As a species, human beings aren’t especially frugal creatures. We produce and consume with abandon, with little regard for the consequences of what happens with the things we leave behind. That reckless cycle doesn’t just apply to inexpensive goods either. You’d be shocked to learn what people will do with even some of the largest purchases they’ll ever make.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not spilling too many tears over that rusted out Dodge Neon you saw on your redneck uncle’s driveway. No, I’m talking about items that must have some sort of emotional connection to the buyer: no one buys a Ferrari or a Lamborghini under of the guise of being practical. That makes the following list even sadder. Not only is this a showcase of ruined high mechanical art, but also a culmination of crushed hopes and dreams. Sometimes that's down to reasons as petty as wanting to save a few bucks all the way to unforeseeable natural disasters that leave precious metal crushed and water-logged.
Anyway, enjoy the show (or don't).
20 Toyota MR2 in Tokyo
This sorry sight was snapped by Dino Dalle Carbonare from Speedhunters. With flat tires and a rusting, moss-covered body, this first-generation MR2 doesn’t look like its seen any recent action on Japan’s notoriously twisting mountain passes. What a shame that is: the AW11 was renowned in its day for its responsive chassis, handsome eighties styling and fizzy yet reliable 4A-GE 4-cylinder engine.
This one looked like it was modified to excel even further on the country's backroads: check out the extra HID running lamps and sporty yellow-striped steering wheel.
Carbonare reckons it hasn’t moved under its own power in about 10 years, and thinks it’s actually being used as a mere storage container by its owner, as evidenced by the cardboard boxes wedged inside its compact cockpit.
19 Aston Martin Lagonda in Long Island
I’ve skewered the Lagonda in the pages of this very website before for its, ahem, unfortunate interior styling. That said, I still think this piece of seventies futurism deserves a better fate than to languish in a parking lot for the rest of its life, soaked in mud and assorted detritus. It was just one of the many victims of Hurricane Sandy, which ripped through the East Coast in 2012, racking up damages worth over $70 billion and killing close to 300 people. This Lagonda used to be one of the best-preserved examples in the United States and claimed the honor of being the last left-hand drive model to leave the production line. It was put on the auction block by Autosport Designs, though it is unclear if anyone made the wise decision to buy a seventies British luxury sedan with complicated electrical systems after it had suffered severe flood damage.
18 Aston Martin Vanquish in Long Island
If you have a Sherlock Holmesian eye for detail, or maybe are just slightly more attentive than a drugged-up sloth, you may have noticed a second Aston Martin lurking in the background of the previous shot. Yes, Hurricane Sandy claimed two victims from Britain’s coolest carmaker. This time around, you're looking at an early 2000s Vanquish, just like the one 007 drove in Die Another Day, which I should feel to mention was undoubtedly the worst Brosnan-era Bond flick. Dodgy movie appearances aside, this gorgeous grand tourer deserves a better lot in life. It’s unclear if it actually sold at auction; I couldn’t see why anyone would buy a water-damaged seventies limo, but I REALLY can’t see what anyone would do with a car that features even more intricate electrical components. Pity, at least it’d make for a nice paperweight.
17 Porsche 911 in Tennessee
This poor creature was spotted next to abandoned farmhouse somewhere in Tennessee. The Porsche-savvy users over at rennlist.com reckon it to be a pre-1973 911, though the rough condition of the body and what look to be non-factory wing mirrors make identification difficult. Unfortunately, if this car was built prior to 1978, that would mean that the body is not made of galvanized steel. Translation? The panels and underlying chassis would be badly compromised due to rust, and cost a pretty penny to fix. Again, deferring to the more knowledgeable minds on the forum, repair costs to get the car back to showroom specification would probably reach somewhere around $40,000. It just might be worth it though: classic 911 prices have skyrocketed in recent years, especially more coveted models like the 911S, which are near-impossible to find for under $200,000.
16 Lamborghini Aventador in Dubai
One of the many supercars left behind in Dubai, at least we can thank the owner of this one for parking it indoors. No one really seems to know why it was left here, though. I’m not sure exactly how much money you need to be able to practically throw away a near $400,000 slice of Italian exotica in an underground parking lot in one of the wealthiest cities on Earth, but I think I can make an educated guess: it’s a lot. Maybe it was the fuel costs that did him in. The Aventador weighs in at a whisker under two tons, and the 690 HP 6.5 liter V12 is hardly the most parsimonious drinker.
