How a Ferrari Ended Up Buried In Someone’s Back Yard

In 1978, a group of kids were digging in the mud outside a house in the West Athens section of Los Angeles when they hit something that sounded like metal. A little more digging revealed the roof of a car. They flagged down police, who immediately called for detectives. Attacking the yard with a skip loader, a small team of men with shovels and Detectives Joe Sabas and Lenny Carroll uncovered a dark, metallic green, Ferrari Dino 246 GTS. The car appeared to be in surprisingly good condition and was estimated to be worth around $18,000 ($80,812 today). Investigators ran the license plate and discovered that it had been purchased in October 1974 by Rosendo Cruz of Alhambra, Calif., who had reported the vehicle stolen in December of that year. How did the Ferrari get there? The owners of the house offered no explanation, and the residents in the area said they hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary. That struck Detective Sabas as odd, since burying a car in the back yard would likely have created quite a disturbance. Whoever buried it obviously expected to claim it later because they had attempted to mummify it in plastic sheets and had stuffed towels into its intakes to keep bugs out. Farmers Insurance Group had already paid Cruz $22,500, so there was no more to be done. Later, it transpired that Cruz had apparently conspired to commit insurance fraud with the supposed thieves. They were supposed to take the Dino to a chop shop to be broken up for parts. Instead, they hid it, intending to dig it up later, but forgot where it was buried. Real estate businessman Brad Howard purchased the car from Farmers Insurance, to which ownership had defaulted, and had it restored by Ferrari expert Giuseppe Cappalonga. Due to the drought conditions during the car's burial, there was relatively little rust. As of 2019, it was in perfect running condition in Howard's possession. It was easily restored and has been very active since 1978 when he purchased it. The owner continues to drive it regularly, and even takes it to shows and classic races.