Stolen €2 million Ferrari secured by German police

German police have tracked down a rare 1985 Ferrari after a supposed buyer sped off with it during a test drive. The suspect remains on the run. The vehicle once belonged to British racing driver Eddie Irvine.

German authorities found the Ferrari 288 GTO worth around €2 million ($2.2 million) after it was stolen by a would-be buyer, police said on Wednesday.

The police in the northwest city of Düsseldorf said they were still searching for the perpetrator and urged the public for more information.

The man, posing as a classic car buyer, had responded to an advertisement for the 1985 racing car and arranged to meet the owner for a test drive.

During the drive, they decided to swap seats so the would-be buyer could take charge of the red GTO. Once in the driver's seat — and with the seller standing on the sidewalk — the man sped off leaving the startled owner behind. 

Ferrari, big picture star

'Magnum, P.I.': Ferrari 308 GTS

Private investigator Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) lives on the estate of a rich author in Hawaii. His employer provides room and board — and a Ferrari, in which Magnum chases criminals. Originally, it was supposed to be a Porsche 928, but Porsche rejected the request. Ferrari, however, grabbed the opportunity to advertise its models. And that's how the 308 GTS became known as the "Magnum Ferrari."

Ferrari, big picture star

'Miami Vice': the Testarossa

Don Johnson became THE fashion trendsetter of the 1980s by embodying policeman Sonny Crockett in the "Miami Vice" series. His white Ferrari certainly contributed to the cult. The model's name, "Testarossa," means "red head," which refers to the red valve caps of the 12-cylinder motor.

Ferrari, big picture star

'Miami Vice,' the film : Ferrari 430 Spider

Tubbs and Crockett reloaded: In 2006, the cult series was adapted into a film, starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell in the role of the detectives. They work undercover, chasing gangsters in a silver F 430. One of the special features of the model is that it emits blue flames from the exhausts when given full throttle.

Ferrari, big picture star

James Bond's 'GoldenEye': 355 GTS (1995)

Driving a Ferrari 355 GTS, Russian agent Xenia Onatopp races against James Bond's famous Aston Martin DB5. While agent 007 enjoys the speed during the car chase, it freaks out the person riding with him, as well as a bunch of cyclists they meet on a road that's obviously narrow, steep and curvy. The race ends with Bond letting the Russian agent drive away.

Ferrari, big picture star

'Rush': Ferrari 312 T

Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) is believed to be a far better driver than his rival James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). They meet in a particularly dangerous race on Germany's notorious Nürburgring track, often dubbed the "green hell." Prior to the race, Lauda becomes the victim of a disastrous accident, suffering heavy burns. The 2013 film is based on true events during the Formula 1 season in 1976.

Ferrari, big picture star

'Le Mans': Ferrari 512 S

The mother of all car racing films feels like a thrilling documentary. Starring as racing driver Michael Delaney, Steve McQueen faces his rival, Ferrari pilot Erich Stahler (Siegfried Rauch) in a Porsche 917. During the 24-hour race of Le Mans, the two of them get involved in a very tough battle. There isn't much dialogue in this film from 1971, but that's compensated by spectacular racing scenes.

Ferrari, big picture star

'Bad Boys 2': Ferrari 550 Maranello

The two inspectors, Lowrey (Will Smith) and Burnett (Martin Lawrence), are tracing a gang of drug dealers. The climax of this 2003 film is a four-minute car race during which quite a few cars end up exploding, burning, or flying around in the air. But the tough Ferrari survives the carnage with just a few little wounds and a broken spotlight.

Ferrari, big picture star

'Tower Heist': Ferrari 250 GT Lusso

In this action comedy from 2011, an extremely rare exemplar of a GT Lusso gets smashed. The car is the property of a crooked stock market mogul who embezzles his clients. He used the Ferrari to hide his money in plain view: Underneath its paint, the car parts are made of gold.

Ferrari, big picture star

'Ferris Bueller's Day Off': 250 GT Spyder California

In this high school comedy from 1986, Ferris convinces his best friend to borrow his dad's prized Ferrari for a little joy ride. The car is left in a parking garage for a few hours, and the guards there also "borrow" the car, driving it over such a distance that it becomes obvious on the odometer. The boys try to cover up the situation, but that doesn't work out well...

Ferrari, big picture star

'Overdrive': 250 GTO

In this French film from 2017, two car thieves are hired to steal the extremely costly 1937 Bugatti Type 57 from their gangster boss Morier. Their attempt miserably fails, and they are caught by Morier. However, instead of having them killed, Morier grants them another chance: They are to steal the much beloved 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO of Morier's rival, Max Klemp.

Vanished without a trace

A police search has so far been without success, despite the seller taking a photo of the man when they first met.

The lookalike Ferrari 308 GTS was the car of choice for 1980s private investigator Thomas Magnum in the TV series Magnum, P.I. The Italian racing car was also featured in other classic TV shows and movies, such as Miami Vice, James Bond's Golden Eye and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Germany's best cult cars

Trabant 601 (1964)

The Trabant was to the East what the VW Beetle was to the West - a vehicle for the masses. It was cheap to produce, with an outer body made of hard plastic. The car's moment in the spotlight came with the fall of the Berlin wall, as citizens of the DDR spilled over the newly open East-West border in their "Trabis." There are still some 33,000 Trabants roaming the streets of Germany today.

Germany's best cult cars

VW Beetle (1938)

There's no stopping this faithful old model. With more than 21 million units having rolled off the production line, the VW Beetle is the most famous car in the world. From 1938 to 2003, its design never strayed far from the original - think "Herbie," or his German movie counterpart "Dudu."

