Register now to get rid of these ads!

stolen car recovered after 39 years

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Sealed Power, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. 340Fish
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 101


    Great story! sorta like checking an old lottery ticket... too bad it stands to get costly with litigation.
  2. 29nash
    Joined: Nov 6, 2008
    Posts: 4,544

    from colorado

    Why would you leave the name of the tow company that stole the car out?
    We live and learn. I'll lay odds that the guy that owned the warehouse knew it was stolen, that's why he kept it under wraps for 20 years........ You aren't giving yourself enough credit. You know what 'numbers match' means, so why wouldn't you check them before you bought a car? It's my guess that the only people that don't follow the protocol are the ones that buy a car but DON'T WANT TO KNOW IF ITS STOLEN.

    On that "1965 Corvette..................." If the two vin plates matched the title, the police wouldnt be confiscating the car and taking it back to somebody that reported it stolen a couple of decades ago. SOMEBODY knew, otherwise it wouldn't have been kept under wraps for all these years without the problem surfacing. So along comes a guy that wants to get it checked out. We don't know what was in his mind, but maybe he had suspicions. Depending on how the deal went down, we don't know that he lost his 65k anyhow. ANYBODY that deals in collector cars of that value knows where the numbers are. It would take a real airhead to pay big$$$$ on a car without checking it out first, unless there was a bait and switch in progress. So I'm going out on a limb here and guess that he didn't lose his money. In civil court, the guy that sold it is going to have to do a lot of dancing and explaining how he got the car, why he didn't check it out, and why he attempted to sell it, knowing it, or not, because 'not knowing' is not a legal excuse.

    That's why I say that the police work is done, but the civil litigation has just started. Another possibility is that nobody will sue anybody, because everybody in the chain of custody from day one knew the car was stolen. If I were investigatng the situation, I would lay low and see. Guess what? They will.

    The presence of numbers on cars and the knowledge that cars have vin and titles is not a big kept secret. Even my 17 year old grandson knows to look at the vin and compare it with the title. If the numbers don't match, it don't take an 'expert' to figure it out.

    So, when this happens and we hear about it, we repeat the same old song again. That way if one has been on the hamb for more than a week and then goes out and gets fucked on a car deal because of numbers not matching, it's because he didn't read a couple of threads on the subject.
    Of course people buy cars and register them without taking them for DMV to check. But I don't know of anybody that buys a car where the vin don't match the title and they don't know about it. They just know how to launder it.
  3. Great story!

    There was a guy round here that restored a Nash Metro without doing any paperwork when he bought it. He had spent around $30G doing the car. After it was done he traced the paperwork, got ahold of the registered owner and said he wanted the title for the car. The actual registered owner said he wanted his car back. The actual story was the guy who restored the car bought it from some guy who said it was left on his property years ago and he sold it for cheap. The registered owner said he had it stored at a friends and it disappeared. He called the cops and they went over to the restorers house with him and he got his car back! Totally restored, for nothing. The restorer was out $30G and couldn't do a damn thing about it!:eek:

  4. fuzzface
    Joined: Dec 7, 2006
    Posts: 1,315


    Good thing he forgot to pay his Insurance otherwise he wouldn't have it today.
  5. MarkzRodz
    Joined: Sep 12, 2009
    Posts: 533


    I cancelled ALL my Insurance Fuzzface,,,I can't wait to see what happens next!
  6. SlamIam
    Joined: Oct 8, 2007
    Posts: 448


    A few years ago a coworker was on the job tearing down abandoned houses that sat in a freeway right-of-way. He discovered a 60's Mustang fastback in one of the old garages, came back after hours with a trailer and took it home. When he went to the DMV to register it, some officers arrived and took him into custody. Had a heck of a time convincing them he was not the one who stole it. It was returned to the owner.
  7. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 7,700


    I'm not sure where in N.Y. It was stolen in Harrisburg, Pa. It was advertised for sale and the serial number was recognised as being this guy's car.
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 2,601


    I'm no diver, but I'll swim for a merc
  9. ironandsteele
    Joined: Apr 25, 2006
    Posts: 5,340


    woah. that's pretty amazing.
  10. agtw31
    Joined: Apr 27, 2009
    Posts: 361


    Monday, Nov. 09, 2009

    A challenge to find the Challenger of youth

    Buddy Whittington's search for the 1971 Dodge Challenger that was stolen from his grandfather nearly 28 years ago came to an end last week.

