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Man finds stolen car 42 years later... on eBay

By Austin Amuzie - Saturday, August 11, 2012

Having a car stolen is a traumatic experience, and many times the rightful owner never gets to see their beloved wheels again. That was the reality that had set in for Bob Russell after his 1967 Austin Healey 3000 was stolen from his home in 1970. Now 66, Russell held little hope for ever seeing his prized convertible again, but a casual eBay search in May changed all of that.

Never forgetting the vehicle he lost, Russell scoured eBay listings from time to time in hopes that his now-antique vehicle would somehow show up again. On May 11, he finally found what he was looking for. The Healey appeared for sale from a California dealership that claimed it had purchased the car from a private seller, and the VIN matched perfectly with Russell's records.

After getting brushed off by the dealer — who offered to sell the car back to Russell for the tidy sum of $24,000 — the car's rightful owner contacted the police in both the location of the theft in Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, where the car was being sold. It turns out the original stolen vehicle report hadn't produced any results in the 42 years since the car was stolen because of a clerical error. The car's VIN had been incorrectly entered into the FBI's database.

Once the legalese had been sorted out, the Los Angeles Country Sheriff's Department took possession of the car and impounded it. Russell and his wife then took a trip to California to be reunited with their classic ride once again. The couple paid $600 to release the vehicle from impound, and another $800 to ship it back to their home in Dallas.

Now that the vintage convertible has been returned, Russell plans on restoring the vehicle to its original condition. He hopes that once his project is finished, the vehicle will be worth upwards of $50,000. Of course, after a 42-year search to be reunited with the car, we imagine he won't be eager to hand the keys over to a new owner any time soon.


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