We can’t deny that there’s a certain thrill in seeing precious things being desecrated. It’s a tricky mental phenomenon to explain: definitely not a good feeling, but something that elicits strong emotions, which can be a rush of its own. Imagine how you’d feel if you saw a cracked Fabergé egg, or the Mona Lisa with a mustache drawn over her face. Of course, if you’re looking at this article, you probably get the same feeling whenever you see a Lamborghini or a Rolls-Royce on a flatbed trailer.
It’s a shock to the system, seeing something that costs well over ten times the price of a Corolla being towed by the same guy in the same grubby-looking high-visibility jacket. If you’ll allow me to indulge my artsy-fartsy literary instincts, it’s all faintly reminiscent of the words that Mark Twain allegedly spoke on his deathbed: “Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all–the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.” Much like how all human beings, regardless of personal wealth, are just meat and bone, cars, regardless of pedigree or potency, are just metal and rubber (okay, fine, sometimes composites, leather, and irreplaceable history, but still, I’d like to think that my point still stands).
So try and keep my ham-handed attempts at philosophizing in your mind as we take a look at twenty of the most depressing pictures of wheeled exotica being towed.
20 Aston Martin DB9 Volante
This video screencap comes courtesy of the upscale London neighborhood of Knightsbridge. According to the videographer, well-known automotive Youtuber Schmee150, the owner of this post-2013 (as dictated by the clear-lensed taillights) Aston Martin DB9 Volante (that’s fancy-talk for "convertible") parked on a yellow line during daytime hours.
The end result of this parking violation was a scary-looking hoist onto a flatbed trailer and a hefty £250 ticket (that’s about 335 all-American greenbacks), not to mention the holding fee for each day that the car has been impounded. That’s probably peanuts if the owner of this stricken British beauty can afford the premium-quaffing tendencies of its 5.9 liter V12 (rated at a dismal 10 MPG on the urban cycle).
19 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
The owner of this V8 Vantage is quirky internet-based automotive journalist Doug DeMuro, who bought the car for an eminently reasonable $45,000 (with a seemingly extremely-necessary unlimited-mileage warranty), only to have it towed after it started making a terrible racket.
Although the issue was diagnosed as a rock stuck between the brake rotor and backing plate, described by DeMuro in his inimitable style (“[…] a metal-on-metal clanging and a high-pitched squealing noise in a vocal range traditionally reserved for dying animals and people on American Idol who cry when they aren’t chosen”), the real problems started after it was brought to the dealer and its check-engine light turned on…
18 Audi R8 Spyder
The reckless 30-year-old driver of this Tango Red Audi R8 Spyder was lucky not to be arrested by Toronto police after cracking 150 kilometers per hour on a highway with a 100 km/h speed limit (that’s roughly 100 MPH in a 60 MPH zone in yank-speak).
Retribution came in the form of a $10,000 CAD ticket and a seven-day license suspension, while the poor R8 was brought to an impound lot.
I’m using the word "driver" instead of "owner" for this entry, as the dingus behind the wheel was taking this six-figure slice of exotica on a test drive with an Audi sales representative in the passenger seat.
17 Bentley Continental GT
Money and fame can’t save you from a dead battery, even if your name is Paris Hilton and the car that it’s installed in is a 500 hp-plus heavyweight British grand-tourer with a sticker price of just under $160,000. The big ol’ Bentley apparently conked out in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, only to be recovered by AAA towing services. Maybe that’s some of mid-2000s era Volkswagen reliability creeping though, as the Phaeton luxury sedan that the Continental was based on was plagued with gremlins stemming from its complex electrical systems.
16 BMW i8
The aerodynamically-optimized lines BMW’s complex hybrid sports car makes a big enough impression even when painted in typically Teutonic hues of silver, beige, and black. Honestly, wrapping it in red-and-black “SAFETYCAR” livery pushes it well past the line of eye-catching and far into the realm of tackiness. It seems that its owner has the same awful taste in parking as they do in color schemes, as it was apparently impeding the flow of traffic in a yellow zone during San Francisco rush hour. That’s a risk to health and safety that not even the i8’s inline-three and zero-emissions front axle-mounted electric motor combo can overcome.
15 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Even in its most agile Z28 trim, a factory specification F-body Camaro was never going to handle with the same delicacy as, say, a Porsche Boxster or Mazda Miata. That’s probably why the owner of this LS1-powered muscle car upped its corner-carving capabilities with a host of aftermarket parts: UMI suspension kits front and back, Eibach lowering springs, Bilstein shocks, and gumball Kumho ECSTA XS tires.