15 Bentley Continental in Chengdu
If you ever find yourself in the heavily forested region of Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province, be careful not to trip over a piece of bespoke Germanic-British engineering. According to an article published in a 2016 issue of West China Economic Daily, local police own and operate this heavily overgrown impound lot for long-term storage of cars that are either waiting to be scrapped or were involved in criminal investigations. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like the big ol’ Bentley is getting crushed: authorities allowed it and a few other luxury cars stuck in purgatory to be auctioned off to the public. The question is, will anyone be willing to purchase a high-maintenance premium car that’s been out in the elements for an extended period of time?
14 Audi TT in Italy
As a total package, the first-generation Audi TT never quite got the amount of respect that its Bauhaus-chic sheetmetal inspired in aesthetes. I'm not saying it deserved to either: the TT shared a platform and several engine choices with the entirely pedestrian Mk4 Volkswagen Golf.
On initial release in 1998, the TT garnered some seriously bad press after drivers discovered some gnarly high-speed handling characteristics.
Audi fixed that problem with a recalibrated suspension setup, an electronic stability control system, and a nifty little ducktail spoiler, but not before five people had lost their lives. Somehow, in spite of all that, I wouldn’t hesitate to try and rescue his little coupe, especially considering this one has the lusty 3.2 liter V6 engine option, driving all four wheels with a stout 247 HP.
13 Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport in the UK
No doubt, some of you reading will hardly take a glance at the tired looking hatchback in the above photo and skip over to the next entry. Eh, so what, you might say, it’s a silver econobox with some big wheels. Well, before you move on, I suggest looking a little closer. See those air intakes on the flanks of the car? That just hints at the corporate madness that allowed the Clio V6 to get past the baguette-crunching bean counters at Renault HQ in 2001. If you’d popped the hatch to find a convenient spot for your pint of Ben and Jerry’s, you’d be sorely disappointed.
Instead of a sensibly-sized cargo bay and a second row of seats, you’d only find a thing of beauty, that being a transversely-mounted 3.0 liter V6 engine kicking out 227 HP.
It’s a shame to see on so badly treated, as the motoring press loved it. As per a retrospective review from Evo magazine, “Mass behind you, light steering, a crescendoing howl from six cylinders… close your eyes and you could be in a 911” Praise doesn’t get much higher than that.
12 Lotus Elite under Liverpool
This beautiful shot taken by British photographer Charlie Magee features a Lotus with a name that might be unfamiliar to current-day audiences. The 1974 Elite was the brand’s first attempt in trying to shed its cheerfully flimsy reputation with a striking, wedge-shaped shooting brake. For those not in the know, a shooting brake design refers to a 3-door wagon with a sleek, coupe-like front end. For contemporary examples of the breed, consider the Ferrari FF or its successor, the GTC4 Lusso. The Elite (and closely related Eclat 2-door) can claim to be the last Lotuses to have significant design input from the brand’s founder, Colin Chapman, before his untimely death in 1982. This particular car’s final resting place was once a garage located inside an abandoned railway tunnel. The tunnel entrances collapsed in 2012, making it difficult, if not impossible, to extract this 4-wheeled treasure.
11 Eunos Cosmo in Japan
If you’re not particularly interested in JDM oddities, I wouldn’t blame you for not recognizing the two-tone luxury coupe in the picture above. If I’m being honest, the Cosmo remains one of my favorite byproducts of Japan’s early nineties bubble economy, the same era that gave rise to legendary nameplates like Supra and Skyline. Seeing one, as documented by the 'wasabicars' Youtube channel, in such a state definitely makes me mad.
The Eunos brand was Mazda’s stab at creating an upmarket subsidiary, much like what Lexus did for Toyota.
The Cosmo was the marque’s flagship for 1990, and featured a choice of twin-turbocharged 3-rotor Wankel engines with differing displacements. The base 1.3 liter 13B-RE (a close relative of the rotary used in the FD-chassis Mazda RX-7) served up a glassy-smooth 235 HP, while the top-end 2.0 liter 20B-REW kicked out a mighty 300 HP (top speed for the latter was just under 160 MPH). This JDM grand-tourer combined the sophisticated power delivery of a rotary engine with high-tech luxury features, namely a touch-screen to control the car's GPS, climate control, analogue TV, and mobile phone interfaces.
