The owners of the car returned and showed little distress for the kitten, while we were determined to get him out. The husband pointed out to his wife that a dead kitten would really stink up the car, suddenly she was willing to wait while we poked and prodded the engine and crawled underneath..
and got 'im out!
Fortunately, we were able to give the kitten to a family experienced in animal rescue-- though I thought he might be comfortable in my handlebar bag. ;)