"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.