    But the Surfside Beach resident's reunion with the rare muscle car has raised questions about the national network of collectors who think nothing of spending six figures for the car of their dreams - and the lengths some people will go to sell them that car.

    It's a world where documents can be falsified, car titles muddied, original parts switched for fakes and the car you think you're getting isn't really the one you get.

    "I don't want to say it happens a lot, but it happens," said Deane Fehrman of Golden, Colo., a classic car expert and nationally recognized automobile appraiser.
    When the economy was booming, "people were paying outrageous prices for those cars."

    While the Dodge Challenger finally is back where it belongs, law enforcement officials say the mystery surrounding the car's fortunes for more than a quarter-century probably never will be solved.

    The FBI found Whittington's car last year in a garage in Lincoln, Neb., putting an end to a decadelong investigation by Whittington and the bureau in which the Challenger was tracked through a series of buyers stretching from the East Coast to the Midwest.
    The FBI eventually seized the car, and the U.S. Marshals Service helped escort the Challenger - with an estimated value topping $100,000 - out of Nebraska and back to its rightful owner.

    Whittington said he was thrilled when the car was delivered to his home last week.
    He still has Polaroid photos - some of them starting to fade - of him proudly standing next to the car as a child.
    And he remembers talking his father into letting him drive the car to high school despite its top speed of 166 mph.

    "I wound up getting a speeding ticket," Whittington said.
    "My dad wanted to sell it after that, but nobody would buy it because it uses so much gas."

    Along with the memories that resurfaced last week, however, was a gut feeling that the Challenger had played a role in some type of car collector's conspiracy.

    "The car has been robbed of some of its parts," Whittington said.
    "The hood has been changed.
    It used to have a vinyl top, but now it's a hardtop.
    You can tell it's been painted, the headlights have been switched and some of the chrome doesn't match up."

    Even more perplexing, he said, was the metal plate stamped with a series of numeric codes - known as a fender tag - that had been attached to the car inside the engine bay.

    Similar to an automobile's vehicle identification number, or VIN, the numerals on a fender tag detail every part and option specific to the car on which it is attached - from the type of engine and transmission that were installed to the location of the factory that built it and even whether the car has a locking gas cap.

    The VIN proved Whittington's Challenger was the same one his grandfather had purchased decades ago.
    But someone had switched the fender tag to make it appear as if the alterations the car had undergone since it was stolen were original.

    One of eight made

    Whittington's grandfather, the late E.K. Whittington Sr., bought the Challenger new in 1970 from the old Clark Motors dealership that was located on what is now Mr. Joe White Avenue in Myrtle Beach.
    A special-order car, the Challenger had a 440 cubic inch six-pack engine with a shaker hood and top-of-the-line options.
    Whittington still has some of the canceled checks his grandfather wrote while making the $85 monthly payments on the car, a custom model that was one of only eight that Dodge ever produced.

    "My grandfather was 66 years old at the time, and he had just retired from the railroad," Whittington said.
    "He had always been a car enthusiast, and [Clark Motors] talked him into getting that car."

    The Challenger's thirst for fuel - the car averages six miles per gallon or less, depending on the speed it's driven - was tough to bear during the Nixon-era oil crisis, and the car simply became too expensive to operate when a second energy crisis hit in 1979.
    The car, with just 41,000 miles on its odometer, eventually was put into storage in a Conway warehouse.

    It was stolen from that warehouse on New Year's Day in 1982.
    The thieves were never caught and, since the car had been placed in storage, the insurance policy had been allowed to lapse so there was no coverage for the loss.

    "We heard all kinds of stories back then, that someone was using it as a drag racing car or it had been cut up to make a race car," Whittington said.
    "It was all rumors, though.
    We never knew for sure what happened to it."

    Whittington went about his life for the next 16 years or so, but never completely forgot about the car his grandfather had loved.

    "We didn't lose hope that we'd find it, but nobody knew anything about where it could be," he said.

    Then, in 1998, Whittington bought his first computer and the possibility of locating the car through the Internet became almost an obsession.

    "One day I was online and I came across a car for sale and it was a 1971 Dodge with 41,000 original miles," Whittington said.
    "I said, 'That's got to be it.'"