Germany's best cult cars

VW T1 (1950)

The colorful VW Campervan, know as a "Bulli" in Germany, became a symbol of the hippie movement. Volkswagen wasn't initially too pleased about this, but it didn't do their sales any harm. More than 10 million VW buses have been sold since the model's introduction, of which 1.8 million were T1 models. They've also had an impressive film career - although mostly in supporting roles.

Germany's best cult cars

Messerschmitt Cabin Scooter (1953)

With three wheels and an aerodynamic body, it should come as no surprise that Messerschmitt was originally an aircraft manufacturer. After the Second World War, with production at a stand-still, the company agreed to work with engineer Fritz Fend on his "Flitzer" car model. It was a short-lived partnership - in 1956 Messerschmitt went back to aircraft production.

A Mercedes-Benz 300 SL mit open wing doors (Photo: Daimler AG)

Germany's best cult cars

Mercedes 300 SL (1954)

This car was nicknamed the "Gullwing," thanks to its wing-like doors. The 300 SL Silver Arrows racing car earned Mercedes-Benz a surprise comeback on the motorsport scene. After wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Carrera Panamericana racing events, a street version went into production.

Germany's best cult cars

BMW Isetta (1955)

It may not be speedy, but the BMW Isetta was still a financial success story for BMW between 1955 and 1962. Cheap and practical, this microvehicle with a motorcycle engine was known as a "bubble car." It opened at the front, just like a fridge.

Germany's best cult cars

Goggomobil (1955)

Another microcar with cult status is the Hans Glas "Goggo," named after the owner's grandson. Unlike other mini vehicles that had come before it, the Goggo could hold up to four people - although, given the car's 1.6-meter length, it was a bit of a squeeze. One of the car's key selling points was that it was so compact you only needed a motorcycle license to drive it.

Germany's best cult cars

Porsche 911 (1963)

With more than half a century of production behind it, the 911 is among the longest existing models in automobile history. In all its reincarnations, the trademark Porsche model has retained its most memorable features. With its striking headlights and its steep-sloped rear, the 911 is instantly recognizable.

A Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman-Limousine (Photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Germany's best cult cars

Mercedes-Benz 600 (1964)

An in-car telephone, air conditioning and a freezer compartment were just some features of the German luxury sedan of the 60s and 70s. It attracted an endless list of celebrity owners, from the Pope to John Lennon. It was a little too pricey for the German government's liking, but they did rent one for special occasions, such as the 1965 state visit of Queen Elizabeth II.

Germany's best cult cars

Opel Kadett B (1965)

According to a song by German punk band WIZO: "Whether limousine, estate or coupé - the coolest car is a Kadett B." It seems 2.7 million customers agreed, making this one of Opel's most successful models. In the early 70s, Opel used the advertising slogan "Das Auto" for the Kadett B - long before their rivals at Volkswagen recycled the phrase.

Germany's best cult cars

Wartburg 353 (1966)

The Wartburg, which takes its name from a castle in the car's home town of Eisenach, was largely produced for the export market. The cheap vehicles found some success in countries such as Hungary and Great Britain. Back in West Germany, however, demand was low - owning an East German car would have been quite the political statement.

Germany's best cult cars

NSU Ro 80 (1967)

When NSU presented the Ro 80, rival manufacturers were watching closely. The car's twin-rotor Wankel engine, which was named after its inventor Felix Wankel, earned it the title "Car of the Year 1967." Unfortunately the technology wasn't quite ready, and NSU began replacing the motors as a precautionary measure. This unsettled potential customers and the car ultimately flopped.

Germany's best cult cars

Mercedes Benz /8 "Stroke Eight" (1968)

The conservative W 114/115 series sedan was hardly the fastest Mercedes around, with a top speed of 130 km/h. That makes it perhaps all the more impressive that it was not uncommon to find a Stroke Eight with several million kilometers on the clock. The quality of the car earned Mercedes 1.9 million satisfied customers - and the Stroke Eight became a collector's item.

Germany's best cult cars

Opel GT (1968)

"Only flying is better," is how Opel advertised its answer to the American "muscle cars." Sweeping curves, supposedly reminiscent of a Coca-Cola bottle, and pop-up headlights completed the car's unique look. An affordable price tag meant the car also attracted attention in the United States.

Germany's best cult cars

VW Type 181 (1969)

Initially produced for the German army, VW marketed the Type 181 as a multipurpose leisure car for young people. It offered little in the way of comfort, but a retractable roof transformed this austere jeep into a convertible. The Type 181 was warmly received in the US, where it was known simply as "The Thing."

Germany's best cult cars

Opel Manta (1970)

What Opel intended as a middle-class sporty model quickly became a must-have item for young men. Cue countless jokes about Manta drivers and their modest IQs. Film producer Bernd Eichinger paid tribute to the car in his 1991 comedy "Manta Manta," which co-starred a young Til Schweiger.

Germany's best cult cars

VW Golf (1974)

In 1974, VW brought its first Golf model to market, billing it as the successor to the beloved Beetle. For a subcompact car, the Golf was surprisingly sporty and efficient - a big advantage following the 70s oil crisis. The car's success took even VW by surprise, and the convertible model, nicknamed the "Strawberry Basket," became a sought-after cult car.

Germany's best cult cars

Audi quattro (1980)

"Quattro," Italian for four, refers to the car's four-wheel drive element. This unique coupé caused quite a stir upon its release. Four years later, Audi brought out the high-performance Quattro Sport (pictured). Only 220 units were produced, making it a real collector's item. More than 11,000 units of the original version, known as the "Urquattro," were made.

kw/sms (AP, dpa)

DW sends out a selection of the day's news and features every evening. Sign up here.