Those upgrades couldn’t stop nearly 3600 lbs of all-American beef from cooking its brake fluid and slamming into a wall at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
14 Dodge Challenger Hellcat
With 707 raging stallions under the hood, (relatively) skinny 275-width tires, and a chunky 4,469 lb curb weight, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat has earned its reputation for being a car you need to respect when driving on twisty roads (you could say that corner-carving isn’t the Hellcat’s raison-d’etre, but most people’s daily commutes aren’t made entirely of drag strips).
That’s a lesson the former owner of this vividly-painted beast learned very early, having managed to roll their car with just 18 miles on the odometer.
The vehicle was then acquired by Ohio-based garage Cleveland Power and Performance, who were able to sell off the engine and parts of the interior, both of which were still in factory-fresh condition.
13 Ferrari F430 Spider
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the F430 (disregarding the lightweight, track-ready Scuderia model). The auditory charms of its naturally-aspirated screamer of an engine and razor-sharp chassis simply couldn’t make up for its trout-like visage; what’s the point in owning a Ferrari if you don’t smile while looking at it? Well, it seems that a reliability is another F430 weak point, as the 4.3 liter V8 of this ragtop Spider model apparently decided to give up the ghost during a quick jaunt around New York City, though the root cause was not diagnosed by its driver.
12 Ferrari FXX
Even limited-edition, seven-figure Italian track specials can't escape the looming specter of the flatbed trailer. I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the point of cars like the FXX and its knife-edged ilk is to be driven flat out on some of the most challenging man-made routes anywhere on earth.
This one earned its scars after going off track at the infamous Corkscrew corner at Laguna Seca Raceway.
Battle scars or no, Ferrari only made 38 FXXes, each priced at a cool 2.1 million USD, so hitting the wall still must have come as quite the shock for the owner of this example.
11 Ferrari LaFerrari
Despite being cursed with a name no car should ever have to endure, the greatest shame that this Ferrari LaFerrari faced was being hoisted onto the bed of a tow truck. The incident occurred in Munich, Germany, but details surrounding the incident are sketchy at best. It could have been a simple illegal parking job or a serious mechanical failure. With a fiendishly complex powertrain assembly under its carbon fiber skin, comprising of a 6.5 liter naturally aspirated V12 hooked up to an electric motor with a Formula 1-aping kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), any potential repair bills would best be described as astronomical.
10 Lamborghini Aventador in Kensington
Lamborghinis are infamous for being bought by rich folks who love noise and image more than handling delicacy: British automotive journalist and current Top Gear host Chris Harris once called them “the perfect cars for people who can't drive and want to be seen.”
That reputation wasn’t bettered by the driver of this matte-black Aventador, who allegedly collided with a hatchback coming out of a right-hand turn before pinballing into a parked BMW. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the high-speed collision. The incident took place on Sloane Street, located in the very rich London borough of Kensington.
9 Lamborghini Aventador in Chicago
There’s a reason why many of the cars you’ve seen on this list have been popped on the back of a flatbed truck rather than the stereotypical method of being dragged around by a diesel-chugging workhorse.
A combination of low ride heights and fear of litigation means that towing companies will usually do everything in their power to keep the ground-hugging front ends of supercars, even ones that are being *ahem* moved, from scraping the ground.
Apparently, that memo didn’t reach the offices of this Chicago-based “recovery” firm, who hoisted the back end of this Aventador above the ground and let the carbon fiber front valance shred itself to bits. They’ll be undoubtedly facing some significant legal pressure from the car’s owner, who, in a stroke of cosmic retribution, is a high-end corporate lawyer.
8 McLaren 570S
It’s absurd to realize that the 570 is McLaren’s ‘entry-level’ car: anything that pumps out over 560 hp, leaps to 60 MPH in a smidge under three seconds, and has a carbon fiber tub should abandon the same label that Toyota applies to the Yaris. Unfortunately, the 570S’s 1.05 gs of lateral grip and carbon ceramic brakes couldn’t save it from the only factor that really matters: driver competence. Or, in this case, driver incompetence. This baby Mclaren was totaled in an accident near Shanghai, the force of which was sufficient to almost completely flatten the front end of the car and deploy all of the 570S’s airbags: I shiver to think what would happen to the occupants of anything with a floppier structure and a less comprehensive set of safety features.
