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Pals’ ‘tank’ car is bangered to rights
Matthew Antoszkiw, Daniel Lenczewski and Ryan Gill whose customised ‘tank’ car was taken off the road by German police
Three Bradford friends’ bid to win a banger rally with a car disguised as tank landed them in a German police cell.
The 26-year-olds had spent £500 on a R-registered Ford Galazy, disguised it with camouflage paint, plywood for the turrett and an old drainpipe for the gun – then hit the road for a jaunt competing in the 2013 Motoscope Rally from Saint Omer in France to Prague.
But the lads’ dreams of winning first prize were dashed when their mock military motor was stopped by German motorway police who impounded it and locked the trio up for almost two hours while taking the ‘tank’ off for a road safety inspection of their own – which it subsequently failed.
“German MOTs are much stricter than ours. They said the brakes were dodgy and it had too much rust but it had got through its MOT in the UK and was properly insured,” said driver Matthew Antoszkiw, of Queensbury, who works as a graphic designer.
“We think they just didn’t like a British car driving through their country looking like a tank – they were gunning for us.”
Police told them it would cost 4,000 euros to get the car roadworthy.
Mr Antoszkiw said: “It had been a smooth ride until we got to Germany. We’d had no problems at the ferry port or through passport control in France.
“The tank hadn’t offended anyone. We don’t think it was insensitive at all – in fact we won a £50 prize for ‘best-dressed banger’ which we'll be giving to Help For Heroes.” Mr Antoszkiw, who was with his pals Ryan Gill and Daniel Lenczewski – all former pupils of St Bede’s School,
Heaton, said: “We knew as soon as we saw the police car pull out of a sliproad and start following us we were in trouble, it was that inevitable feeling of doom. They were very rude, whistling at us to get out the car then said they might crush it. It was pretty clear they didn't like it.”
A spokesman for Darmstadt police in Hessen said the vehicle was spotted by officers on the A672 road because it was “a bizarre conversion”.
He said: “When checking the car, officials found serious flaws in the brake system and rusted wishbone. The rally was therefore terminated prematurely for the young men.”
With their hopes of claiming first prize dashed and no chance of forking out enough euros to get the car back on the road, the men were released and walked away from the police station to make their own way home. Mr Antoszkiw said: “We were just left with no car, no hotel, no taxi number to make our own arrangements.
“Luckily we managed to get flights home the next day but it meant we lost money on the hotel in Prague and flights back from there that we’d already paid for. We’re about £3,000 out of pocket and feeling pretty bitter about it – although in time we’ll probably laugh about it.”
As for next year, Mr Antoszkiw said: “The rally organisers have given us a free pass to enter next year.
“If we do, we won’t be going through Germany again – there's nothing much to see anyway.”