Skip to comments.Texas Man Finds Stolen Car 42 Years Later (1967 Austin-Healey on eBay)
Posted on 07/12/2012 2:57:31 AM PDT by Libloather
Texas Man Finds Stolen Car 42 Years Later
By ALON HARISH | Good Morning America 13 hrs ago
Bob Russell could not be blamed for losing hope that he would reunite with his 1967 Austin-Healey. Stolen outside his Philadelphia apartment 42 years ago, the British roadster seemed a lost cause.
But thanks to the Internet and some creative police work, Russell has his pride and joy back.
When Russell, then a graduate student at Temple University, returned home the morning after a date with his future wife, his car was nowhere to be found. For decades since, he searched for his beloved ride in vain. On a trip to Washington, D.C., he stared at a parked Austin-Healey for half an hour in hopes of finding a distinctive marking to no avail.
On a recent eBay session, though, his luck changed: the cream-colored car was listed for auction by a Los Angeles car dealer, with a final bid of $19,700. Russell, who now lives near Dallas, knew the car was his because its vehicle identification number (VIN) matched the one on the title he kept since the theft.
"I'm not trying to sound indelicate, but you're selling my car," Russell told the dealer.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Good for him. Somebody took it in the shorts for this, but maybe the police can track the car back and find the thief.
Based on the article, the cops would rather just eat their donuts.
I do believe that if you took an insurance claim for the theft, the car is not his, but rather the insurance companies. Isn’t that how it works?
Insurance was not compulsory then.
It still isn’t for theft coverage.
My question just has to do with the generality. I do believe that when insurance pays for something lost or stolen, they then have legal claim to it.
You are correct and I’m sure that is one of the first hurdles getting it impounded that was not reported on in the story. Wise of you to make the point in any regard.
Don’t mess with Texas. Good on him. I was in the gas station a couple of months ago with my grandson, filling up the tires on my 2001 Corolla when a guy pulled in to get air with a 1967 Austin-Healy. I showed it to my GS and the owner and I got to talking. His was over 45 years old and had 50,000 original miles, mine was 11 years old and had 150,000 original miles.
It would have been nice if the writer had told us how many miles were put on the car while it was missing.
It would also be fun to see how many people owned it. And who was the first guy to buy it after it was stolen and how the paper work was handled.
My '65 Mustang was stolen in '83 (I'd owned it since '79). Allstate paid me, IIRC, $2,500, a generous settlement at the time. If it were located, the insurance company is *supposed* to notify me and give me the chance to repurchase it from them. I'm sure that some cars end up recovered and auctioned without the previous owners' knowledge, though.
I recently found the old registration and VIN after years of thinking I'd discarded them. Yeah, I'm going to look into any subsequent registration of that VIN; you never can tell.
B might be in trouble with the law. Can E sue D?
in this case, at some point a fake title must have been created. Maybe there should be title insurance for classic cars.
Isn’t there a national or state-shared database of VIN numbers of stolen cars? And if someone tries to register a vehicle with that VIN number, the police and owner get notified? Well, maybe not 42 years ago....
Love the line: “I’m not trying to sound indelicate, but...”
The NYPD used to (may still) do one better. They sold my father's stolen Cadillac to a "dealers only" auction house in upstate NY BEFORE they notified him of its recovery. That notification came within days of Dad receiving a check from his ins. co. Since the impound was nearby, Dad went there immediately and was able to recover ALL the property that he had left in the car. The vehicle had sat in an NYPD impoundment for a month before that notification. Seems, according to NYPD, that they were unable to find the VIN on the car so they could trace it and notify the owner (my Dad). The windshield over the one on the dash was cracked making the VIN plate difficult to read. However, the dashboard VIN plate WAS intact.
Real reporters are extinct.
Great story and tagline.
In Mexico, they refer to cars with dubious origin and paperwork as “chocolate cars”.
Any idea why they use that term?
On another note, I recall a story from about ten years ago where a US cop went into Mexico to work with Mexican police on stolen car cases. He met the Mexican cop at the border, and was driven into Mexico in a new Jeep.
Along the way, the American cop became suspicious, and took down the VIN of the Mexican cop’s Jeep.
It was stolen in the US a few months prior.
Having worked down there for the past ten years, it appears to be a way of life down there. I carry an extra couple $20 bills, just in case.
