- Image Credit Dan Chapman – Featured in Salisbury Journal
It’s every classic car owner’s worst nightmare. Your beautiful car, lovingly restored and cared for, is stolen. Then, to add insult to injury, it’s used in banger racing – a sport that destroys cars for fun. This is what happened to two classic car owners recently. Both cars were stolen in June and then used in a banger race in Ringwood this month (August).
Mark Wright, from Andover, Hampshire, reported his 1985 Ford LTD Country Squire wagon stolen in June. He issued an appeal to local residents to keep their eyes peeled for the distinctive American estate car, saying he doesn’t believe the car to be of much monetary value but that it meant a lot to him.
Mark purchased the car from California at the end of last year. It is the vehicle featured in the National Lampoon films. He had given up all hope of being reunited with his cherished vehicle when he received a call from Hampshire Constabulary on Sunday, August 7.
He told the Andover Advertiser: “The whole sordid affair came to fruition on Sunday afternoon as I was returning from a pleasant morning at ‘Trout n about’ in Stockbridge. My phone rang, and it was Hampshire Constabulary asking if I had seen a picture posted that day on Facebook showing two American cars being transported into Ringwood raceway.
“I stopped the car and looked up the post, and sure enough, it looked like my Ford Squire. Suddenly I was bombarded with messages on social media alerting me that my car was about to be raced and wrecked.”
Despite Mark’s efforts to stop the race from taking place, his beloved car was used in the race. The minute he saw it, he knew the distinctive vehicle was his own. It is the only model registered by the DVLA in the UK, and it still had the unique alloy wheels that he had fitted.
His was not the only stolen American classic used in the race either. A 1965 Pontiac 65 Grand Prix, owned by illustrator Fred Fieber from Salisbury, was also raced. This car had been stolen around the same time as Mark’s.
Mr Fieber said he was “resigned to not finding [the car]” until he received a message suggesting it had been spotted on a trailer at Matchams Park Stadium in Ringwood.
“Frantic calls to the track and police were made to try and stop the race, unfortunately too late to save her from her fate on the track. I believe she only lasted a few laps,”
“Obviously, I am terribly sad about her demise; she survived over half a century just to be destroyed for a few minutes of fun.”
Mark Wright is also understandably infuriated by the events; he says:
“I am angry and frustrated that these kind of thoughtless, selfish people think they can get away with these types of crimes! We can only hope that the English judicial system will teach them a lesson!”
A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: “I can confirm that a stolen Ford Ltd Crown Victoria Squire station wagon was recovered from Matchams Park Stadium in Christchurch on Sunday, August 7. An investigation is ongoing.”
A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: “We were called at 2.12 pm on Sunday, August 7, to reports that two classic cars that had been previously reported as stolen from Wiltshire and Hampshire were at Matchams Park Stadium.
“Officers attended, and both vehicles were recovered. The matters are now being investigated by those forces.”
This has been a painful experience for both of the stolen car’s owners; this story serves as a stark reminder to keep your classic car secure and to be extra vigilant if you are lucky enough to own one of these beauties.