While investigating the theft of heavy equipment from a construction site in Spain, authorities stumbled across a trove of apparently stolen Radwood-era cars squirreled away in a barn: Dozens of rare rally specials, legendary touring cars, and hot hatchbacks among them. BMW M3s. Ford Cosworths. A 1-of-502 Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth Evolution II. A Renault 5 Turbo. A handful of Mitsubishi Evos. The list goes on—and authorities are beginning to piece together how they were grabbed from locations across Europe and where they might've been headed for illicit resale.
According to an arrest report published by the Erzaintza police in Spain's autonomous Basque region, officials tracking a suspect in the theft of a three-ton industrial generator were led to a forested farmstead in Getaria, where they found the stolen generator under a tarp, and the truck used to steal it nearby. During the subsequent arrest of the suspect, an unnamed 42-year-old man, authorities found him to be in illegal possession of two firearms, a taser, and "a considerable amount of money of dubious origin," reportedly around €10,000 ($10,800).
Suspicious that more than a simple generator theft was at play, authorities obtained a warrant to search the rest of the premises, and inside another building officers found a collection of iconic stolen cars from the 1980s and 1990s, some notable motorsport-grade machinery among them. Of the 26 cars found there, most were either homologation rally or touring car specials from the era, with a few later models and hot hatchbacks tossed in for good measure. Several were found with forged chassis numbers and have been linked to car thefts across the continent, according to El Diario Vasco.
Photos published by the Erzaintza depict cars from at least five countries, eight marques, and three decades, most of them being notable enthusiast cars fitting the categories above. Here are the most notable models we have identified, listed alphabetically.
- BMW M3 (E30)
- BMW M3 (E36)
- Ford Escort RS Cosworth (one of 7,145)
- Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth (one of 500)
- Lancia Delta HF Integrale
- Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth Evolution II (one of 502)
- Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution variants (IV, VI, VI Tommi Mäkinen Edition, VII, and more)
- Renault 5 Turbo (one of 4,987)
- Peugeot 205 GTI
What will become of these dozens of valuable vehicles isn't yet known, though given their links to thefts across the European continent, one can hope they'll be returned to their rightful owners. That would make for a happier ending than some surplus auction—these cars certainly deserve better than to be flipped by some predatory financial speculator who can't tell the clutch from the brake.
Got a tip? Send us a note: email@example.com