    Whittington sent an e-mail to the seller, who was located in Wisconsin, and asked for the car's VIN.
    The response perfectly matched the VIN on his grandfather's car, but the seller said the Internet listing was outdated - the Challenger had already been sold.

    Whittington continued to dig and eventually traced the car's chain of possession from a series of buyers dating back to 1992 up to the last known purchasers - Anthony Capcino and Brian Simcox, both of Bensalem, Pa. - who had bought the car for $35,000 from a man in Sterling Heights, Mich.
    The car had been through at least eight owners by that point, including Jeff Bobst - the Waverly, Iowa, man who built all of the muscle cars used in the "Nash Bridges" television series.

    Wanting to document that the car was stolen, Whittington said he asked the Conway Police Department for a copy of the 1982 incident report.

    "They couldn't find anything," he said.
    "They said all of the records had been destroyed [in 1999] by Hurricane Floyd."

    Whittington sought help from the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, the State Law Enforcement Division and others, but said he could not generate any interest in his case.

    Whittington eventually met with an investigator from the 15th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office, who put him in touch with the FBI in 2006.

    'That famous stolen car'

    The FBI's investigation centered on Paul Christopherson, a Lincoln, Neb., man agents believe purchased the Challenger from Capcino and Simcox for about $45,000 on an eBay auction in early 2004, according to court documents used to obtain a seizure warrant for the car.

    Christopherson, who is listed as the principal of classic car dealership Mid America Motors, did not respond to The Sun News' request for comments.

    Whittington first made contact with Christopherson in 2005, the court documents show, and he secretly recorded several of their telephone conversations that year.
    The court documents show that during one of those conversations, Christopherson told Whittington to meet him in Iowa with $45,000 and a trailer if he wanted to retrieve his car.

    Christopherson also told Whittington during a recorded conversation that he should not contact the police because something might happen to the car.

    "It could come up missing or damaged or just plain missing," Christopherson told Whittington.

    Christopherson also told Whittington that he had connections with muscle car magazine publishers who could boost the Challenger's value if he was willing to cooperate.

    "After I get that thing put in a magazine, after all that's done and I get that story published, that car is going to be worth 175 [thousand dollars]," Christopherson said.
    "Because that's going to be that famous stolen car.
    Any novelty to these cars just really adds up."

    In another conversation, Whittington questions whether Christopherson will rob him if he shows up with $45,000 to buy back his car.
    Christopherson tells Whittington to call Galen Govier, a noted expert on Dodge muscle cars, as a reference.

    "You can call Galen Govier or I can call Galen and have him call you and you can ask him, 'Can I trust Paul or is he going to put a gun to my head for $40,000,'" Christopherson said in the recorded telephone conversation.

    Govier, who lives in Prairie Du Chien, Wis., did not respond to The Sun News' request for comments.

    Whittington said he tried to contact Govier in 2005 but could not get past his secretary.

    "His secretary told me Govier charges $75 an hour for consultations," Whittington said. "I gave her my credit card number and told her she could charge me for two hours, but I just needed 10 minutes of his time."

    The secretary promised that Govier would call back, but Whittington said the call never came.

    The FBI, however, did interview Govier on Jan. 24, 2008, according to the court documents.
    During that interview, Govier told an agent that he knew Christopherson had owned the car since 2004.

    "Govier recalled having a telephone conversation with Christopherson about the Challenger, and produced an invoice documenting that Govier charged Christopherson a 12-minute consultation fee for their conversation, which took place on Feb. 25, 2004, at 3:30 p.m.," the court documents state.

    Three weeks later, the FBI interviewed Christopherson, who denied ever owning or possessing the Challenger.

    Christopherson told the FBI that Whittington was harassing him about the car, so he made up the story about owning the car and his offer to sell it back.

    The investigation dragged on for months until the FBI learned that the car was being stored in a garage belonging to Dennis Smith, a Lincoln, Neb., man who had been doing business with Christopherson for years.
    Smith did not respond to a request for comment.

    On Nov. 7, 2008, federal Judge Thomas Rogers - based on evidence gathered by the FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stan Ragsdale - signed a seizure warrant for the car and the FBI retrieved the Challenger from Smith's garage a week later.
    The car was impounded for nearly a year while its true ownership was established and to give Smith and others an opportunity to dispute the seizure.
    At 4 p.m. on Nov. 1, the car was delivered to Whittington's home in The Lakes subdivision.

