A Dallas man has found his beloved the classic cream-coloured British racing car after it was stolen 42 years ago.
The car, which was bought for $3000 and now is estimated up over $50,000, was stolen from a parking lot the morning after the couple’s second date.
It took Russell, a retired sales manager, years of surfing the web and eyeing similar Healeys on the road, reports The Daily Mail.
For the decades the man has believed that he would fing the vehicle, bought from his friend in 1968.
“The fact that the car [could still exist was] improbable,” Russell, 66, told reporters. “It could have been junked or wrecked.”
However, a dogged search over almost a half of century came up with a victory when Russell he finally found it through a listing on the popular online marketplace, for sale at a California car dealership.
“That was quite the knockdown-dragout. Ever since eBay showed up, I’d check it periodically,” Mr Russell said. “I checked it on Friday, May 11, and there it was.”
The happy man immediately called the dealer, the Beverly Hills Car Club, and sounded the alarm. “I hate to sound indelicate,” Mr Russell said to the unsuspecting dealer, “but you’re selling a stolen car.”
The last bid on the stolen car didn’t meet the reserve of $19.700, so the car was still for sale. Russell explained to the dealer that originally 1967 Austin Healey 3000 belonged to him.
However, the dealer assured the man that his beloved car was bought from a man who claimed it had been in his family since 1970, writes The New York Daily News.
“Well, the car was stolen in 1970, so you can draw your own conclusion,” Russell agreed. “They either stole it or bought it from the guy who stole it.”
The retired sales manager and the dealer checked the car and found out the the vehicle identification number matched that of the stolen car.
Besides, Russell saved the original key and car title and signed affidavits from friends, including the original owner, indicating that the man had never sold the auto but he didn’t have a copy of the stolen-car report he filed back in 1970.
“Well,” Russell said, “the car was stolen in 1970, so you can draw your own conclusion. They either stole it or bought it from the guy who stole it.”
It took Russell four weeks of haggling with the dealer to convince him to sell the car back for about $24,000, the newly owner of Austin Healey 3000 asked law enforcement agencies in Philadelphia and Los Angeles for help.
Russell also revealed his plans to restore the car, which he said is worth $20,000 to $30,000. “It still runs, but the brakes don’t work well,” he said. “We’re going to put it back the way it was.”
When the restoration’s finished, Russell predicts that The Austin “probably will be worth around $50,000.”
Cynthia Russell, Bob’s wife, credits her husband’s “dogged sleuthing and fantastic help from friends, family and law enforcement officers” for getting the car back where it belongs.
“It’s a bit of a relief,” Russell said. “Nothing’s ever linear – you’re up, you’re down, you’re being whipsawed back and forth, and suddenly it’s over.”