10 Jaguar XJ220 in the Qatari desert
Before the McLaren F1 dropped a 240 MPH shock and awe campaign on the motoring world, Jaguar’s XJ220 wore the crown of the world’s fastest production car. During testing at the Nardò Ring high-speed testing facility in Italy in 1992, this all-British supercar hit 217.1 MPH with former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle behind the wheel. All this speed came courtesy of a battle-tested 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged V6, a derivative of the lump used in Austin-Rover’s short-lived MG Metro 6R4 Group B rally car. The engine cranked out 540 HP in its highest state of tune, which made it a chunk brawnier than its forced induction rivals from Italy and Germany (that extra power didn’t actually provide much more pace than the Ferrari F40 or Porsche 959, as the former was almost 500 lb lighter, while the latter had a similar curb weight to the Jag, but packaged an additional pair of driven wheels). Seeing a showroom-fresh example (reports indicate that this Lemans-blue example had just 560 miles on the odometer) left in the middle of one of the most inhospitable places on Earth isn’t just upsetting, it’s also completely baffling.
9 Ford Thunderbird in North Carolina
Taken by Abandoned Cars and Trucks photographer Ralph Gable, this picture gives us a good look at a poorly neglected example a third-generation Ford Thunderbird. I wouldn’t really describe myself as a rabid enthusiast of vintage American iron, but I do retain a soft spot for Ford’s forward thinking coupe. The Thunderbird nameplate built its reputation by offering buyers a luxury experience that encapsulated the aesthetic tastes of any given era; this model, built from 1961 to 1963, channeled fighter-jet chic with an aerodynamic silhouette and ‘afterburner’ tail lights. Thrust (heh) came via a 6.4 liter V8, which, in ‘M-code’ guise, came with a Apollo-mission worthy 340 HP.
8 BMW 635csi in Ontario
How rare is it to find a mid-eighties BMW with a mint-condition body in Ontario? Like most places in the North American northeast, the province’s roads are covered in enough salt to effectively disintegrate vintage sheetmetal during the winter. The resting place of this quasi-mummified German grand tourer is an abandoned BMW dealership in Oakville. Even though the business closed its doors in 2002, it seems as though the owner hadn’t bothered with emptying out most of the inventory for over 12 years: an E24-chassis 5-Series kept the 635csi company, along with a completely preserved lobby furnished with eighties-appropriate couches and chairs. Unfortunately for any ambitious collectors, the two vehicles disappeared from the dealership in 2014. Besides, I’m not entirely convinced that the picture was as rosy as it looked: even if the car was completely rust free, nearly three decades without use would almost definitely rot every single rubber gasket and hose in the car.
7 Opel GT in Tennessee
This is yet another rural Tennessee find (man, what is it with you guys and abandoning tiny German sports cars from the 1960s?). While the Opel GT never enjoyed the same sort of widespread popularity as sixties sports car contemporaries from the United Kingdom, Germany, or Japan, it did have its own quirks and features. Chief among those were its unique pop-up headlights: instead of the usual back-hinged system, the GTs headlights would spin counter clockwise around an axis parallel to the length of the car.
Mechanically speaking, it borrowed a lot from other Opel commuter cars: a fairly conventional transverse leaf spring suspension setup in the front with coil springs and a live axle at the rear.
It was offered with either a 1.1 liter 4-cylinder engine, or a larger 1.8 liter unit with an unusual layout: Opel designated this proprietary engine architecture as ‘Cam-in-head’. The design is exactly what it sounds like: the camshaft was placed above the cylinders and butted right alongside the valves. Essentially, it was a fusion of pushrod and OHC technologies. The heavily rusted state of this model makes it hard to know which engine the owner had opted for, though its not stupid to assume that they went the bigger 1.8 unit, as most buyers did.
