The splash page opens with the Doctor Doom driving a flying hot-rod, pursued by the Human Torch who is asking "Doom, Where's My Car?!"
Nope, I can't imagine how this one came about either. I guess we'll both just have to read the story and find out!
Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm are scrounging around in the basement of the Baxter Building when they stumble across an old two-seater classic roadster. Ben identifies it as Reed's beloved car from his college days. Johnny just HAS to have it. He asks Reed for permission, and gets an absent-minded approval.
Johnny restores the car. In the process he notices some high-tech modifications have been made, but he just "works around those". When Reed sees the finished car, he is surprised, he didn't really know what he had agreed to. He tries to warn Johnny about the car's history, but Johnny is so insistent that Reed gives up in frustration and let's the Human Torch do whatever he wants.
Shortly afterwards, the car proves its unusual worth in a battle against the Rhino and the Sandman. The card demonstrates force fields, exceptional speed, and the ability to fly. Combined with Johnny's talented driving skills, the car runs over the bad guys, performing a double KO.
The new hot-rodded Flame-Mobile is the toast of the town. Spider-Man appears in a single (large) panel cameo bemoaning the fact that everybody hated his Spider-Buggy, but they love Johnny's new wheels. Unfortunately, it's not only the FF's adoring public which have taken an interest in the car. Deep in the heart of a tiny European kingdom, a be-mustached creator has discovered that the long-lost vehicle has been re-activated, and sends his android to recover it.
The robot steals the car from under Johnny's nose. Johnny gives chase, but can't catch up with the high-powered flying vehicle. He did, however, see the face of the thief... and it was the Face of Doom! Doctor Doom!
Reed Richards then tells Johnny the rest of the story which the Torch had not been interested in hearing earlier. As a student, Reed purchased the car from Victor Von Doom. No prizes for guessing where the car has been taken. The Fantastic Four hop in a Fantasticar and head to Latveria...
...where it is the birthday of that kingdom's great and much beloved ruler! As is customary, all the inventors and toymakers of the kingdom are presenting their extravagant gifts to their all-powerful monarch. A tank-bot, a large enemy-smashing gorilla robot, a robot that reads stories to children (though it's also big enough to smash enemies, the creator admits).
The Fantastic Four are hidden behind the curtains, observing the presentation, when suddenly their cover is blown. Thinking quickly, Reed Richards pretends to be another Latverian inventor with a gift for Doom. This deception is assisted by the fact that Reed is wearing native clothing, including an alpine hat and lederhosen. That convenient set of circumstances isn't particularly well explained, but we'll let it pass.
Anyhow, Reed pretends to have created life-sized models of The Thing and Human Torch (Sue herself remains invisible, though why she didn't simply make them all invisible earlier I don't quite know). Doom is fooled by the deception.
Then the mustached man we saw earlier presents his gift... the roadster, restored to a classic British Racing Green color. Having discovered Doom's old car, he used an old Doombot to recover it and now presents it as a gift to its long lost owner, Doctor Doom! Doom is delighted. The Fantastic Four realize that there was no real threat in the theft, and Reed suggests they quietly depart.
Johnny Storm, however, is not satisfied. He flames on and flies into battle, demanding the return of his car! Reed and Victor argue over the legal ownership, Reed insisting he traded Victor an anti-matter regulator for the vehicle, but Reed insisting it is now his since he received it as a birthday gift.
The Thing gets totally fed up by this, and trashes the car.
Both Johnny and Doom are pretty peeved. But when Doom gets mad, it's time to leave the party. The Fantastic Four flee in their Fantasticar. End of story.
This is inspired silliness. Jeff Parker has created a story which oozes with charm. With several nods to Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, this tale is warm-hearted entertainment of the highest order.
I'll give this one a highly-entertaining four webs. But I still want to know what Reed was doing in lederhosen.