Man Finds Stolen Car on eBay Four Decades Later

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Guillermo Granja / Reuters

A 1966 Austin Healey car drives past a rally in the streets of Bad Kissingen village, Germany.

A Texas man whose car was stolen managed to get it back after spotting the vehicle on eBay while surfing the Internet – only a good 42 years after it disappeared.

Bob Russell was a graduate student at Temple University in Philadelphia when he had his 1967 Austin Healey roadster stolen from him back in 1970. According to the story, he had parked the car outside of an apartment complex just after a date with his future wife. The next morning, the car was gone.

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Undeterred, Russell began looking for the car, keeping an eye out over the decades. Earlier this year, he spotted a likely looking vehicle listed by a Los Angeles car dealer on the online auction site. It was definitely his — everything checked out, including the VIN number listed. He contacted the dealer, who responded by offering to sell it back to him for $24,000.

Russell then contacted Los Angeles police, who were unable to help him because they were unable to find a record of the stolen car in the database. On a hunch, he went to the Philadelphia police, who figured out that the car’s VIN had been entered incorrectly into the FBI database.

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Luckily, once the mistake was rectified, Los Angeles police were finally able to impound the car. Russell and his wife drove to California, paid $600 in fees and took their beloved car back home. Now, that’s devotion.

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.