Now that Johnsen knew exactly how many 928s were used for the film, he set out to track down the “primary driver,” the 1981 automatic car — with VIN number in hand. After a total of eight rejection letters from the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles and countless unsuccessful internet searches — including Carfax — he tried another, albeit extreme, avenue. He hired a private investigator.
The PI learned that the primary 1981 automatic driver, #WP0JA0921BS820312, had indeed been sold to an unknowing foreign buyer. It had been shipped out of the country in 1984, as Johnsen had initially speculated. Since finding the ’81 “primary driver” was no longer plausible, Johnsen’s only other option was to find car number two — the 1979 five-speed “fill car,” #9289201213. The four other RB 928s may be forever lost, because the ’81 “primary driver” and ’79 “fill car” are the only 928s for which there are VIN numbers in the production records.
Through the use of his private investigator, Johnsen obtained the phone number of the then-present owner of the five-speed “fill car” — which was now painted white and living in Cathedral City, Califor-nia. Remembers Johnsen: “I ended up making several calls to him and, in the process, I came to realize that he actually wanted to sell the car. He owned several other project cars and had grown tired of the 928!” The owner said he had purchased it three years earlier from someone who had had it in storage in California for twelve years. That made sense, as the car was shipped back to California after production commenced.
“I was still skeptical, though,” recalls Johnsen. “I didn’t want to buy a car and find out it wasn’t the one I was looking for.” After a few phone conversations, John-sen felt sure it was the real car and negotiated the purchase. “I paid fair market value for the car and had it shipped to Colorado sight unseen, other than the few pictures he had sent prior.” When John-sen got it home, he began scraping back a few small areas of paint, searching for the confirming gold paint. “I eventually found what I was looking for on the front grill and right front fender. There were traces of gold under that white paint, both literally and figuratively speaking. I slept well that night. A long, hard part of my journey was now complete.” That said, something was nagging at Johnsen, something only a phone call would fix.
“After I had the title transferred to my name, I called the guy I bought it from to relieve some guilt I had and told him the truth about the whole thing,” admits Johnsen. “Surprisingly, he thought the whole thing was pretty cool and looked forward to reading about it in the magazines. He seemed happy to have gotten rid of it — regardless of its history.” That was probably because the no longer lost Risky Business 928 could hardly be called pristine, after 102,000 miles and multiple paint jobs. Its fuel tank was leaking and it was obvious that its bodywork would need some attention.