Watching BBC News on June 12th was much akin to stumbling across a wild life programme while channel hopping. There in the rain on the M25, was Team Japspeed's impressive Subaru Impreza drift car racer enjoying it's 30 hours of unrestrained freedom. Filmed by a motorway traveller who had no idea that the car was actually a stolen vehicle at the time, it reminded me of a rare beast that had been nurtured and released back into the wild.
This wasn't a case of steal a vehicle, change the number plates and get a respray though, as this customised Subaru was not road legal, so any form of modified car insurance would be out of the question.
But although the voice in the background wasn't David Attenborough's telling us how far this race car could go without food (not far), or for what distance it could run at top speed before running out of stamina, there was a curious animalistic excitement about the situation. Enthusiast car forums were updating faster than you could read them with rumours and possible sightings. It was much like the many twitchers that flocked to a rubbish dump in January to see a rare gull that was visiting these shores.
The rear wheel drive, heavily modified, 500bhp 1JZ 6-cylinder turbo engined scooby was stolen from the Performance Vauxhall Show (PVS) at Santa Pod, where it was being driven on this occasion by Japspeed team driver Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni (Shane Lynch of Boyzone is also a driver). As the show was winding down in the evening it seems it was just driven away. I would wonder how such a thing is possible to do, but only last year a neighbour of mine somehow had their dvd player stolen from their house as they were loading the car up to go on holiday – I gave up wondering after that happened.
It was a thankfully brief episode though, as from the morning of 13th June, Japspeed's homepage carried the breaking news headline “Team Japspeed Impreza FOUND”. Though there is still precious little information available as the investigation goes on. This unique automobile was found by Thames Valley Police in the Reading area, partially stripped. Of course, apart from finding it burnt out in an Home Counties suburb, this was the big fear for the custom built Impreza, but it seems this beast of a car was recaptured in good time before too much damage was done.
I wonder though whether it was the the fact that this particular racing motor was so distinctive, had an army of forum dwellers on the case, or that it only had a 20 litre fuel tank that enabled it to be found so quickly.
So having generated more online interest than Boyzone's reunion in just a couple of days, the only thing left to ponder now (apart from how the thieves got these bright yellow hot wheels away undetected), is how the chap on the M25 managed to film it while driving.