Name: 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS
Year Produced: 1972-1974
Number Built: 1,274
Class: Sports Car
Body Type: 2 door fixed head coupe
Engine: 2.4 L V6
Power: 195 hp @ 7600 RPM
0-60mph: 7.0 seconds
Top Speed: 152.2 mph
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Length/height: 169.3 in/45.3 in
Wheelbase: 92.1 in.
There has been plenty of urban legends and stories that have been circulating in the Internet about buried cars that its kind of hard to draw the line between reality and fiction. One example was from 1977 about a certain Sandra Ilene West who claimed to have a very eerie last will and testament: she has strict instructions to be buried inside her 1964 Ferrari 330 America. Serving as her coffin, the Ferrari was buried alongside Sandra’s grave and was poured with cement to prevent grave robbers from desecrating their final resting place. The story made headlines and was the beginning of a trend of stories involving buried cars, and in this case a Ferrari.
Another similar story caught the attention of Mike Spinelli, Senior Editor of Jalopnik. Nearly a year later after the infamous burial of Ms. West, a group of kids were digging in the mud outside a house at 1137 W. 119th St. in the West Athens section of Los Angeles. Just below the surface, they struck something that felt like the roof of a car. They flagged down a sheriff’s cruiser.
Priscilla Painton, staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times, was there to witness this part of automotive history. The story unfolded of a strange, four-wheeled treasure that two sheriff’s detectives would unearth from the front yard of a suburban house. When the story hit newspapers around the country, it reminded many of Ms. West’s odd Italian coffin, only this time the driver’s seat was empty.
Armed with a skip loader and a team of men with shovels, detectives Joe Sabas and Lenny Carroll salvaged a dark, metallic green, Dino 246 GTS with serial number 07862. In Ms. Painton’s article, which ran on Feburary 8, 1978, she described the car to be in “surprisingly good condition,” and estimated may worth at around $18,000 at that time. To add to its value, it was noted by Ferrari enthusiasts that this unearthed Dino comes with optional Campagnolo wheels and Daytona seats.
The daunting task of tracing its history soon followed. Investigators found out that the car has been bought in October, 1974 by Rosendo Cruz of Alhambra, California. Shortly after two months on December 7, 1974, Cruz had reported the car stolen, and the police report was kept on file at the Rampart division of the Los Angeles Police Department.
But the still mystery remained. How did the Dino ended up underground? The house’s then-current tenants (who’d only lived there for three months) are clueless, and none of the area’s residents said they’d had noticed anything suspicious happening at the house in 1974. This left detective Sabas scratching his head. It seems to the investigators that whoever buried it had obviously expected to claim it later; they’d attempted to encase it in plastic sheets and had stuffed towels into its intakes to keep unwanted creatures out.
With no leads, the case of the stolen, buried Ferrari soon died down. Cops had years before declared the original incident a “righteous theft.” Farmers Insurance Group had agreed with the police and paid off a loss of $22,500 to the Dino’s legal owner, the Hollywood branch of the Bank of America. There was no more to be done. The unearthed Dino was returned to the insurance company, afterwards.
Watch this video as Jalopnik chief Mike Spinelli narrates his impressions on this buried Italian artifact.