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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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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 141 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      AWE!! Happy ending! YAY!
      • 2 Years Ago
      That's heart-warming and all but what about the guy who sold it to the Beverly Hills dealership and claimed ownership since 1970?
        kvh32055
        • 2 Years Ago
        Do we really need to know EVERYTHING? Jesus, Huff Post worked SO hard to put out this 1/2 assed story, do we REALLY want them to finish?
          • 2 Years Ago
          @kvh32055
          Why not? "Do we really need to know EVERYTHING?" euh....yes! Plus its a great story to follow!Soooo many are still unknown. But to tell you the truth I love sarcasm,and yours was awesome ;)
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow! That's wonderful! Good for him. Enjoy your car.
      jbiggs01
      • 2 Years Ago
      story needs follow up .wheres the theif?
      • 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.
      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
      The VIN number is in several places on most cars, something the dealer would have checked. As far as insurance, things were different in the 1970's. Some states didn't even require liability insurance 40 years ago. I highly doubt that a grad student could afford it.
        • 2 Years Ago
        One thing that may not have occurred to him is that the insurance company he had, if any, can now make a claim to get its money back. Probably won't happen due to all the time which has passed, but it could. I'm glad he got his car back and I hope he and his wife enjoy it.
      • 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.
      • 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.
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