News : Man finds stolen Healey after 42 years

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

A Texas man can finally end his 42-year search for his stolen 1967 Austin Healey sports car thanks to his persistence, a couple detectives and eBay. The City of Brotherly Love was none too friendly to former resident Robert Russell. His car, which held sentimental value to him and his wife, was heisted from his Philadelphia, Pennsylvania home in October of 1970.

But he never gave up searching for the vehicle. A LASD release says Russell, ‘continued his periodic search off and on for these many years, including on Internet websites such as eBay.’

In May 2012, Russell spotted what he thought was his car listed for sale on eBay and located at a car dealership in East Los Angeles. After comparing the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) listed in the ad to that printed in the car’s Certificate of Title, Russell knew he’d found her.

Russell contacted the East Los Angeles Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and Sheriff’s Detective Carlos Ortega along with the Philadelphia Police Department’s Major Crimes Auto Squad investigated the theft, finding that the VIN had been incorrectly entered into the system at the time of the theft report. The car, therefore, was never listed as stolen.

Ortega recovered the vehicle from the dealership, ‘intact and in fair condition,’ says the release, ‘although requiring some exterior and interior work.’

Russell and his wife ventured to East LA several days later to reclaim the Austin Healey, which was swiftly transported back to Texas. Estimated to be worth $23,000, the Austin Healey was originally purchased for $3000.

[Source: Laist]

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

7 Comments

  1. The hood looks a bit knackered but other than that, superficially at least, that car looks in amazing condition for its age.

    Great story- hope they never sell it.

    So many people would have sold that on anyway when kids come on to the scene, etc, and regret it for ever afterwards. In a funny sort of a way, they’ve been reunited with a car that had it been sold and not stolen, they’d have had little chance of getting back.

  2. @ Chris “So many people would have sold that on anyway when kids come on to the scene, etc, and regret it for ever afterwards.”
    So,so true!–I forever rue the day that I sold my MG TF 1250 (proper MG) around 1970 because the kids had come along and I could just not afford to run it and a family motor.
    Buy one now?? Just look at the prices!!!!

  3. A really inspiring story that gives me hope that I will one day find my grandparent’s 1970 Rover P5B Coupe which was sadly involved in an accident back in 1984 and declared a write-off.

    My interest to be reunited with the Rover and its cherished registration number VWB 164 started back in 2007 after remembering those great trips I used to have in it when very young. My research revealed that it was bought by a gentleman living on the outskirts of Exeter, Devon, shortly after it was taken to the salvage yard and he took 15 years to restore it. In 2003 he separated both the Rover and its cherished registration number and sold them both on. The Rover was subsequently re-registered with an age-related UDV…H registration by the local VRO.

    The gentleman died two years ago. When I finally met him in 2009, he recalled the car but nothing else, unfortunately.

    This story gives me the determination to perserve with my own little search to find both the Rover and its original cherished registration.

    Again, a really inspiring story and I hope the owner gets many more years of enjoyment out of it.

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