John Webber
John Webber
10/29/20 9:33 a.m.

[Editor's Note: This article originally ran in the January 2013 issue of Classic Motorsports.]

Bob Russell agrees that getting his stolen Healey back after 42 years was a dream come true, but he never expected the media explosion that followed. When the story really got cranked up, the calls got so bad he had to turn off his cell phone. Even then, reporters managed to track him down. 

What started as a small story in “The Dallas Morning News” spread to hundreds of newspapers worldwide, including publications in Australia, Russia and India. 

Network and cable television played the story, too. Hundreds of local stations across the country picked it up. Diane Sawyer aired a segment on “ABC World News.” Jay Leno did a funny bit on “The Tonight Show.”

The Internet buzzed as bloggers chatted about it. Car boards lit up and links appeared. Voices on Twitter weighed in. Videos appeared on YouTube.

The tale of how Bob Russell tracked down his stolen Healey after four decades resulted in more than 3200 comments on Yahoo! News. One said, “I think the FBI or CIA should hire this guy. Terrorists wouldn’t stand a chance.” Photography Credit: John Webber

Bob and his wife, Cindy, were overwhelmed. Why all the interest? 

Well, theirs was a captivating tale of extraordinary luck, fortunate timing, dogged perseverance, improbable twists and good old-fashioned police work in two cities 2400 miles apart. Even for people who didn’t know an Austin-Healey from an Acura, this feel-good story shone like a headlight in a tunnel of dark news. 

“You’re kidding,” folks said. “After 42 years? No way.” 

Who could possibly even remember what he was driving four decades ago? And after all that time, who could piece the puzzle together and buck the odds until he got his car back? Well, Bob Russell could—and did.

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noddaz UltraDork
10/29/20 4:20 p.m.

Nice story!  A follow up should be done.


californiamilleghia SuperDork
11/1/20 12:44 p.m.

This is always a concern when you buy an older car , 

The California dealer got a title when he bought it , 

How was he able  to verify if it was stolen or not  ?

11/23/20 5:14 p.m.

the dealership should have checked that the vin plate was intact and had matching numbers to the title.

If he did he would have not taken possession of this car, unless he really didnt care and was just going to pass it off to someone else. 

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