7 McLaren MP4-12C
The MP4-12C was the British brand’s first attempt at building a supercar since the all-conquering F1 from nearly two decades earlier. Considering how far the game had moved on since then, McLaren did a pretty bang-up job on their first road-going offering for the 21st century.
It seems that the efforts of Woking’s finest were lost on both the New York owner of this pearly white example, who made the unwise decision of parking in an illegal zone, and the NYPD, who didn’t follow procedure when towing a low-slung supercar on the city’s infamously pockmarked roads by dragging it behind a tow truck. Miraculously, the driver of the recovery rig managed not to tear off the McLaren’s front bumper.
6 Nissan GT-R
Age may have dulled the edge of its underdog price tag and once-bleeding edge technology, but even after a decade on the supercar market, the Nissan GT-R is still a force to be reckoned with. Its hideously complex ATTESA E-TS (that’s Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-terrain with Electronic Torque Split, which is just long enough to justify the acronym) AWD setup is where the GT-R derives much of its world-beating potency; using two parallel driveshafts, the GT-R can shuffle the power of its 3.8 liter, twin-turbocharged V6 in an even 50:50 split when required.
Unfortunately, that mechanical arrangement means it must be loaded onto a flatbed (or in such a way that keeps the axles from turning independently) when being towed, which is something that the NYPD completely ignored while moving this grey example.
5 Nissan Skyline GT-R
The R33-chassis Skyline GT-R is the unloved middle child of the R32-through-R34 family, a car with far more weight than the former and none of the snub-nosed aesthetic brutality of the latter. It also happens to be my favorite for those exact same reasons. More luxurious than the old-fashioned R32 (introduced back in 1989) while also lacking the same Fast and the Furious reputation associated its successor; ergo, no $50,000-plus listings on Craigslist. Then there’s also the cool factor that comes with being one of the first production cars to crack the 8-minute mark at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. That performance pedigree was wasted on the 17-year-old Aussie owner of this GT-R, who slammed it into the side of a house just 60 minutes after purchasing it.
4 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The Porsche 911 family tree is complex and filled with twisting paths that branch off to wildly different locations. That’s why I’ll walk you through this model name and translate it into plain English: "GT3" refers to 911 models with high-revving naturally-aspirated flat-sixes and sharpened chassis, while the "RS" moniker designates adding a heaping dose of track focus to the mix, usually expressed in the form of the time-tested “roll-cage, stickers, and obsessive-compulsive weight-saving” method.
It seems that Porsche’s bulletproof build quality standards met their match in the form of the Hamburg, Germany-based owner of the 997.1 chassis GT3 RS, who had to have his car towed after its six-speed gearbox shredded itself to pieces.
3 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead
This unfortunate sight, coming out of the coastal Westside, California neighborhood of Pacific Palisades, has an even more tragic backstory.
The former owner of this azure Phantom Drophead was late Parisian musical icon Jean-Philippe Léo Smet, better known by his stage name of Johnny Hallyday, who was one of France’s first true rock stars: some called him “French Elvis.”
Following his passing just over six months ago from lung cancer, his widow opted to sell his prized hand-built piece of bespoke British luxury (worth over half a million dollars from the factory) for an undisclosed amount.
2 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
I think this is the only entry on this list to be towed more than once. The buyer of this Rolls Royce, one Alan McTavish, 66, acquired the antique automobile for the princely sum of £10,000 (that’s just over $13,000 USD). He experienced his worst nightmare after it rolled off the back of his trailer and ended up on its roof while on a narrow country road near Wiltshire, UK, buckling its roof and crumpling the rest of the body panels.
The worst part? The vehicle’s insurance wouldn’t kick in until midnight, meaning he couldn’t recoup any of the necessary repair costs even after the car was put on the back of a flatbed truck.
1 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Subaru’s legendary line of STI performance cars has a deserved reputation for being hooligan-mobiles. It’s not without just cause, as no other car has ever made rally-honed, all-wheel-drive turbocharged nuttiness quite so cheap or affordable.
The Subie’s all-weather traction has made a fool of many who assumed their car’s grip resources and depth of skill were bottomless, only to slide off the road and tumble onto a grassy verge.
At least, we can only assume that’s what happened to this cobalt blue example, as evidenced by the tufts of grass poking out between the wheels and the tires, not to mention the obvious structural damage.