Check out this local New Jersey stolen/recovered GNX article

CopperNick

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The fact that it managed to survive intact in a Jersey impound yard and no one ever came over the fence and turned it into a shell is amazing all by itself. At least it got time off for good behaviour!


Nick
 

CopperNick

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Still can’t see the article. Stupid Nj.com wants you to subscribe to their crap site.
What I said. As for incognito, I did try that and got about as far as the picture and the caption, and then along came a whole bunch of links and an invite to join the Joisey.com. As I have a hard time with North American English, never mind what gets used in the regions, I gave the invite a hard pass.



Nick
 
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08Malibu

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What I said. As for incognito, I did try that and got about as far as the picture and the caption, and then along came a whole bunch of links and an invite to join the Joisey.com. As I have a hard time with North American English, never mind what gets used in the regions, I gave the invite a hard pass.



Nick
I live in NJ and won’t deal with that crap. If they want to put news stories behind a wall, I don’t need to read them.
 
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Built6spdMCSS

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As I have a hard time with North American English, never mind what gets used in the regions, I gave the invite a hard pass.



Nick

Avoid anything related to New Jersey just for good measure.. ;)
 
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86LK

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Stolen, super rare ‘Darth Vader car’ resurrected from N.J. impound lot after 12 years​


Stolen Buick returns

This 1987 Buick Regal GNX, stolen in 2012, was reunited with its owner after a lengthy search and legal fight.

The boxy black Buick came off the Irvington impound lot Wednesday covered in dust, as if it spent its lost 12 years among the other junkers on a distant desert planet.

This was no ordinary specimen. It was a 1987 Regal GNX, a rare muscle car so striking and severe it was dubbed “Darth Vader’s car” in its heyday.

And this one has seen the dark side.

Swiped from out front a Belleville restaurant in 2012, it fell in with the wrong crowd and was among a dozen high-end cars seized in a Newark drug and gambling operation bust in 2019, court documents show.

It spent the next few years in police custody while its owner, Latchman Raghunandan, hired a private investigator to find it. In January, a state Superior Court judge ruled the Buick was his, the New Jersey Law Journal reported this week.

They were finally reunited at the Irvington impound.

“It’s just like a perfect storm of circumstances,” Raghunandan’s attorney, Catherine P. Kelly, told NJ Advance Media in an interview.

What took so long?

Essex County law enforcement officials claimed the car belonged to them after seizing it in 2019′s “Operation Short Storm” along with $1.1 million in drugs, weapons and luxury watches — moving in court to obtain it under a practice known as civil asset forfeiture.

An accused drug dealer, Angel Tirado, insisted it was his, one of six Buick Grand Nationals he’d owned over the years. He fought the forfeiture in court, creating a three-way tug of war over the vehicle. In 2021, a judge ruled it belonged to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office by default.

But Raghunandan wasn’t letting up. He loved that car, his lawyer said, and planned to give it to his son someday.

“You know, this car is so rare, and the plaintiff is such a car enthusiast and it meant so much to him, that he was motivated to pursue the case,” she said.


Missing Buick

A missing poster shows the Buick GNX in its prime.Court records

Like its “Star Wars” namesake, the 1987 Buick Regal GNX has a cult following.

They only made 547 of these bad boys, a collaboration between Buick and McLaren Performance Technologies that took Buick’s Grand National model, souped it up and turbocharged it into “the apex in the lineup,” according to the American Muscle Car Museum.

The result, which could go zero to 60 in five seconds and was said to take a quarter mile faster than a Chevy Corvette, became an instant collector’s item that has only gotten more valuable over time.

They can fetch $150,000 or more at auctions. Vin Diesel drove one for a scene in one of the “Fast and Furious” films, our nation’s cultural arbiter for which cars are cool.

So after the private investigator tracked the vehicle to an Irvington impound lot in 2020, Raghunandan lawyered up and set out to spring his prized Buick from car jail.

The fact that fewer than 600 such cars exist made the job a little easier, but it still required wading through a morass of red tape, court records show.

At first, Kelly said, they couldn’t even get the impound lot or the Irvington police to acknowledge they had a Regal GNX at all. Then, police said they did have one, but would not allow anyone to come see it, the records show.

