Cortina Crime Wave: Are Banger Racers to Blame?

The chances are that if you own a Ford Cortina, you may not for much longer. Anyone who has kept their ear against the wall to the ramblings of the internet may have noticed Cortinas are disappearing quicker than a puddle in the desert.

Just as sure as the day is followed by the night, the classic car scene has pointed the finger at the banger racing community. Members of this community are also guaranteed to plead their innocence, albeit in stereotypically poor grammar; one must not simply tar the “majority” with the same brush.

Hold judgement for just a second and let’s consider the facts. Firstly, a large number of Cortinas have been lifted from loyal owners in the last few months, with the majority around the South East of England. But why could this mean that banger racers have been slipping their fingers into classic Ford owners’ pockets though?

Classic car enthusiasts on one popular site immediately noticed a worrying link between this community and the thefts, in the form of a link to an upcoming banger rally. Entitled “All Cortina Meeting“, the banger racing community will unite on June 5th 2016 for, you guessed it, an all Ford Cortina smash-em-up fest. Motives for crashing classic cars aside, this makes for worrying reading for all Ford fans.


Image: A screenshot of the event on


Before we all jump on a certain bandwagon, we must first consider both sides of the argument. The meet is scheduled to commence this June, located in Essex. Most of the stolen Cortinas originate from owners around the South East, besides a couple of exceptions. As of 3rd January, 94 individual racers have sourced Cortinas, an increasingly rare commodity in the UK, during the precise time period of the sudden increase of thefts.

Banger racers have earned a sour reputation for thieving. Indeed cases have been proven, but none at this stage linking to the Cortinas in question. Regardless, many will accuse and some will object.

Despite questionable taste, the vast majority of these 94 entrants most likely acquired their Cortina legitimately. However the odds are not stacked in favour of the community as a whole.

What should be done?

Organisers and legitimate enthusiasts alike must seek to expose the “bad apples” amongst their community. They must work together with the Police and classic car enthusiasts to ensure that banger racing is free from thieving scum bags. Should we all choose to abide by these rules, we all seek to benefit. Banger racers get to engage in their hobby, classic car enthusiasts can sleep more soundly at night and the Police needn’t spend as much in time and resources to solve problems. If you have nothing to hide, there will surely be no reason to object.

Spread the word via social media (#Cortina), turn in known culprits and vet vehicles thoroughly at June’s meet. In the mean time, hide your Cortinas!


A Selection of Stolen Cortinas:

  1. 20/05/2015 – XPO842G stolen from Selby, Yorkshire.
  2. 09/09/2015 – BDG986Y stolen from Weymouth, Dorset.
  3. 06/12/2015 – MKN841W estate stolen from West Norwood, South East London.
  4. 02/01/2016 – LVB173K stolen from Chatham, Kent.
  5. 02/01/2016 – XPK871Y stolen from Chatham, Kent.
  6. 05/01/2016 – HCR296L stolen from Camberwell, South London.
  7. 10/01/2016 – OSF722P stolen from Chatham, Kent.

Image: A compilation of some of the stolen Cortinas, sourced from Retrorides.


by Mike Armstrong


14 thoughts on “Cortina Crime Wave: Are Banger Racers to Blame?”

    1. Not all banger racers are ‘thieving pikey vermin.’ In fact, most banger racers (and indeed banger racing fans) are hard-working, tax- paying individuals, who enjoy the adrenaline rush of good, competitive racing in an affordable family Motorsport environment. Such appalling stereotyping is what makes this country a sad, sad place to be at times. I am a banger racer and a primary school teacher – an exception to your ‘thieving pikey’ analysis. The banger and stock car racing community is one that is based on mutual respect and is heavily family orientated. I sense that perhaps you have never actually attended a banger racing event and would suggest that you take the time to do so before making such offensive and drastic assumptions! Much love!


      1. You may not be a thief yourself but you are participating in an activity that encourages the theft of classic cars and that makes you guilty by association. I certainly wouldn’t pay to support this activity. I agree it should be banned.


      2. Your proclamation that banger racing ‘encourages’ theft is not only highly offensive to hard-working, honest racers like myself, it is also massively unfounded! I myself purchase the cars I use for racing from selling sites, such as eBay or Gumtree, as well as using Facebook to share any cars that are for sale in the local area – I know most other racers obtain their cars in this way too. We buy cars that the previous owners had intended for go for scrap and we therefore use the cars for racing, before taking them to the scrap metal merchants ourselves. I certainly do not know any banger drivers that obtain vehicles through theft and your assertion that banger racing encourages theft is entirely based on one or two individuals who spoil the general name of the sport. Dishonest behaviour (in small minorities) exists in any sport, yet such sports are not tarred with such a hateful and close-minded opinion as that of many of the contributors on this comment section. I would suggest that each of you actually attend a banger racing meeting. Have a conversation with the race fans and the drivers themselves. They are not hill-billys, thieves or toothless idiots. They are, in fact, friendly, approachable and incredibly passionate individuals, who would love to tell you more about the sport they love. Since I am almost certain that none of you have ever actually attended a banger racing event, I would highly recommend that you do before spouting such narrow-minded and misinformed rubbish on sites such as this.


      3. So fine, the sudden recent disappearance of (how many now, sometimes 2 at a time) Cortina’s is purely coincidence. The sport is completely blame free (apart from the admitted one or two, who must be very busy) and all the nudge nudge wink wink comments on banger forums is just gentle jest, or perhaps some/many have less faith in their own sport or just didn’t get your memo. Anyway case closed, we’re obviously looking for someone from the concourse committee of the Cortina Club.


  1. I had my Sierra Laser G132 TND, stolen from Chattenden, Rochester in November. It had 40.000 miles and was immaculate. It must have been stolen to order, as where I live is secluded. I’m absolutely gutted. I had waited for years to get one and some theiving scum has taken it just before Christmas. What gives these social scum the right to take something that I have worked hard for. Police didn’t even seem bothered as its probably not important to them.


    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your Sierra Scot. I can’t imagine the pain this has caused you. No one deserves to have their car, let alone a car as special to them as yours, taken away from them. I really hope it turns up safe and sound and the thief has their hands cut off and shoved up their…. I have no idea if it would be linked to bangers at all, but it definitely sounds stolen to order. The sooner we get the police to stamp down on vehicle crime the better for everyone.


  2. Why don’t the police do what they did at brands hatch one year let them all in then shut the gates so no one could get out then check all vin numbers thay did it to the bikers so do it to car racers.


  3. There are references on Facebook from the members of the banger community that the “usual suspects” are probably behind this, so they likely know who is responsible. There are also posts sharing photos and locations of Cortina spotted at the roadside. They really need to get their house in order. Pleading it’s the small minority and unfair to tar all with the same brush doesn’t wash when the perpetrators can obviously flaunt their crimes. If a pensioner or disabled person had been robbed for the cash equivalent (and cash has no sentimental value) would they be so reluctant to do the right thing. Shameful.


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