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Feebs sued for trashing Ferrari

2011-02-25 07:09

TOO FAST FOR THE FBI?: After one of its agents slid a Ferrari F50 into a tree, perhaps the FBI needs to improve its advanced driving instruction.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Ferrari
Model F50
Engine 4.7-litre V12
Power 382kW @ 8 500rpm
Torque 470Nm @ 6 500rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 3.7 sec
Top Speed 325km/h
Weight 1 320kg
Those heroes of many an American crime drama, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the US Department of Justice are facing a $750 000 liability claim because a Ferrari F50 in FBI care was severely damaged.

The story starts back in 2003, when said Ferrari was stolen from a dealership in Rosemont, Pennsylvania.

Having the specified insurance, the dealer made a claim and Michigan-based Motor Insurance Corporation paid out a settlement of $750 000 at the time.


Forward to August of 2008 and the FBI finally managed to trace this most rare of Ferraris in Kentucky. It's quite hard to sell a stolen F50 without the original paperwork - only 349 were made.

The F50 was kept in storage by the FBI as it was waiting to prosecute the thief responsible for stealing it back in 2003. Then things went awry...

In May 2009 the F50 was destroyed when it hit a tree with an FBI special agent at the helm.

Motor Insurance Corporation, which thought it would recover the car after the guy who stole it was prosecuted, did what insurers do and filed a claim against both the FBI and the US Department of Justice for the original cash sum of $750 000 it had paid in good faith to the Pennsylvania dealer back in 2003.

The FBI and the justice department each rejected the claim as the Ferrari was being detained by the FBI at the time of the incident as part of a criminal investigation.

The insurer had one last trump card to play; the Freedom of Information Act. Insurance investigators were at first denied outright by government bureaucrats a request under the act for documents relating to the storage, transport and handling protocol of the Ferrari.

One e-mail was allowed to be released though, which proved quite illuminating. It transpired that that US Assistant Attorney Hamilton Thompson rode with Special Agent Frederick Kingston on the day of the accident and that the F50 ‘fishtailed’ and slid sideways soon after leaving the FBI’s storage facility.


A description of ‘fishtailing’ on the internal e-mail would indicate a classic case of acceleration and then abrupt throttle lift-off, something the F50, with its 382kW, 4.7-litre V12, does not tolerate. No way.

The accident happened mere seconds after the F50 had left its place of storage, indicating a possible scenario where a full throttle launch (with copious amounts of steering lock applied turning out a warehouse facility on to a service road) would easily see the car slide wildly out of control.

Courtesy of its mid-engined configuration, the F50 is well known to snap into wild bouts of oversteer, even at relatively low speeds, when provoked by injudicious throttle input. A good example is when the F50 in Johann Rupert’s collection was crashed by his son, Anton, running down Helshoogte pass in Stellenbosch back in 2008.

However the F50 came to grief, Motors Insurance Corporation is on the paper trail and now suing both the US Department of Justice and the FBI to release all documents pertaining to the vehicle. It just goes to show: horsepower corrupts and absolute horsepower corrupts absolutely.

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