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Stolen '57 Chevy returned after 30 years with complimentary restoration

Stories like this are too rare. Skip Wilson, 65, took delivery of his fully restored, 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air last Monday. That's not the cool part - he hadn't seen the car in over 30 years.

Wilson's two-door Bel Air (not shown above) was purchased in 1975 for $375, and after years of work on it, was stolen in 1983. The car was recovered, but was missing its engine and transmission. Before the northern California resident had a chance to source a new powertrain, the car was stolen again, not to be seen until it arrived outside his house sporting a new coat of Competition Orange paint and a 350-cubic-inch V8 fed by a Holley four-barrel carb.

It turns out that over the 30 years since it was stolen, the car had seen four different owners, one of whom had completely restored it. There was supposed to be a fifth owner, in Australia, until US Customs inspectors discovered the car in a shipping container in the Port of Los Angeles. After notifying the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which had the car's VIN on record, it was seized by the California Highway Patrol and returned to Wilson.

The entire story, published by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat is really worth a read. While Wilson is wondering how his Chevy was registered by four different owners when its VIN was on record with the NICB, he just seems happy to have it back. "Somebody put a whole lot of work and money into that car," Wilson told the Press Democrat. "I imagine somebody in Australia must be awful upset."

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