6 Ferrari 488 in West Yorkshire
Ferrari’s modern cars are marvels of technological integration; drive one of their cars with all of the driver assistance systems on, and you’ll feel like Sebastian Vettel nailing a perfect upshift on the way up Radillion at Spa. Should you ever wind up with more confidence than skill, and end up turning off those systems, you’ll very quickly find yourself at the mercy of just over 660 twin-turbocharged stallions being forced through the rear axle. That same hubris is probably what led to the driver of this Italian rocket ship to park their high-priced wheels in the middle of a field in West Yorkshire, UK. According to the Daily Mail, that courageous and immensely skilled pilot was nowhere to be found when police arrived at the scene of the accident.
5 Ford Escort Cosworth in Sweden
For worshippers at the church of high-performance Fords, Cosworth might as well be a patron saint. The London-based engine builder was founded in 1958, and built one of the most dominant racing engines ever: the Cosworth DFV was a 3.0 liter V8 that saw use in everything from Formula 1 to powerboat racing to Indycar. In fact, the DFV had an unprecedented 20-year career in the latter series, racking up 167 race wins for the numerous teams that used it. Thanks to this illustrious heritage, Ford was more than happy to bring them on to extensively rework a few Escort compacts for both Group A rallying as well as the homologated road cars (the company was equally involved with the Ford Sierra Cosworth, a mechanically related predecessor). The resulting product, the imaginatively-named Escort Cosworth, featured four-wheel drive, a near-indestructible YBT turbocharged inline-4, and a ridiculous rear spoiler. This lot in Rimbo, Sweden, doesn’t only feature an array of Escort Cosworths in serious need of repair, but also a few four-door Sierras.
4 Maserati Quattroporte in Israel
Lauded by the motoring press for its Ferrari-derived 4.7 liter V8 screamer of an engine and razor-sharp chassis, the fifth-generation Maserati Quattroporte was described as the “the finest large sporting saloon in the world” by Top Gear magazine’s Bill Thomas in 2009.
This unfortunate example seems to be a total loss; a massive storm system hit Israel in the late summer of 2015, causing flooding across the entire country, with some coastal areas seeing close to 10 centimeters of rainfall within an hour.
Though details are scant, it seems that the driver and their passengers were able to evacuate this four-door exotic before it succumbed to both water and impact damage from being swept away by the exceptionally strong currents.
3 Chevrolet Camaro in Japan
Another find courtesy of 'wasabicars' on Youtube, this nearly all-original second-generation Camaro Z/28 was left to die far away from its homeland. Featuring a numbers-matching 350 cubic-inch LT-1 small block, which made a slightly more tepid than expected 250 horsepower (blame strict emissions regulations and a different measurement system for horsepower). Of course, the Z/28 package was never just about straight-line grunt, as the first-gen was designed with the explicit purpose of winning races in the brutal SCCA Trans-Am series, which also featured everything from Mustangs to Alfa Romeo competing on America's trickiest road courses like Lime Rock and Road Atlanta. With this clapped-out example sporting the sought-after split-bumper option, it might just be worth rescuing, as prices for those can fetch anywhere between $20,000 to $60,000.
2 Ford GT in Israel
It's hard to find someone who hates America's mid-engined superstar. I suppose I'd have to include the authorities who confiscated this white-on grey example among that rare group, as evidenced by the GT's missing front wheels, front hood, and rear clamshell engine cover; that dust can't be good for the Ford's supercharged 5.4 liter V8.
The car was confiscated after investigators discovered that its wealthy owner registered it as a Mustang GT to save on road tax.
That gamble doesn't really look like it paid off. The story gets even more depressing when you discover that Ford imported under 600 units outside of North America, meaning that one of the precious few examples to cross either the Atlantic or Pacific ocean is stuck in automotive purgatory.
1 Ferrari Enzo in Dubai
I’m going to be honest, it’s going to be pretty hard to top this one. The Enzo was Ferrari’s early noughties hypercar, a carbon-fiber paneled technological tour de force with a 6.0 liter V12 engine mounted just behind the driver’s back. It featured technologies that are still considered cutting-edge today, like active aerodynamics and carbon fibre-reinforced silicon carbide brake discs. So what’s this beast doing in the middle of an impound lot in Dubai? Well unfortunately, the city’s law enforcement is remaining tight-lipped. Rumors have raged over the issue ever since pictures of the car started circling the web almost 8 years ago, ranging from a stolen vehicle on its way to a Chinese buyer all the way to a British businessman who skipped town because he couldn’t afford the traffic fees. Whatever the reason, abandoning a work of art like this should be enough to put you behind bars.