Austin Healey 3000s (also known as "Big Healeys") are great British collecting cars. They have also gone through the roof in price these past few years (although the Obama Depression has brought a drop in prices the last couple of years).
So a Philly street thug stole this car in 1970, and he got it back. Praise Christ. God has a way of remembering.
What is amazing is that this article says that the California dealer wanted to sell him the car at their reserve of $24,000.
BTW - if any Freeper here has an Austin Healey 3000 they would like to donate to me, I would be eternally grateful.
I just think of questions I would ask the guy about this unusual story. Then I imagine that my readers might be interested, as well. I put them in the article.
The missing link here is - these people have no curiosity and therefore few questions to ask.
Had 3 “Big Healeys” in my time. Two ‘60s, one ‘61.
The first one was a complete cosmetic teardown restoration.
The second, I bought in boxes...and sold in the same boxes.
The third, I just drove the heck out of it.
None ever cost or sold for over $2500. But now? Let’s just say, I wish I still had all three. Would’ve been a great retirement plan.
Good for this guy for getting his back.
I bought one a ‘61 back in ‘72, in Calif. for $1800.00.
I did a complete motor/trans overhaul, new paint, renewed wire wheels, and interior. I was a sweet ride, until a runaway forklift rolled down a LA hill and punched a hole in the drivers door and wheel well impacting the twin carbs, and cyl head.
Ins Co gave me $2500, which I used to get it back in shape.
Sold it in Houston TX in 1980 for $9500.
Which I still had it ( It was BRG with a Tan Interior BTW)
Which = Wish.. DUH!
” punched a hole in the drivers door and wheel well impacting the twin carbs, and cyl head.”
Worse still, I watched it all happen from my office window!!!!
Photo 2: Stuggling with the crashbox?
I think the missing link is that they are too lazy to investigate.
lol..i like this guy
“Chocolate cars”? First time I’ve heard it. Idiomatic expression. Direct translation would result in confusion. Example: “A dirty old man” who chases after young girls, said in Spanish would be “viejo verde” (green old man). We use the term “grey market” (questionable) vehicles to denote any vehicle brought into the U.S. by anybody other than the manufacturer.
Exactly. I’ve asked my Mexican counterparts to explain, and they’ve confirmed that “chocolate” refers to the candy and isn’t some misundersanding or interpretation diffuculty. However, they’ve been unable to explain either the origin or the etymological reference to actual chocolate.
Love that house.
“It appears that if A owns X and B steals it and sells it to C who sells it to D who sells it to E, at which point the police recover it, E is out of luck.
B might be in trouble with the law. Can E sue D?
in this case, at some point a fake title must have been created. Maybe there should be title insurance for classic cars.”
Yeah E can sue D and then D could sue C and on and on, assuming they can even find them and then manage to get papers served and then manage to get a judgment that they will probably never be able to collect...
And B could potentially be facing theft charges and everyone else could potentially be facing receiving stolen goods charges. But the likelyhood of any of that is about the same as the likelyhood of actually collecting on a judgement.
I think the collector car registries are the primary way of dealing with title issues. If the car you are buying is listed in the registry for that model and if it has a complete ownership history then you’re about as safe as it’s possible to get.
OTOH, If you’re buying an unregistered expensive collector car out of someone’s garage, then you really should have a formal written contract that the sale is contingent on a complete ownership history coming back clean and that the car and money will be held in escrow until that point. Then if the check comes back clean, apply to have that car added to the registry ASAP, so that it’ll be a lot easier for you to sell in the future.
I’ll take bets that after that guy was able to get the car “re-entered” into the stolen car database, he’ll now never be able to get it removed.
So now, every time he takes the car out for a drive he’ll be risking getting arrested for operating a stolen vehicle and he’ll have massive problems selling the car because it’ll keep coming up as stolen.
[Is my pessimistic streak showing?]
I wish I had them as well. But then again, I remember a weird stoner of a kid down the road selling a 1971 Hemi Cuda for next to nothing also.
The great thing about the 3000 is that it has the engine to be a true highway cruiser, and it also has room to put a human being in the back seat if you wish - although it is a tight fit. They are just fantastic cars. Hard to believe that when they were for sale they were almost priced about the same as an MGB.
The electric overdrive took just enough of the strain off to make them great highway machines. Of course they leaked like a sieve when it rained...part of the charm.
Nope. On the later models the tranny was fully synchronized.