The hunt for the last remaining Sao Penza is over, after NASA scientists discovered the wayward car on Pluto. The shock news comes after images from the New Horizons probe appeared to show ice mountains and geological activity on the dwarf planet. This fresh turn of events has prompted the inevitable question: how will the Sao Penza get home?
PetrolBlog has been engaged in a halfhearted search for the sole UK-registered Sao Penza since June 2011, but had all but given up hope. Even a crack investigative team consisting of former Crimewatch presenter Sue Cook, the dog from The Littlest Hobo and the annoyingly precocious Penny from Inspector Gadget failed to find any hot leads.
According to exclusive data sourced from the DVLA, the Sao Penza was last seen roaming the streets of Britain in the summer of 2014, but has since been listed as off the road. CCTV footage showed the car masquerading as a Mazda 323, wearing nothing other than a pair of Sao badges, a set of Sao wheel trims, one window sticker from a dealer in Keighley and another saying ‘Don’t follow me, follow the clucking Bantams’.
The latest photo shows a rough indication of where the Sao Penza has been hiding, but NASA is keen to point out that it’s not to scale. Based on the image, the Sao Penza would be approximately sixteen times the size of the Grand Canyon, which wouldn’t be entirely accurate.
Nobody is quite sure how the Sao Penza managed to end up on Pluto, with only Anne Zarkov, wife of Hans and formerly of NASA, providing any explanation.
“We have seen what appears to be a copy of the Daily Express, a packet of Wine Gums and a map of Bridlington on the back seat. We must therefore assume that the owner of the Sao Penza got lost on a trip to the seaside. He or she must be getting a bit hungry now.
“It’s an unprecedented turn of events, although we did hear rumours of a missing Somerset-registered Talbot Solara discovered in scrubland just outside the Space Centre in Houston.”
There are now calls for the Sao Penza to be destroyed, with fears that an oil leak could result in a catastrophic environmental disaster. This has led to an angry response from Tom Weston-Bert, chairman of the Sao Penza Owners Club, who, in an article published in SPOCk, the club’s weekly magazine, said:
“It’s typical of this country that people are getting over excited about a few 10,000ft mountains and a volcano that may have erupted 100 million years ago, and yet we could see the last British-registered Sao Penza destroyed.
“What would that achieve? The Penza is one of the best examples of badge-engineering the world has ever seen and is rightly held up alongside the first generation Kia Pride. I shall be writing a stern letter to the editor of the Daily Express.”
As yet there have been no calls from the South African government to bring one of its own cars back to earth, possibly because it represents a chapter of its automotive history it would rather forget.
PetrolBlog is now pondering what other forgotten automotive treasures could be lost in space. A Saab 90 on Mars? A Charade XTE on Jupiter? A Renault 19 Be Bop on Uranus? As ever, we’ll bring you the oldest news, first and the latest news, last.