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Dogged Dallas-Man Finds Stolen Car, 42 Years Later

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On: Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 1:39PM | By: Chris Salamone


Dogged Dallas-Man Finds Stolen Car, 42 Years Later

This one’s for the record books. After almost 42 years of grim pursuit, Dallas resident Robert Russell finally located his stolen 1967 Austin Healey 3000 – which was originally taken from his Philadelphia apartment in 1970. And, most humorously, Russell actually spotted the car on an eBay auction.

“Ever since eBay showed up, I’d check it periodically,” Russell said to The Dallas Morning News. “I checked it on Friday May 11, and there it was.”

That’s what we call persistence.

But the recovery process wasn’t as simple as Russell might have hoped. When he first called the Beverly Hills Car Club, where the Austin Healey had been listed, the dealership offered to sell him back the stolen vehicle for nearly $24,000, despite Russell’s key, car title, and signed affidavits of ownership in hand.

Weeks passed, and Russell spent that time working with law enforcement officials from Philadelphia and Los Angeles to find the original stolen car report from 1970, via the National Crime Information Center. Although a single VIN letter had been entered incorrectly, the folks in blue eventually found Russell’s report and impounded the Austin Healey.

About $1,400 later, in impoundment and shipping costs, Russell and his wife had their vehicle back – but this time, as a post-retirement fixer-upper. Turns out the very same car was used to shuttle the nascent couple along on their first two dates, only to be stolen shortly thereafter.

“It still runs, but the brakes don’t work well,” he said. “We’re going to put it back the way it was.”

At present, the Austin Healey is worth somewhere in between $20,000 to $30,000. But after restoration, Russell estimates his reunited car to “be worth around $50,000.”

Considering that Russell originally paid $3,000 for the vehicle in 1968, the last 42 years of waiting seem to have paid off – as the time now amounts to free storage and upkeep of a classic car.

Naturally, the IRS might have a few unsettling ways of interpreting the whole transaction, but let’s just write this one off as an all-around victory. Except that, the selling dealership has thus far refused to speak up about the previous owner which claimed to have the car in his family since 1970.

Hmmmm…you have to wonder just what kind of ‘family’ we’re talking about.


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