Every car owner’s worst fear is stepping outside only to realize their vehicle has been stolen. Not only is it costly to replace a missing car, but it leaves them without a source of transportation. On top of that, for many folks, their cars carry a certain sentimental value.

Such was the case for one Porsche owner in Oregon whose beautiful and valuable vehicle was stolen 25 years ago. After so much time had passed, it really seemed like all hope was lost.

On January 20, 1991, the police department of Jackson County, Oregon, received a call about a crime that initially didn’t seem all that uncommon: someone wanted to report that their car had been stolen outside Southside Cinema in Medford, about 27 miles from the California border.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office

It wasn’t just any car, though: it was a Porsche 924. This was a particularly special vehicle because when it was first manufactured in 1976, it was the iconic German car company’s first product to offer a fully automatic transmission.

As for the one stolen outside that Oregon movie theater in 1991, police weren’t sure if they would ever find it. Time passed, and the car remained missing for more than two decades. Then, the authorities received a very interesting phone call…

BKP / Wikimedia Commons

On November 28, 2017, nearly 26 years after the car was stolen, Jackson County police received a tip from a caller who reported seeing something strange on a rural trail while walking his dog.

Bill Johnson / Wikimedia Commons

The man was reportedly strolling through the woods near Crater Lake National Park when he spotted an overturned car. Soon enough, the police rushed to the location to examine the potential crime scene.

Markgorzynski / Wikimedia Commons

It looked like the car had been lying on the hillside for a long time. Whose car was it? And how had it gotten there? Upon further investigation, police confirmed that it was the same Porsche that was stolen 27 years prior! So what happened to it?

There was little way of knowing how long the car had been in the woods. Police confirmed that the car’s registration expired the same year it was stolen, way back in 1991. So, was it simply abandoned after the crime was committed? Or was something darker afoot?

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office

Police then discovered something horrifying by the scene of the accident: bones. Thankfully, forensics teams were able to confirm the bones came from a deer, and not a human.

Rick Forgo / Unsplash

“The vehicle’s location on steep, muddy terrain presents logistical and environmental concerns for removal,” read a November 2017 statement from the sheriff’s department. “Officials are working to determine the best course of action.” And so the mystery continued…

Believe it or not, this wasn’t the first time people found long-lost sports cars decades later. In 1978, a group of children in Los Angeles, California, stumbled upon a car buried in their yard while playing outside their home.

Jalopnik

In that case, an excavation revealed that it was a 1974 Dino 246 GTS—a car manufactured by Ferrari. Somehow, the sports car had ended up buried in the front yard. Talk about strange!

Jalopnik

Thankfully, police tracked down the owner. He was a plumber from Alhambra, California, named Rosendo Cruz, and he originally purchased the car as a birthday gift to his wife. It was stolen on December 7, 1974. Who knows how long it was underground…

Mr. Choppers / Wikimedia Commons

Of course, this car would be worth roughly $70,000 today! Police never figured out who’d stolen the Dino 246 GTS or why it was buried. Neither the neighbors nor the current tenants could recall any suspicious activity, either. And that wasn’t the only sports car with a mysterious backstory…

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The East Coast has had its fair share of sports cars popping up in strange places, too. Once, a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette was stolen from Manhattan’s Alan Poster; he didn’t have insurance and he suffered financially. Then, in 2006—almost 37 years later—it was found all the way in Long Beach, California.

Anthony Quintano / Wikimedia Commons

Eventually, Alan, by then a successful Northern California businessman, was tracked down by authorities. The car still belonged to him since he hadn’t filed an insurance claim on it, and he couldn’t be happier to finally have his special Corvette back.

Supercars

These kinds of bizarre sports car discoveries aren’t limited to the United States, either. In August 2017, about 100 miles east of Paris in the town of Châlons-en-Champagne, police retrieved a Peugot 104 in a local pond. What was its deal?

Vassil / Wikimedia Commons

After being towed to a nearby garage, local mechanic Franck Ménard was surprised by how good it still looked. “It still looks like a 104,” he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. “The paintwork is still blue and there’s still chrome on the bumpers.”

