The Government has announced that cars that are over ten years old 'most probably' contain Red Mercury, a substance that many scientists say does not exist. But it is widely thought that it can be used to find treasure, ward off evil spirits or even make nuclear bombs. There have been reports that tiny amounts can sell for millions of dollars; an idea fuelled by press speculation and internet rumours.
According to Government reports, older cars that were not fitted with catalytic converters, or that were originally designed not to have them, were fitted with exhaust manifolds made from a heat resistant alloy which is thought to contain the elusive substance.
Articles on the internet suggest that the Red Mercury can be detected using a standard mobile phone. If you hold a mobile phone up against the metal and the signal level changes it can indicate the presence of the substance.
Reports from across the UK showed old car prices jumping from an average of £200 to around ten times this figure, just on the off chance they could contain Red Mercury. It is thought that enterprising firms had begun buying up the cars and scrapping them to recover the substance, although it may take several years before the Red Mercury can be recovered from the alloy as the process for achieving this is still in development.
At the same time as the Government's announcement, they also confirmed that they had dumped the idea of offering a £2000 bonus for scrapping old cars as a way of aiding the beleaguered motor industry.