Skip to main content

A night at the movies in Oregon in 1991 has become a modern-day mystery. How did a classic 1979 Porsche 924, reported missing almost three decades earlier, wind up overturned in a valley in 2017? It’s a Porsche mystery that may never be solved. 

A stolen car that vanished

1979 Porsche 924 Turbo cars at the manufacturer's plant in Weissach, Germany
1979 Porsche 924 Turbo cars in Germany | Daniel Simon/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The story began in 1991, when a silver 1979 Porsche 924 was stolen in Medford, Oregon. Parked in a movie theater parking lot, the Porsche vanished without a trace into the night. For nearly three decades, there was no sign of the vehicle. 

Then, in 2017, a man was walking his dog in the woods on Abbott Prairie Road in Trail, Oregon, when he discovered the car. At the bottom of a steep embankment, its remains lay almost impossible to see from the road. The man called 911, worried about the possibility of a gruesome discovery.

No sign of the Porsche 924 thief

As it turned out, the thief had disappeared as mysteriously as the car. Detectives conducted a thorough search and found no human remains in the vehicle. Some bones nearby turned out to be from a deer. There was no sign of the thief who must have been driving the car. The registration in the glove box had expired in 1991, the year it was reported stolen. 

According to authorities, the bottom of the cliff might be the ’79 Porsche 924’s final resting place. Because of where it landed in the woods and the years of debris covering it, extricating it might be too much of a challenge. There’s no speculation on how the car got there or what became of the driver. 

A few mysteries remain. First, was the car pushed down the embankment, or did the driver somehow make a daring escape? Second, how is a car stolen 27 years ago, left to rot in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, not covered in moss and mildew in the damp environment? Was the car pushed over more recently? The public may never know. 

An overview of the 1979 Porsche 924

The 924 marked many changes in Porsche’s design. When it debuted in 1976, it was the car to pack a liquid-cooled front engine. The 125-hp motor had an in-line cylinder arrangement borrowed from the Audi 100. It also featured a new transaxle principle and was the first Porsche on the market with a fully automatic transmission. 

The 1979 Porsche 924 emphasized aerodynamics, with a flat hood and pop-up headlights. It was developed by Porsche for Volkswagen and built by Audi as the successor to the 914. The entry-level vehicle was a two-door coupe with two seats in the back. Porsche produced it from 1976 through 1988 and then discontinued it in favor of the 944.  

Do people ever get stolen cars back?

Police did not disclose if they located the owner of the 1979 Porsche 924 after the car’s discovery. According to Statista, the chances of getting a stolen car back are low. In fact, only one in five stolen cars returns to the owner. The best chances of getting back a stolen vehicle are within the first 48 hours. Some, like the ’79 Porsche 924 found almost 30 years later, take much longer. 


There’s a 1 in 5 Chance You’ll Get Your Car Back if it’s Stolen