Meanwhile, if Raghunandan couldn’t prove the vehicle was his, Essex County authorities could take it from Tirado and auction it off.

“Operation Short Storm” was a sweeping 2019 takedown of a statewide drug ring centered around a Newark social club that led to charges against 46 people. The 1987 Buick Regal GNX — found in a garage by police, along with two Mercedes Benz 550 sedans and other luxury vehicles — became seized property.

Civil asset forfeiture can mean big money for local governments, padding budgets and funding community programs and equipment upgrades for cops. And authorities almost always win such cases, studies have found, because the vast majority go unchallenged.

If you’ve ever met a genuine Car Guy, however, you probably noticed two things: They love to tell you everything they did to the car, and they keep meticulous records.

“The car that was in the Irvington impound lot had all the same upgrades that my client’s car had,” Kelly said.

So they set out to prove it.

There was one immediate problem: The vehicle identification number, or VIN, for Raghunandan’s Buick didn’t match the one in Irvington. But a mechanic testified the car showed signs of tampering, including oddly spaced VIN numbers and a scratched-off serial number.

The aftermarket upgrades also looked familiar.

Raghunandan said in a sworn statement he bought the vehicle in 2002 from another car buff who had replaced the air intake system, put an Alpine radio head in the dashboard and installed a custom speaker bearing the logo of a store called Krank It Up, which has only one location in Massachusetts, in the trunk.

The seized Buick had all those, too. Out of the 547 cars Buick and McLaren made, was it possible two shared a few aftermarket features?

Tirado claimed in his own sworn statement that he bought the car in 2012, but he had difficulty presenting documents proving ownership, claiming they’d been seized by the cops.

Further, he claimed it wasn’t even a genuine 1987 Buick Regal GNX they were arguing over, but a more common Grand National model he tricked out to look like its rarer sibling.

“I went into the extreme smallest detail in cloning my car to appear as the ‘Real Deal,’” Tirado wrote in longhand from East Jersey State Prison, where he’s serving seven years on theft and weapons charges.

Eventually, a judge allowed Raghunandan’s mechanic to inspect the vehicle, issuing a 19-page report that concluded this was the same Buick he’d worked on before it was stolen. While the VINs didn’t match, the mechanic wrote that the number on the car matched another Buick Regal GNX that had been reported a “total loss” due to fire and rollover damage.

Then there were Raghunandan’s car keys, which he’d kept all these years. At the inspection, his set didn’t work on the ignition, which may have been switched out, but it opened the Buick’s doors, trunk and glove compartment.

On January 29 — more than three years into the court fight and more than a dozen since it was stolen — Judge Jeffrey B. Beacham found the evidence showed Raghunandan was the Buick’s “lawful owner.”

He ordered it returned.

Kelly, the car owner’s attorney, credited her client’s obsession with his vehicle, some creative sleuthing and a little luck.

“Most stolen cars, if they’re found they’re just destroyed,” she said. “The fact that it was found so many years later, it was still intact, it was still able to be identified, is incredible.”

“And the fact there’re only 547 made in the whole world, and this one is found seven miles from where it was stolen,” Kelly said.
 
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69hurstolds

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They didn't bother checking the VIN derivatives on the frame and transmission and block to verify original VIN? Idiots. Maybe that's what the mechanic did. Doesn't really say. EIther way, that'd been a whole lot more the way to go.
 
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Clone TIE Pilot

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If the GNX wasn't so old the cops probably would have turned it into a show squad car for events. Its pretty common for cops to do that to high end cars seized from drug dealers. Civil asset forfeiture is well abused by govt coruption.
 
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Clone TIE Pilot

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They didn't bother checking the VIN derivatives on the frame and transmission and block to verify original VIN? Idiots. Maybe that's what the mechanic did. Doesn't really say. EIther way, that'd been a whole lot more the way to go.
Likely the cops didn't want to check and lose their money. They count on most people not being able to afford to challenge them in court, north NJ is super corrupt. Everything a police department seizes through civil asset forfeiture they get to keep the proceeds which is why they likely won't check VINs that well as it could hurt their profit.
 
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