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Rare Cizeta V16 sports car, worth $700,000, seized by federal agents in Orange County

December 7, 2009 |  5:34 pm

Fancy car

A  $700,000 Italian sports car that originally was brought into the United States in 2001 for maintenance was seized today in Orange County as part of a federal investigation into violations of environmental and transportation safety regulations.

Agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement found the 1994 Cizeta V16 sports car at the Family Classic Cars showroom in San Juan Capistrano, eight years after an agreement specified that the car would be sent back to where it came following repairs.

The car is one of fewer than a dozen such vehicles produced by automotive engineer Claudio Zampoli in a joint venture with music composer Giorgio Moroder, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

The government alleges that Zampoli and his agent violated U.S. customs and environmental laws, Kice said They allegedly claimed the vehicle was worth $125,000, even though the car originally sold new for approximately $600,000.

In addition, Zampoli and his representative failed to export the vehicle within a reasonable period of time, according to the allegation.

“Make no mistake, the illegal importation of gray market vehicles like this is not just a technical violation,” said Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge for the customs agency's Office of Investigations in Los Angeles. “Cars that don’t meet U.S. standards are outlawed for a reason.  These vehicles can pose a real threat to public health and safety.”

The car was loaded onto a flatbed truck and taken to a secure government storage facility, Kice said.

The Cizeta will remain in storage while authorities seek to have it forfeited to the federal government.   If the vehicle is forfeited, it will be offered for sale at a public auction.  Since the vehicle does not meet U.S. environmental and safety standards, any domestic buyer would have to export the car following its purchase.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: ICE