At this very moment, classic car detectives are working around the world to recover valuable stolen vehicles. As distressed owners wait impatiently, these sleuths methodically track down thieves and work with authorities to bring them to justice. Classic car detectives make a huge number of recoveries, primarily by working with mechanics and members of the classic and collector car community who provide anonymous tips. Together, classic car enthusiasts and the detectives who investigate on their behalf are bringing beloved vehicles home to their rightful owners.
News Flash! James Bond’s Aston Martin
Making headlines right now is probably the most famous stolen car – the Aston Martin DB5 from the James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” which is stolen from an airplane hangar during transport in 1997. It is recently spotted in the Middle East by a confidential informant. Art Recovery International, an organization that tracks down stolen property, is hoping to get a look at the car’s chassis number, which is the only way to ensure this Aston Martin is the authentic car they’re all looking for. Car detectives often try to sneak in for an up-close photo of the chassis number to prove the car’s lineage.
Stolen Car Stories
Thieves steal valuable cars all the time. Some are recovered, and some are still out there, hiding out in an obscure garage or in the hands of an unsuspecting buyer who doesn’t realize the car’s pedigree. The circumstances of famous heists and equally fame-worthy recoveries offer clues on where to look, though:
Sylvester Stallone’s 1950 Mercury Custom – In 1994, Sly’s custom-built classic is stolen from his garage. Featured in the movie “Cobra” and worth about $250,000, the car is eventually reunited with him in 2011 after he spots it in an online auction.
Vincent Vega’s 1964 Chevy Malibu SS – John Travolta’s character Vincent Vega drives this beauty in the movie “Pulp Fiction.” After filming ends, director Quentin Tarantino parks it on a Los Angeles street and someone took it during the night. Two decades later, the car is found at a private residence in Oakland, where the new owner thinks he makes a legitimate sale at auction.
John Travolta’s 1970 Mercedes Benz 280 SL Convertible – Travolta’s real-life car is also stolen. After a lengthy investigation that results in a 14-year prison sentence for the thief, he gets the remains of his beloved car back in a cardboard box. It had been chopped up and sold for parts.
Guy Fieri’s 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo – In a caper that goes down in car collecting history, a thief steals Guy’s car by rappelling off a rooftop and into a repair garage. After a year of detective work, police arrest a 17-year-old high school student who brags about the feat at school. The Food Network celebrity chef gets his car back, mostly intact.
John Schneider’s 2007 Cadillac Escalade – The Dukes of Hazzard star parks his $60,000 luxury SUV at a California shopping mall with his two six-month-old puppies inside. The vehicle is taken and later found stripped of its seats, its instrument panel and the puppies, too.
Rod Stewart’s 1995 Dodge Viper – While on tour in 2004, the crooner’s gardener steals his car and takes it for a joyride. The gardener is later caught by police and given an 11-year prison sentence, and Rod gets his car back in less-than-mint condition.
Kanye West’s 2010 Porsche Panamera – The beautiful $110,000 Porsche is stolen from Kanye’s Honolulu resort by thieves, who crash it into a house during a police chase. The car is totaled.
Fake “Back to the Future” DeLorean – In 2013, a 1981 DeLorean is posted on Craigslist claiming to be the original from the movie. Skeptical internet commenters – who notice the seller misspells DeLorean as “Dalorean” – alert authorities. When recovered and returned, it is revealed the fake movie car is indeed a DeLorean – just an old one the true owner is restoring.
Wrecked Ferrari F50 – Taken from a Pennsylvania car dealership in 2003, a brand-new $750,000 Ferrari F50 is recovered three states away in Kentucky by the FBI several years later. Unfortunately, one G-Man wrecks it during the investigation. The crumpled car is auctioned off with a starting bid of $60,000. Ouch!
Collector and Classic Car Insurance for Less
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