Reading my paper this weekend, I stumbled across an interesting (and rather disturbing) statistic. In the last 30 or so seconds you spent reading this, there has been a burglary in the UK. On top of that, robberies are on the rise too, having shot up a startling 11% since last summer. Reading these figures motivated me to do two things, first of all to install a new lock on my back door, and secondly, to compile a list of the six most infamous getaway cars throughout history, from the most common motors of choice to the notorious car which its perpetrators fled from their respective crimes from. So, without further ado, let's jump in!
Disclaimer: Dangerous high speed driving on public roads or initiating a police chase is irresponsible and puts lives at risk. Please drive with due care and attention and obey the rules of the road.
6. Ford Granada Mk 2 (1977-1985)
When the first generation Ford Granada was introduced in 1972, it was intended as a replacement to the ageing Zephyr, which had established a safe reputation as a white-collar office workers' car, popular with families and high-flying executives, and for the most part, the Mark 1 Granada stuck rigidly to that demographic. However, with the release of the Mark 2 Granada, it established a new, grimy reputation as being favoured by armed robbers and ram-raiders, who liked its large size and spacious interior, with the most notable offence carried out in one being the Shooters Hill armed robbery in 1987, where the robbers escaped in-and ultimately crashed- a 1983 model while attempting to escape.
5. Lincoln Continental (1970-1979)
For the fifth generation of their esteemed Continental model in 1970, Lincoln redesigned the car extensively, making it longer, more advanced (with the introduction of disc brakes), and introduced a more efficient (yet still huge) 400 cubic-inch V8 in California. But while the fourth generation Continental had been popular with heads of state and the upper crust, the fifth generation Continental instead found itself being a huge hit with mobsters, a particular admirer being Carlo Gambino, the boss of the ruthless Gambino crime family, who was known to cruise around from robberies and hits in a black Continental with a registration plate reading "CG 1". Scary stuff.
4. Ford Model 40 (1934)
I couldn't make a list about the most famous getaway cars and not include the Ford Model 40- the car used by none other than Bonnie and Clyde, who rose to prominence as the most successful armed bandits during the Great Depression, known for their efficient robberies of banks, various shops and countless petrol stations. It was a stolen V8 Model 40 that the pair were driving through Bienville Parish, Louisiana when they were ambushed by a large and heavily armed police block opened fire, bringing an end to the lives and careers of the couple. The bullet-riddled Ford, after a long period of being cast aside, was put on display in Nevada in 2017.
3. Citroen Traction Avant (1934)
The Citroen Traction Avant has the uncommon distinction of being one of the only cars to be driven by not one, but two rather unfavourable groups. The French mafia along with the Gestapo in Occupied France were both known for frequenting large black models, but it was with the former that the Traction Avant became most notable, as the mafia used it mainly for pulling off bank jobs, as the model was well known for its independent suspension and hydraulic brakes, which made it a brilliant handler, and one that could easily outrun the gendarmes.
2. Jaguar Mark 2 (1959-1967)
This car came to embody the criminal classes in a way no other car has even ever tried to replicate since. Coventry's big cat was the car of choice for nearly every bank robber or burglar during the Sixties, due to its hefty engine with a power output of 220 bhp, space inside for five people and a 0-60 time of just over 8 seconds, which made it a hit with the constabulary too, who drafted in several Mark 2's to patrol the streets looking for trouble. However, while the Mark 2 may be a legend in its own right, it hasn't blagged the number one spot, as you'll see which motor did now..
1. Lotus Carlton (1990-1992)
Here it is then- the most infamous getaway car of all time. In late 1993, a model of Lotus' 377 hp super saloon was stolen in the West Midlands, with the soon to be legendary registration of 40RA. This particular Carlton would appear multiple times in the papers over the next few months of 1993 and 1994, mainly focusing their attacks on shops and off-licences late at night, with the thieves managing to steal over £20,000 of tobacco and alcohol, and they were leaving the boys in blue far behind, with police reports at the time stating: "We simply haven't been able to get near the thing and it looks unlikely that we ever will". To this day, the 40RA Carlton has never been recovered, yet it still dominates the conversation about getaway cars, and has cemented its reputation as one of the most infamous cars ever built.
And that's a wrap! Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it. Cheers, and I'll see you in the next article!