The Telegraph

Amazingly, the car had been missing for nearly four decades after initially being reported as stolen in 1979. The original owner was even located by the police, although by that point it was officially owned by her insurer. Still, she took it for one nostalgic drive anyway.

The Telegraph

Finally, in Frankfurt, Germany in 2017, a man’s car was found 20 years after it went missing. It was located in the garage of a building that was scheduled to be demolished; someone reported it to authorities when they thought it was in the way of the demolition.

Arne Hückelheim / Wikimedia Commons

Interestingly, while the police did eventually trace this car back to its owner, now 76 years old, there was no evidence of a crime. He simply forgot where he parked! Yet the owner was happy to reunite with it before it was turned into scrap metal.

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A car is more than just a way to get around. It’s a statement, a reflection of the driver’s personality and ambitions. Unfortunately, sometimes our dream cars simply slip through our grip. Other times, however, our fantasy rides come right back into our lives when we least expect it.

Just ask Kyle Cropsey of Lindenhurst, NY. He always appreciated the beach lifestyle, but he was constantly on the lookout for one important missing piece that would complete his look…

YouTube / CBS New York

Back in 2010, Kyle hit the waves at Rockaway Beach, one of his usual spots. But when he took a breather, he finally spotted the treasure he’d been searching for his entire life.

Flickr / Shinya Suzuki

It was his dream car: a 1971 Volkswagen Type 2, also known as a ‘minibus’. It was a legendary vehicle, and quite rare — Volkswagen stopped making them years ago!

Even though he was just sixteen, Kyle had a passion for automobiles and vintage car culture. Now that he was of driving age, he wanted nothing more than to someday get behind the wheel of a Type 2. 

He quickly jotted down a note, stating his interest in buying the minibus if it ever went up for sale. Kyle slipped it through a gap in the window. Rather than landing on the seat, however, it glided to the floor.

Of course, Kyle knew that he’d probably never hear anything back from the van’s owners, even if they found the note. As a consolation prize, he took a photo of himself with the car.

YouTube / CBS New York

Eight years passed by. Kyle unsuccessfully contacted dozens of other Type 2 owners, and he even bought a similar van. But it just wasn’t the same. He needed the real thing!

Meanwhile, in Oakland, California, Cris Mead was busy getting his recently deceased father’s affairs in order. While going through some old things, Cris opened up a book and a crumpled note slid out.

ABC RN/Jeremy Story Carter

It was the same note that Kyle had written eight years ago on Rockaway Beach! Cris figured that his dad, Cornelius Mead, must have found it inside his van, placed it inside the book, and forgotten about it.

So what was Cris to do? The minibus was his father’s prize possession, something that he probably loved as much as his children. He was so attached to it that he even named it Matilda.

He and Matilda went on adventures and drove across the country many times over. Cornelius spent more nights than he could count sleeping in the back of the minibus.

Cornelius put so many miles on Matilda that the odometer ran out of digits to track its progress. Now that’s a lot of zeroes!

Fortunately, Cornelius put a lot of money into the vehicle to keep it in decent shape. The engine and transmission still worked like a charm. The van deserved to hit the road again.

Cris, who had no use for the Volkswagen, found a potential buyer with this note. But would Kyle still want the van after all these years? Would he even have the same phone number?

Cris managed to reach Kyle, who was floored by his dream car finally becoming available. Cris figured with the right buyer, it could fetch up $1,500. However, Kyle worked as a teacher and had limited funds. Would they be able to strike a deal?

They did because Cris gave Kyle the minibus for free! He figured that the best way to honor his dad was to pass on Matilda to someone who would value the van as much as Cornelius did.

Kyle felt overjoyed and said that only fate could have brought the Volkswagen back to him after all that time. He celebrated his new ride by decking it out with a fresh coat of paint.

Matilda is the perfect ride for Kyle, as he’s able to transport all his friends and their gear on surf outings. Plus, they are definitely riding in style.

Flickr / allisonhasabox

Kyle still keeps in touch with Cris about the minibus’ travels. Touched by this generosity, he also hopes to pay forward that same type of kindness someday.

He knows better than anyone that there’s nothing like getting behind the wheel of your dream car to put a big smile on your face! Especially when you have no idea it’s coming.

YouTube / Charlie Rockey Jabaley