2 years 1 month ago - 2 years 1 month ago#517by JP
JP created the topic: Stolen '57 Chevy recovered 30 yrs later - restored
Customs inspectors in Los Angeles find California man's missing classic inside Australia-bound container
Michael Winter, USA TODAY 10:30 p.m. EST February 20, 2014
Twice in the early 1980s, thieves stole Skip Wilson's prized 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, one of the most coveted cars among collectors.
Monday, after 30 years and four other owners, it came home to Northern California — fully restored since it last vanished, in 1984.
"Somebody put a whole lot of work and money into that car," the 65-year-old auto mechanic from Clearlake Oaks told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. "It was all disassembled and put back."
The California Highway Patrol notified Wilson three weeks ago that U.S. Customs inspectors found his hot wheels at the Port of Los Angeles inside a shipping container full of cars bound for Australia.
Wilson is at a loss to explain how the Department of Motor Vehicles could let a reported stolen car be passed along to others, given that its vehicle identification number was on file with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a non-profit organization that fights theft and fraud.
Wilson bought the Chevy in 1975 for $375. It was white over yellow and, as the Press Democrat described it, "in sorry shape." Wilson had put a "fair amount of work' into his ride before thieves first snatched it in 1983. He got it back, missing the engine and transmission.
Months later, still not reassembled, his baby went on its extended hiatus.
Wilson was stunned when the auto transport rolled up to his home this week. The car was gleaming Competition Orange sporting custom chrome, monogrammed interior, 17-inch racing wheels and a 350-horsepower V-8 with a Holley four-barrel carburetor. The odometer indicated it had turned over just nine miles in three decades,
"I imagine somebody in Australia must be awful upset," he said.
Stolen cars, particularly Detroit classics, are hot commodities among the newly rich around the world, particularly Asia.
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