Lake Erie’s Frozen Mitsubishi Is Free

The ice car goeth… but not without leaving a piece of itself behind.

John Normile/Getty Images

It was the winter storm image shared ‘round the world: a Mitsubishi Lancer, entombed in a thick glaze of Lake Erie, the victim of a long night of driving winter winds blasting frosty water onto it. Found by its owner, it evoked a mosquito trapped in amber: a once spry, darty thing that would never move again—at least until scientists came along millions of years from now and extracted the gasoline in its tank to clone dinosaurs with.

Well, it actually came right out.

Credit—or blame, depending on how long you like your social media memes to last—Lake Erie Towing and Recovery, who pulled the car loose on Jan. 13.

“I been towing for 28 years, I never had to do something of that magnitude,” Lake Erie Towing and Recovery owner Lenny Iwanenko, a.k.a. “Lake Erie Lenny,” told The Drive. “It was pretty neat.”

Here’s how they did it: Lake Erie Lenny and his team poured seven 50-lb bags of calcium chloride flakes across the car, to get the melting underway. Once the salty flakes had a chance to soften up the glaze, the towers hooked up a winch to each of the right-side wheels, then alternated back and forth between pulling on each one until—pop!—the car came out like a bad tooth from your skull.

But like Carly Rae Jepsen, the ice car didn’t want to give up its viral fame that easily. When the wrecker yanked the Mitsubishi free from the concrete grip of its icy prison, the frozen mask of the car’s right front quarter remained, upright, in the parking lot.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Lake Erie Lenny laughed. ““I actually wanted it to happen that way.”