Today’s blog tells the unusual story of how a stolen 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS was found, quite by accident. Much of the information in this article comes from the Los Angeles Times, which covered the story in the late 1970s.
Note: Time would tell that this story is mostly factual, but not entirely true. In another blog this week, you’ll read about what wasn’t known at the time the first story was printed – and what information was purposely hidden by authorities.
The Ferrari Dino is Missing
The Ferrari Dino was originally purchased in October 1974 by Rosendo Cruz of Alhambra, California. It was purchased from Hollywood Sports Cars, a trendy dealership frequented by movie stars and entertainers such as Frank Sinatra, William Holden, Sammy Davis Jr., Jayne Mansfield and many others. Ironically, Cruz was a plumber and was simply buying the Ferrari as a birthday present for his wife!
A mere two months later – after logging just 501 miles, the Cruzes visited the Brown Derby restaurant to celebrate their wedding anniversary. When they finished their dinner, the Ferrari Dino was no longer in its parking space and had simply vanished. Cruz reported it stolen, and the police report remained on file at the Rampart division of the Los Angeles Police department. As time passed, the case went cold and everyone forgot about the missing car.
As the story was told, one day in February 1978, a group of kids decided to dig in the mud outside a Los Angeles-area residence on West 119th Street. As they dug just below the surface, they struck something that they determined could be the roof of a car. They flagged down a passing police officer.
They were right … it was a car! Before you knew it, a team of shovel-wielding men and a skip loader were unearthing the unusual find – a dark-green Metallic Ferrari Dino 246 GTS. When investigators did some digging of their own, they discovered it was Cruz’s missing car from four years earlier. It was still in “very good condition” (according to the newspaper account) despite being buried. Whoever buried it had “mummified” it in plastic sheets and stuffed towels into the intakes to keep bugs out.
The home’s current residents had only been there for three months and were therefore no help as to why a car would be buried in their yard. Making matters even more peculiar is the fact that all the neighbors who’d lived there in 1974 said they had noticed nothing unusual during that time frame.
With no other real leads to work, the police released the car to the insurance company. But an interesting thing happened. When people discovered the Los Angeles Times story and read that it was still in “very good condition,” a sea of would-be buyers popped up. However, upon further investigation, there were some predictable issues with the car considering it had been buried for four years. There was extensive rust damage. The paint job was now freckled with white spots. There were other problems with the interior, camshaft covers, exhaust system and more.
The insurance adjuster determined that it would be nearly impossible to restore the Ferrari Dino to anything even close to its original condition. Eventually, he put the car on public display. There were few legitimate offers once people actually saw the car’s condition. Eventually, the Ferrari Dino became the property of a mechanic who had his own shop on Burbank Boulevard. He installed a new alternator and distributor and actually got it to start up … but then other issues were discovered.
Shortly thereafter, the mechanic moved and left no forwarding address … so to this day no one is quite sure who actually refurbished the car the rest of the way. We only know for certain that the car is duly registered with a vanity plate that reads, DUGUP.
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