Ostensibly billed as visual and environmental pollution, most abandoned cars are quickly removed by local governments and sent to the nearest scrap yard. Generally speaking, upscale towns are far less tolerant of derelict vehicles because they have a certain image to preserve for the sake of their residents or of their tourism industry.
With this in mind, we were surprised when we got word that about five abandoned cars were stashed away in a disaffected quarry located deep in one of the most upscale neighborhoods of a posh, gaudy town a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean Sea. A little skeptical, we entered the address in our GPS and obliged as it asked us to meander through million-dollar homes and nicely-kept yards.
“Your destination is on the right.” Like hell it is, that’s a park where people take their kids and dogs.
Intrigued, we walked to the edge of the small park, instinctively looked over a cliff and quickly realized we’d come to the right place when we saw the remains of a Volkswagen Beetle.
A walk down to the quarry revealed we were looking at an early 1970s standard Beetle that had been stripped of all mechanical components, trim bits and most of its interior. Local residents had apparently made a game out of throwing stones at it from the top of the cliff so it was heavily dented. As expected, the ID plate and the license plates had all been removed.
We found a trunk lid from a Citroen GS next to the Beetle and stumbled upon the rest of the car a few seconds later. Like the Beetle, it had been fully stripped save for the rear bumper and it was upside down, making it not terribly photogenic.
The scavenger hunt continued when we pulled out half of a Renault 4 rear door that was wedged under the GS and noticed a crumpled hood with a 1978-issue registration number painted below where the grille once was. We found the 4 – or what was left of it – walking back towards the Beetle. It was even less photogenic than the GS because it had been set on fire and was buried under branches thrown from the top of the cliff.
A walk beyond the Beetle revealed a very rare car, one you’re lucky to see once a year in the wild and once in a lifetime in situations like this: A Matra Bagheera. It took a fair bit of automotive archaeology to identify the car at first because it had been set on fire and was upside down, but the remains of the A-shaped steering wheel were a dead giveaway.
We carried on our walk through the quarry and found miscellaneous bits and pieces of cars such as rims and bumpers but found nothing of real interest until we saw two forklifts in the distance. We’re relatively used to finding stripped and stolen cars but forklifts are a first. How they got to the position they’re in is a mystery as they’re too far from the cliff to have been dropped that way. They’re still relatively complete – there is admittedly not much to strip from a forklift – and a look at their ID plates reveals both models are English-built Bonser 4Ts from the 1960s.
The forklifts were the last vehicles in the quarry but the place is littered with scrap metal ranging from Citroën 2CV rims to, oddly enough, industrial ovens.
Below the quarry is a small private harbor and above it is the aforementioned affluent neighborhood where the deep-pocketed and the image-conscious strut their stuff. How these cars and the mountains of metal have survived untouched in this environment for years is a real head-scratcher.