[photos|travel] The weirdest rental car ever

We have this rental car, from one of the big companies. It has Arizona plates, with almost 50,000 miles on it. The vehicle is in excellent condition. And it’s pretty highly tricked out, for a rental car. Most of those are mid-range trim lines.

But there’s several weird things going on.

The car has Sirius/XM satellite radio, with the little sharkfin antenna on the roof. It has OnStar, with the big flat plate behind the rear view mirror serving as that antenna. But it has two other antennae, clearly aftermarket installations, that serve no obvious purpose at all. There’s no third party navigation system, for example (think Hertz NeverLost). And it’s got a couple of odd third party additions to the dashboard and console.

This appears to be a badge holder, as the clip extends about three feet and retracts. Though why you would keep a badge permanently inside a vehicle I don’t know, as that seems like terrible security to me. I’ve never in my life seen one of these permanently attached to a car console.

This thing is on the dash just below and to the right of the steering wheel. We cannot make it come on or do anything. It might be a control for an aftermarket in-car cellular integration, except the car has a factory-installed Bluetooth integration through the sound system that works just fine, so that makes no sense.

This is one of the two aftermarket antennae that serve no obvious purpose. It’s round, and a couple of inches in diameter.

This is the other aftermarket antenna that serves no obvious purpose. It’s a little bigger than an inch square. When you first start the car, this one has a blinking LED that goes green after a minute or so, seeming to indicate that it is successfully acquiring signal.

It’s almost as if the vehicle used to be a law enforcement or security vehicle that wasn’t fully decommissioned, except you’d never find one of those in a rental car fleet from a major rental agency. They buy all their cars brand new in bulk contracts from the major manufacturers.

I’ve rented hundreds of cars over the years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this stuff. Anybody know what all this is for?

8 thoughts on “[photos|travel] The weirdest rental car ever

  1. I believe the two aftermarket antennas on the windshield are associated with “easy pay” systems for toll roads. The last car I rented in Florida had two similar antennas.

    1. Jay says:

      Ah! That makes sense!

  2. emeraldcite says:

    Perhaps someone rented it in the area for a long term and installed their own materials? It has quite a few miles on it.

  3. JMS says:

    The clip on the dash looks similar to the arrangement some of the Zipcars (hourly car-rental thing) in my city have; they don’t like you to take the keys out (the cars are accessed via keycard) so they have various clip dealies on the dash. I know some rental companies are trying to get into the hourly rental field as well…

    1. Jay Sheckley says:

      that’s what I think; It holds keys

  4. Janna says:

    Hey Jay, I may be able to shed some light on these for you. One of those plate/cartridge things attached to the windsheild is a scanner for bridge and road tolls so you don’t have to worry about paying same as a rental car driver. When I was in Florida with David and Kate our car had one of those and we asked about it.

    The badge cord/retractor may be a key fob. When you rent cars via ZipCar, the car keys are often attached to the dashboard by such a device. Entry and locking of the car is done via a magnetic card reader–so the other plate/cartridge on the windsheld may be for that. All of this suggests to me that the rental car company you’re renting from may be transitioning their cars to the ZipCar model with regard to security. Interesting.

  5. David S. says:

    Interesting theories, but surely the more likely explanation is that one antenna is for the NSA tracker, the other is for the CIA bug and the dash thingy is for when the car is rented by one our reptilian overlords and they need to switch traffic lights?

  6. Nancy says:

    It’s a former zip car. They have the key on a lanyard and a keyless entry system.

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