Meet the 20 classic cars valued at over £114m that have gone missing from different parts of the world. Find out their last known locations and the intriguing unsolved mysteries surrounding their disappearances.
Select Car Leasing has scoured the globe to hunt down the world’s most valuable lost cars. Unlike today when classic cars are carefully tracked and maintained due to their historical importance and value, this wasn’t the case in decades past.
Cars worth millions would regularly go missing. Most would turn up again, but some would remain lost, including the fabled Bugatti Type 57 SC, also known as “La Voiture Noire” or “The Black Car”, which some have valued at over £70m, should it ever surface
We’ve dug out our treasure map and plotted 20 locations where some of the world’s most famous cars disappeared between 1912 and 2014. Continue to scroll for a zoomed-in view of each continent and to find out more information about each missing car, their approximate values and the unsolved mysteries that surround them. A big thank you to www.selectcarleasing.co.uk for this article.
20 Classic Cars Are Still Lost & Yet To Be Found
Value of Missing Cars: £114.7m
Our map of lost classics shows £114.7m worth of cars lost in different parts of the world. Most of the cars were last seen on the west and east coasts of America, with notable examples including James Dean’s fabled Porsche 550 Spyder and the world-famous DeLorean DMC-12 which featured in the movie Back to the Future. Many also disappeared in Europe, such as the famous Ferrari 375 MM and Bugatti Type 57 SC.
Two cars have even met an unfortunate and mysterious end on liners that sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, namely the SS Andrea Doria and remarkably, the doomed Titanic voyage.
Discover stories of former warzones, theft and mystery disappearances – take a trip through each continent below to find out more about each car.
West Coast of America
Value of Missing Cars: £6.2m
America’s west coast is home to some of the most beautiful, and valuable, missing cars on our list. James Dean’s tragically famous Porsche Spyder 500 was stolen five years after his crash in 1955.
After being purchased by George Barris, the car vanished from a trailer while being transported from Miami to Los Angeles. Another missing classic in the area is the Shelby GT500 that was owned by The Doors singer Jim Morrison.
After a crash in LA, Morrison left the scene to get help. When Morrison returned to the crash site, the car was nowhere to be seen.
Back in 2010, body panels from an original DeLorean DMC-12 that featured in Back to the Future could be found hanging from the ceiling of a Planet Hollywood restaurant in Hawaii. The unique value of the panels may have been their downfall, as they vanished when the restaurant closed later that year. Other cars lost in the region include the colourful Chevrolet Superior Coach and an icon of the 50s and 60s, the Bettencourt-Zupan Coupe.
East Coast of America
Value of Missing Cars: £4.9m
An Aston Martin DB5, which appeared in James Bond’s Goldfinger, was stolen in 1997 and is perhaps the highest-profile car to go missing on the east coast of America. The car had been stored in a Florida airport hangar before vanishing in suspicious circumstances in the dead of night. All leads on its whereabouts have, so far, proved to be red herrings.
Another car to go missing in the region was the Oldsmobile Golden Rocket. Dubbed as one of the most radical designs of the Motorama period, no one knows if the car still exists today. It was a common practice for General Motors to destroy concept cars after use, but no records exist of this taking place.
A Buick Wildcat, Chevrolet Waldorf Nomad and Cadillac La Espada have also met their end in the region.
Value of Missing Cars: £85.7m
Europe has seen several classic cars go missing over the last century, and perhaps none more famous than the Bugatti Type 57 SC. Many theories surround the legendary Bugatti that vanished during WW2, and we’ll examine those in further detail a little later.
The famous Ferrari 375 MM is another missing car that vanished, this time in 1953. The car was sold to a collector in Genoa, Italy, but hasn’t been seen in over 65 years.
A car that recently went missing in Europe was the Horch 855 Spezial roadster, which disappeared after Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovych was exiled. In the aftermath of a tumultuous period in the country, nobody was able to locate the vehicles whereabouts.
The Cord Speedster is another car that has vanished from Europe, this time after its appearance at the Paris Motor Show during the interwar period. Other cars still to be found on the continent include a £150,000 valued Plymouth Fury, Amilcar CGSS and the stunningly unique BMW Garmisch Bertone concept car.
Value of Missing Cars: £16.7m
Algeria is the last known location of one of the most famous lost cars in history. During the Algerian civil war in 1962, a Duesenberg SJ-506 went missing when the owner, Emile Beghain, was forced to flee the country.
Some theorists have speculated that the car was destroyed during the war, although no evidence of this has ever been substantiated. It’s also been put forward that the car may have been stolen during the chaos of war, never to be seen again.
Value of Missing Cars: £1.2m
The Missing Big Three
Although mystery surrounds all 20 missing cars on our list, three stand out as being the most sought after and desirable of the bunch. That is the Ferrari 375 MM, Duesenberg SJ-506 and Bugatti Type 57 SC. We’ve done our best to find approximate values for each car, and by our reckoning, they would be worth a combined total of £100m or more – not a sum to be sniffed at.
Find out more about the myths and mysteries that surrounds each car’s disappearance below.
Out of the 26 made and sold by the Italian car manufacturer, only one Ferrari 375 MM is unaccounted for – chassis number 0378AM. Ferrari sold the now-missing car to Italian businessman Dr. Enrico Wax, a car collector who chose to keep the car in his garage in Genoa rather than racing it like most of its counterparts.
However, in 1953, the car seemingly vanished, with no one (openly) knowing its current location. If the car was ever found, it could potentially be one of the most original, well-kept Ferraris ever.
The Duesenberg SJ-506, or “Doozy”, is widely regarded as one of the most sought after and desirable American cars ever built, with a supercharged eight-cylinder engine that was extremely rare for the 1930s.
The fabled car, with the chassis number 506, was sold to Emile Beghain, who raced the car before returning to his home in Algeria with it. Unfortunately, when civil war broke out in 1962, Beghain was forced to flee, and the car hasn’t been seen since.
Bugatti Type 57 SC
Back in the 1930s, Bugatti was the most renowned and prestigious sports and racing car brand in the world, so when they released four special-edition Bugatti Type 57 SCs based on their Aerolithe concept, there was naturally lots of interest.
Three of the cars are accounted for, meaning one is still lost and it’s perhaps the biggest and most valuable missing car mystery of them all. The car has been nicknamed “La Voiture Noire” or “The Black Car” since its disappearance, only adding to its mystique. Due to the car being originally assigned as a test car, no owner was ever registered.
The theory goes that at the beginning of the German invasion of France during WW2 in 1940, Bugatti founder Ettore Bugatti wanted to ensure the car didn’t fall into the enemy’s hands. Ettore reportedly put his creation on a train to Bordeaux, but the car never arrived.
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The last confirmed known location of the fabled Bugatti Type 57 SC was in the manufacturer’s Molsheim factory in France.