Have you ever gone treasure hunting in your backyard or on the beach? It’s a popular activity and some people take it pretty seriously, but most of us maybe just buy a cheap metal detector and have a few fun hours of finding what generally amounts to be several discarded bottle caps, the odd bit of junk jewelry and occasionally, an old coin or two. Some people get a bit luckier and find real golden jewelry or coins, but it’s rare to find a truly massive treasure, especially if you’re in the confines of your own backyard. Despite how low the odds are, however, in 1978 two California boys made a truly unbelievable discovery.
On January 20, 1991, the police department of Jackson County, Oregon, received a call about a crime that initially didn’t seem all that uncommon: someone wanted to report that their car had been stolen outside Southside Cinema in Medford, about 27 miles from the California border.
It wasn’t just any car, though: it was a Porsche 924. This was a particularly special vehicle because when it was first manufactured in 1976, it was the iconic German car company’s first product to offer a fully automatic transmission.
As for the one stolen outside that Oregon movie theater in 1991, police weren’t sure if they would ever find it. Time passed, and the car remained missing for more than two decades. Then, authorities received a very interesting phone call…
On November 28, 2017, nearly 26 years after the car was stolen, Jackson County police received a tip from a caller who reported seeing something strange on a rural trail while walking his dog.
The man was reportedly strolling through the woods near Crater Lake National Park when he spotted an overturned car. Soon enough, the police rushed to the location to examine the potential crime scene.
It looked like the car had been lying on the hillside for a long time. Whose car was it? And how had it gotten there? Upon further investigation, police confirmed that it was the same Porsche that was stolen 27 years prior! So what happened to it?
There was little way of knowing how long the car had been in the woods. Police confirmed that the car’s registration expired the same year it was stolen, way back in 1991. So, was it simply abandoned after the crime was committed? Or was something darker afoot?
Police then discovered something horrifying by the scene of the accident: bones. Thankfully, forensics teams were able to confirm the bones came from a deer and not a human.
“The vehicle’s location on steep, muddy terrain presents logistical and environmental concerns for removal,” read a November 2017 statement from the sheriff’s department. “Officials are working to determine the best course of action.” And so the mystery continued…
Believe it or not, this wasn’t the first time people found long-lost sports cars decades later. In 1978, a group of children in Los Angeles, California, stumbled upon a car buried in their yard while playing outside their home.
In that case, an excavation revealed that it was a 1974 Dino 246 GTS—a car manufactured by Ferrari. Somehow, the sports car had ended up buried in the front yard. Talk about strange!
Thankfully, police tracked down the owner. He was a plumber from Alhambra, California, named Rosendo Cruz, and he originally purchased the car as a birthday gift to his wife. It was stolen on December 7, 1974. Who knows how long it was underground…
Of course, this car would be worth roughly $70,000 today! Police never figured out who’d stolen the Dino 246 GTS or why it was buried. Neither the neighbors nor the current tenants could recall any suspicious activity, either. And that wasn’t the only sports car with a mysterious backstory…
The East Coast has had its fair share of sports cars popping up in strange places, too. Once, a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette was stolen from Manhattan’s Alan Poster; he didn’t have insurance and he suffered financially. Then, in 2006—almost 37 years later—it was found all the way in Long Beach, California.
Eventually, Alan, by then a successful Northern California businessman, was tracked down by authorities. The car still belonged to him since he hadn’t filed an insurance claim on it, and he couldn’t be happier to finally have his special Corvette back.
These kinds of bizarre sports car discoveries aren’t limited to the United States, either. In August 2017, about 100 miles east of Paris in the town of Châlons-en-Champagne, police retrieved a Peugeot 104 in a local pond. What was its deal?
After being towed to a nearby garage, local mechanic Franck Ménard was surprised by how good it still looked. “It still looks like a 104,” he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. “The paintwork is still blue and there’s still chrome on the bumpers.”
Amazingly, the car had been missing for nearly four decades after initially being reported as stolen in 1979. The original owner was even located by the police, although by that point it was officially owned by her insurer. Still, she took it for one nostalgic drive anyway.
Finally, in Frankfurt, Germany in 2017, a man’s car was found 20 years after it went missing. It was located in the garage of a building that was scheduled to be demolished; someone reported it to authorities when they thought it was in the way of the demolition.
Interestingly, while the police did eventually trace this car back to its owner, now 76 years old, there was no evidence of a crime. He simply forgot where he parked! Yet the owner was happy to reunite with it before it was turned into scrap metal.