The story of the 1996 Ferrari F50 that was stolen from a Pennsylvania dealership, lost for five years, then crashed by two FBI agents, has gained some plot twists. The story begins in 2003 with Tom Baker, an airline pilot with a love for all things Ferrari and a serious talent for slick talking. It ends with an insurance company locked in litigation with the Department of Justice, trying to recover the $625,000 it paid Algar Ferrari/Maserati for the now-worthless Ferrari.
Baker, an airline pilot, realized he'd never be able to afford one of Maranello's finest, and hatched a plan to live his dream by illegal means. Turns out the Pennsylvania F50 wasn't Baker's only heist. Baker started relatively small, convincing North Carolina Ferrari dealer Steve Barney to let him take a 1989 Ferrari 328 GTS for a test drive, never to return.
According to Barney, Baker worked a perfect con, making fast friends with the dealer. Barney, who was battling cancer at the time he met Baker, said the con man told him he was a radiologist, even taking the time to look at his X-rays and asking what medication he was on. One day, Baker asked to test drive the 328 GTS. Barney obliged, and never saw Baker again.
Continue Reading Followup: More fascinating backstory behind the FBI-wrecked Ferrari F50...
[Source: Philly.com | Image: Ferrari]
Next, Baker bilked a Long Island dealer out of a 1985 Ferrari Testarossa. His pièce de résistance, though, was the F50. Baker, without his driver's license, waltzed into Algar Ferrari/Maserati in Philadelphia, claiming he was the CEO of a California tech firm. He said he had flown in from Atlanta to look at the F50, and was ready to make a down payment after a test drive.
When the dealership handed over the keys, Baker took off, accelerating Ferrari F50 No. 29 to 100 miles per hour before cresting a hill and disappearing. The next time anyone saw the car was in 2008, when FBI agents seized it from the Kentucky emergency room doctor Baker had sold it to. The doctor, who had reported the car stolen after checking the VIN against Ferrari's records, lost both the car and the $375,000 he had paid Baker for it.
That's where the story takes an odd turn. Baker, the brazen and apparently heartless con man, gave the F50 buyer his money back, in an apparent attempt to cover his tracks. Through the whole ordeal, Baker appeared to keep his cool.
With the car in hand, the feds arrested Baker, the insurance company was notified that the car had been found and the F50 was put into storage. Prior to Baker's sentencing, two FBI agents, allegedly moving the car from one storage facility to another, ran the car into a tree, totaling it. Now, Motors Insurance Group wants the feds to pony up the money they paid Algar for the car back in 2003. They'd also like to know exactly what the two agents were doing driving the car.
The Department of Justice, however, won't budge. They say that since the Ferrari was being detained by the FBI for an investigation, the money isn't their problem. As it stands, the matter remains to be untangled in court. As for the whereabouts of the mangled F50, both sides say they haven't got a clue where it's being stored.