A rare Ferrari sports car worth $2.2 million, once owned by former F1 driver Eddie Irvine, was stolen by a car “collector” during a test drive in Germany but was later found hidden in a garage, the police said on Wednesday.
The suspect, posing as a classic car buyer, had expressed interest in buying the 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO, said the police in the German city of Dusseldorf. He responded to an advertisement for the racing car and arranged to meet the owner for a test drive.
During the drive, the seller and the “would-be-buyer” decided to swap seats so the latter could take charge of the red GTO which is one of the just 272 ever made.
Once in the driver’s seat – and with the seller standing on the sidewalk – the man sped off leaving the startled owner of the car behind.
But the distinctive car, in bright Italian “Rosso Corsa” red, attracted so much attention that it was quickly found on Tuesday evening after the police appealed for witnesses.
It was discovered hidden in a garage in the town of Grevenbroich, not far from Dusseldorf city centre.
According to German newspaper Bild, the police were still hunting for the thief. They released a photograph of the man inspecting the Ferrari before the theft.
Authorities say that the “historic vehicle” with 43,000 km on the clock should be valued at more than 2 million euros.
A listing for the car on the dealer’s website says it once belonged to former Northern Ireland Formula 1 driver Irvine – who raced for Ferrari between 1996 and 1999.
Bernhard Kerklo, the Managing Director of the dealership, told Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper the man had exchanged calls and emails over the course of a number of weeks.
Kerklo said the car could never be sold in the market as it was “too flashy”.