The True Story Of How A Ferrari Ended Up Buried In Someone’s Yard
Growing up, we all fantasized about discovering hidden ancient treasures while digging around in the sandbox. Instead, we were usually disappointed to find only a rusty, old Matchbox car or some present left behind by a cat.
However, this was not the case with a group of young boys in California in 1978. They were digging around in their yard when they came across something that made their jaws drop, and their mouths started drooling – a buried Ferrari!
An Unexpected Find
The young lads were amazed to find a vintage, rare Ferrari buried in the ground. The car was in pristine condition, almost as if it had been put away for safekeeping. After seeing what they’d stumbled upon, they instantly knew that this was not a Matchbox car or a cat’s present but something of much more value.
Even though they didn’t know how long the car had been buried in their background, it was something no one expected to find. Who buries a whole vehicle, let alone a Ferrari?
A Rare Automobile
It was a regular day for the boys until their usual playtime in the backyard led to an extraordinary discovery. As they were digging and playing, they uncovered a buried treasure, a classic car, a 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, buried just a few feet underneath the dirt in their yard.
Considering that the car was in production for two years, from 1972 to 1974, it wasn’t surprising that just over 3,500 units were made. Thus, it made the boy’s finding even more intriguing.
A Strange Coincidence
One would think that the boys had a clue about what they would find during their backyard excavation, but that was not the case.
The family had recently moved into the house and were still getting to know the property, but this discovery was something that they could never have imagined. As soon as the boys showed the buried car to their parents, they knew they had to contact the authorities. They couldn’t ignore this mysterious discovery on their property.
Getting The Police Involved
Authorities arrived promptly and cordoned off the area for investigation, calling in a team of experts to carefully unearth the car. The process was delicate and methodical, but the team was able to bring the rare Ferrari Dino 246 GTS to the surface.
The vehicle was not only an exciting find for the family, but also raised questions as the authorities investigated how it ended up buried in the backyard and who it belonged to. The family’s property now has a hidden gem and a story to tell, part of their history.
The Car Was In Pristine Condition, Mostly
Upon exhumation, it became clear that the Italian sports car had been deliberately buried with the intention of being retrieved later. In addition, despite the crude mummification techniques used, such as towels placed in the vents and tape on the seams, the windows had not been fully closed, resulting in significant damage to the interior.
It was clear from the car’s condition that it had been abandoned for some time, and it’s unclear when or if the person or people who buried the car had intended to return for it. Nevertheless, the condition of the vehicle indicates that it had been stored in a manner that was not adequate to protect it from the elements.
The Dino Has An Interesting Tale
When the Ferrari was found, questions about its ownership and how it ended up there cropped up. It happens that the car was bought by a plumber called Rosendo Cruz from Alhambra, California, in October 1974, as a gift for his wife.
Sadly, the wife didn’t enjoy the speed and luxury the Dino offered for as long as she wanted, as it was stolen in December of the same year when she and her hubby were having dinner. As a result, she only managed to do 500 miles (805 km) in the Ferrari.
Miscalculated Parking Decision
Nothing stood out with the Dino 246 GTS disappearance; the Cruzes went out to have some dinner on their anniversary when Rosendo decided to park the car some distance away from the hotel after having his suspicions about the valet.
That proved to be a costly decision, as when he and the wife were done with their meal, they returned to an empty lot with their car stolen. Yet, that was not all; it was just the beginning of an interesting twist that involved greed and amnesia.
Due Process Was Followed
Rosendo filed a police report and a subsequent insurance claim which the insurance company, Farmers Insurance, paid after the police closed the case, calling it a “righteous theft.” The owner was paid $22,500, the same amount he paid for the car in 1974.
It took a while for the authorities to finish their investigations, and considering that the vehicle was nowhere to be found, it was assumed that it was stripped for parts and sold. However, that wasn’t the case, as more details would emerge years later.
A Greedy Choice
In 2012, details about what was considered an ordinary car theft emerged, and there was more to the heist. It was revealed that Rosendo had, in fact, hired the thieves to steal his coveted Ferrari so that he could claim the insurance on it, and they would split the loot amongst themselves.
The plan was for the goons to hide the Dino until Cruz had filed the insurance claim; then, they would return for it, take it apart, and sell the parts. Unfortunately, that did not work out as they thought it would.
A Hilarious Twist
The group succeeded in executing the first bit of their plan, but when it came to the second part, all was not well. The thieves forgot where they had buried the car, and considering that they wrapped it up perfectly to avoid damaging it, it shows that they had all intentions of going back to sell it off.
That was a significant loss for Rosendo and the thieves because while they got the insurance money, the rest of their plans backfired on their faces. All because they couldn’t remember the location of their buried treasure.
Auctioned After Discovery
The story about the buried Ferrari Dino 246 GTS spread far and wide and was reported across the country. Just under a year after the classic car was discovered, it was auctioned off, and Brad Howard bought it for a price estimated to be between $5,000 and $9,000.
This looked like a sensible purchase for Howard, considering he owned an automotive shop in California and could restore the Ferrari to its past glory.
The Buried Ferrari, Resurrected
Once he got hold of the Dino, Howard embarked on a journey to restore the car. He enlisted the help of renowned Ferrari expert Giuseppe Cappalonga who did an extensive job. Finally, after some bit of work, the car sprung to life, and Howard uses it for his daily commute.
They redid the paint job, which is the same as the original color, and the paint is still intact to date. What’s more, the car still has the original trim, chrome, and windows and a pair of the original Campagnolo wheels.
Conflicting Condition Reports
One of the other mysterious things about the tale of the Ferrari is its condition upon discovery. There have been some conflicting reports about the state of the car when it was exhumed, with AutoWeek magazine writing on March 3, 1986, that the ride was in terrible condition, and “all 21 layers of paint were eaten through by rust, erosion had “wasted” the wheels, the interior was ruined, and to boot, the engine had been crushed when the car was extracted from the ground.”
Yet, Howard gives a different report, claiming that everything else was in pristine condition save for the windshield, which was smashed on purpose.
A Stand-out Plate
With the car having such a surreal tale to it, it’s only fitting that it would also have a plate that perfectly describes its origins. As such, Howard, the new owner, opted for a fantastic vanity plate that reads “DUG UP,” which is brilliant, to say the least.
Now, everywhere he goes, the plate speaks for him, and anyone who knows the story about the Dino will connect the dots and recognize the car as one that was once buried.
A Job Well Done
To get to a point where Brad Howard constantly uses the car for his daily commute means that the restoration job was a success. The lad sometimes enters the Ferrari in classic car shows where he outrightly steals the spotlight.
When asked whether he would consider selling his coveted Dino, Howard gave an emphatic ‘no’ despite getting countless lucrative offers from people who want to take the car off his hands. However, Howard is in love with the vehicle and isn’t looking to get rid of it anytime soon.