Nightmare: Classic Cars Stolen, Allegedly Destroyed at Demo Derby
The worst nightmare of any classic car owner is to have it stolen, and yet for two owners, it reportedly got worse from there.
Stealing classic cars are bad; killing them at a demolition derby is worse. That's allegedly what happened at the final event at Ringwood Raceway in St. Leonard, U.K. this weekend, where a 1985 Ford LTD wagon and a 1965 Pontiac Grand Prix appeared in matching shades of spray-paint teal, shortly after extremely similar cars were stolen in the area just a month prior.
The initial story broke from Twitter, where @manfacilityw noted the similarities between the matched set of cars that showed up for the Ringwood Unlimited Bangers Farewell event and two recently stolen cars from the area. The Ford LTD, a 5.0L V8 wood-grain Country Squire wagon, was reported stolen June 14 from Andover, and the Pontiac, a 6.4L V8 Grand Prix, was reported stolen two days later on June 16 from Salisbury. Both cities are in south England only 17 miles apart. A pair of cars painted in matching color schemes that bore a striking resemblance to the stolen classics showed up as entries at the banger race (which is similar to a cross between a demolition derby and a short-track oval race). The cars were completely destroyed by the end of the race, at which point police showed up and impounded the wreckage.
The Drive attempted to reach out to the apparent driver of the wagon in the event, as well as the owner of the Pontiac and a representative for the track, but didn't hear back. The owner of the Ford, Mark Wright, did respond and confirmed he believes it's his car that was destroyed in the event. "They left things on the car which were recognizable... there was no question it was my car," Wright said. A search of auto registration records in the UK shows that only one 1983 Ford Squire was registered in the entire country, which helps confirm Wright's belief.
Wright also confirmed that police had contacted him and would let him know for sure if they could positively identify the car as his. For what it's worth, Wright said that, "the people running the banger racing site, and the regulars that attend it, were horrified by the whole thing," and that the event was actually the final one the course before it's closed and demolished to make way for a housing project. Video of the event very clearly shows the Pontiac and the Ford competing, and getting thoroughly destroyed.
The wagon itself, which was a very clean wood-paneled blue example as seen in images Wright shared, was imported to the U.K. in December 2021 and was only registered in the spring, which means he got very little time to actually enjoy it before it was destroyed. When I asked if he had any plans to replace it, he told me that he was, "doubting as to whether I would go down that path again... you kinda lose faith in human nature." It's an understandable statement after watching your pride and joy get used for a demolition derby, admittedly.