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Bob Russell and his Austin Healy were reunited after mo... Bob Russell and his Austin Healy were reunited after more than 40 years (Credit: ANDREW BUCKLEY/MCT/Landov).
Bob Russell couldn't sleep on the night of May 11, so he did what everyone does when suffering from insomnia: He started browsing the Internet. More specifically, Ebay -- looking for a 1967 Austin-Healy 3000 sports car. Russell used to own one, but it was stolen way back in 1970 when he lived in Philadelphia.

"I used to always look at Austin-Healeys parked on the side of the road," Russell told TheSpec.com. "Every once in a while, I'd search the Internet. I knew finding it would be impossible."

Russell had no idea how lucky he was about to get.

During his Ebay browsing, he came upon a Healey that looked quite a bit like the one he used to own. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was his car. He knew it because he had memorized the VIN.

"At first I wondered if my eyes were functioning," he told TheSpec.com. "I'm still trying to come down from the adrenalin rush."

The Ebay listing detailed all of the telltale signs of a stolen car: A missing VIN plate, a broken lock on the glove box, and a missing trunk lock. So Russell called the Beverly Hills dealership that was selling the car and told them it was stolen. The dealer responded that he had acquired the car from a man who claimed ownership since 1970 -- the year the car was stolen -- and even presented the car's official documents to make the case.

Over the ensuing weeks, Russell tried hard to get his car back. He negotiated with the dealer and worked with the local police, but neither tactic got him very far. But then he hit another lucky break. He was able to obtain a copy of the his archived stolen car report from the National Crime Information Center and, upon doing so, called the Philadelphia Police Department.

The police reactivated the report and worked with police in Beverly Hills to have the car impounded on June 14. Russell and his wife then traveled to California from their home in Texas to take ownership of the car on June 18.

The couple had their first date in the car, while they were graduate students at Temple University. Russell said that they are happy to have the Austin-Healy back, and even though the car needs some work, it's still in good condition.


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  • 141 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      My favorite sports car...ever.
      Bill
      • 2 Years Ago
      He knew it was his car because he had memorized the VIN but the car he claimed was his had a missing VIN plate. Looks like another BS story to me, but what did I expect? This is Huffpost, the home of made up stories.
        Larry Berglof
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bill
        I believe that the VIN number is stamped on the chassis, and probably other places as well. It would certainly be possible to know the Vin # in spite of the fact that the plate was missing.
        kvh32055
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bill
        And if you KNEW ANYTHING, you would know the VIN number is located in several places on a car, not just on the visible VIN plate by the dash
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am so glad he got his car back after 40yrs...now...I am looking for a class ring..stolen from a drive in movie restroom back in 1971. My mother bought me that high school class ring..I took very good care of it..took the ring off when washing my hands and I left it on the sink..Sussex County High School, in Sparta NJ..why someone would steal the ring is beyond me, since it had my initials inscribed inside the ring...SOOOOOO anyone out there that found my ring..I would really like it back..putting closure to the ring will be like coming full circle..Mother has since passed away..Maybe she can see who has the ring and find they have a guilty consence..Please give me my ring back...LJeterpudd@aol.com Thanks in advance!!!!
        Steven
        • 2 Years Ago
        If you forgot to put your ring back on your finger, then that is too bad. It is not a stolen ring. It is a lost ring. And finders keepers loser weepers.
        Stefanie Mackenzie
        • 2 Years Ago
        I have a class ring from a Florida school, circa 1980's where I cannot find the owner. I'm not getting rid of it, as I know someone out there would like to have it back. Contacting the school hasn't been any help, and I don't know what else to do. About the best I've been able to do is find someone I think is her who got married, then divorced, and the trail ends. Just something that happens with us ladies with marriages and name changes and such. So, ljeterpudd, if you havent already, contact your high school and tell them about the loss, and where to contact you in case someone calls them trying to find you. Good luck.
      krhoney
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great Story... Road trip back home must have been so sweet............ Wow.. nice..
      • 2 Years Ago
      That's amazing. So sad that it was out of his possession for so long, but very cool he's got it back! God works in mysterious ways.
        • 2 Years Ago
        if god had anything to do with it he wouldnt have allowed it to be taken from the man. Gtfo with that god ****.
          Steven
          • 2 Years Ago
          What makes you think God does not like to play cruel little tricks on his minions?
      Wwhatever747
      • 2 Years Ago
      Insomnia led to the find of a lifetime, God works in mysterious way sometimes.
      Steven
      • 2 Years Ago
      These kind of stories are entirely fabricated in order to fill the huge void of the Internet. Don't ask where is the rest of the story when you see things like this reported. Just fill in the blanks yourself. Anyway you want the story to read, for that is what these "journalists" are doing.
      vcatlette
      • 2 Years Ago
      Anthony, how does this prove that there are no coincidences, accidents, or luck? This sounds like the luckiest of coincidences to me. I doubt if there were a god, she would care about some guy's long-gone car.
        Fred
        • 2 Years Ago
        @vcatlette
        You are right. I'm sure she doesn't.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Imagine how this went. The PA Police Department calls the Beverly Hills Police Department at 9AM EST. "Hello, is Eddie Murphy there? Oh, you've heard that one? Twice just today? {snrk} Sorry, had to do it. Anyway, we have a report of a stolen car seen for sale on eBay in your Precinct." "Yeah, I have the original report right here. Car is an Austin Healy, made 1967, VIN # xxx xxx xxx xxx. Date it was stolen? Let's see here... it was stolen back in May. May, 1970. Hello? Are you choking? Hello !" Never eat doughnuts while on the phone.
      philc
      • 2 Years Ago
      Interesting. Wouldn't the car actually belong to the insurance company who paid off for the original loss?
      tje4pnl
      • 2 Years Ago
      Austin Healeys are built by commission. At least at one time they were. I hope this is the case as it make s the car much easier to identify. And I have to laugh at the dealer accepting " documentation". In a pigs +++ he got what he paid for and most likely ground the owner on price because of the missing ID plates, broken deck lock and missing glove box door. In Califiornia it might just have had a vanity plate that reads " STOLEN". I sold my '56 AH100 4 bn2 in 1965 to an owner who totalled it in 3 weeks. On a visit to the beach we saw a Healey and sure enough it bore the same vin number. It had "some of the parts" from the totalled car and had taken Ken Jones over 25 years to restore it. This is a tribute to the technology of rebuilding and talent of a "home builder "to bring it back. And yes I did make an offer and no I did not get the car. He just laughed and told me I had my chance. TJE
      dtsv180
      • 2 Years Ago
      That's great. Now, go after that person that took the car.
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