Car thieves in Melbourne attempting to steal a Brabham BT21 race car met their match; a manual transmission. The vintage Formula car was set to compete at the Phillip Island Classic this past weekend, but the bad guys had other plans. The car was stolen from the owner Peter William’s home in suburban Toorak some time between last Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Car Expert hypothesizes that the theft was planned by organized criminals, who may have hired youths to commit the crime (knowing they wouldn’t be charged as adults if caught). While the theory is unproven, the fact that the race car was found abandoned a few blocks away, with a burned out clutch, suggests the car thieves did not know how to drive an H-pattern manual gearbox.

You read that right. They tried to drive the car away in the dark of night. On public roads. It’s like a scene right out of Stallone’s 2001 masterpiece Driven.

Australian police are asking for the public’s help on this one. If any witnesses saw a green, 1966 Formula 3 car being driven erratically on public roads recently, they’re asked to contact the authorities with a description. Of the 110 Brabham BT21s ever built, only 6 are left, making them some of the most valuable and rare open-wheel race cars from the golden age of racing.

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