    In the nearly 28 years since the Challenger had been stolen, the odometer shows it had been driven less than 1,000 miles.

    New tags and old tags

    It was the FBI's interview with Govier last year that sparked Whittington's suspicion there might be an organized effort to hide the true ownership of stolen muscle cars.

    Govier operates a business called Galen's Tag Service LLC, which reproduces rusty or missing fender tags for Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler products made between 1962 and 1974.
    Govier charges between $110 and $165 for that service, according to his Web site.

    Govier told the FBI that in 1998 that he made a fender tag for the Challenger that had been stolen from Whittington's grandfather.
    Govier said he made the fender tag for a man in Elkton, Minn., who owned the car at that time.

    There is no way to know whether the Govier-produced fender tag is the same one that is on Whittington's car today.

    Whittington said he is not accusing anyone of wrongdoing, but that it would be easy to alter a car's appearance and then switch the fender tag to make it appear as if no changes had been made.

    Linda Keene, the Myrtle Beach FBI agent who led the investigation, said there is no indication Govier did anything wrong.

    She said the car has been missing for so long that it is impossible to tell who might have switched out parts, gotten rid of the vinyl top or changed the tag.

    "I'm not sure we could ever determine that due to the amount of time that has passed and the number of people who have possessed the car," Keene said, adding that the statute of limitations has expired for the original theft.
    "Our investigation is pretty much over at this point."

    Fehrman, the classic car expert, said the most likely purpose in switching one fender tag for another is to "camouflage the car, or help disguise it" if the automobile was stolen.

    He said Govier has an impeccable reputation and any fender tag he produces is legitimate.

    "If he certifies a car, that's as good as it gets other than having God come down and certify it," Fehrman said. Govier's certifications and fender tags are so reliable, Fehrman said, that classic car enthusiasts generally believe that "if he says it, that's the way it is.
    It's a good thing he's an honest person."

    Still, Whittington said he wonders whether somewhere along the line someone produced a bogus fender tag to prevent his stolen car from being identified. He said fender tags also could be falsified as part of an effort to turn a common vehicle - for instance, a 1971 Dodge Challenger with a 383-cubic inch engine - into a rare, high-performance model like the one he owns.

    "You could switch some of the parts and make a $25,000 car look like a $125,000 car," he said.

    Fehrman said there is a growing market for cars that are rebuilt to look like expensive originals - called "clone cars" - because many people cannot afford the rare classics.

    "People will say, 'If I can't have the real thing, then I'll just get a clone,'" he said. "Sometimes, those clones get passed off as the real thing."

    Fehrman said it is likely Whittington can restore his Challenger to nearly its full value by replacing the stolen parts.

    "It won't be what it was, but if he can put the legitimate parts back he would have what we call a restored car," Fehrman said.
    "And when you have a car that rare, a restored one can be nearly as valuable as the original."

    Whittington said he hopes to restore the car as close as possible to its original condition but the value is secondary.

    "I didn't spend the last 10 years searching for this car because of the money," he said. "I did it because of what the car means to me."
  11. the metalsurgeon
    Joined: Apr 19, 2009
    Posts: 1,238

    the metalsurgeon
    from Denver

    interesting ans facinating posts everyone,especially the first one!
  12. historynw
    Joined: May 26, 2008
    Posts: 806


    Makes you wonder about collusion. I find it amazing that the so-called expert didn't know it was stolen. He has the numbers, its a short hop in documenting the car with the National Crime Insurance Bureau. Kinda of tells me his certifications are only worth using if your run out of toilet paper. I do know a thing or three about id'ing cars.
  13. Captain Chaos
    Joined: Oct 16, 2009
    Posts: 596

    Captain Chaos
    from Missery

    Uhmmmm........he did steal it, he just wasn't the first one to steal it .
    The car had it been not stolen would have belonged to the demolition company so he basicly stole it from them .
  14. Blades
    Joined: May 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,188

    from Chicago

    I had an 86 Monte Carlo w/ a 305, it was stolen here in the NW side of Chicago in 1991. It surfaced 2 years later on the South side (yuck). Funny thing is that it now had expensive rims and a ghetto sound system. The schmuck actually treated it as if it were his own.
  15. gaspumpchas
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 175


    Friend here in newyork had his camaro stored in a rented garage. He was told by the owner of the building that he had to move the car since he had sold the building. So, over he goes and finds the garage leveled and no sign of the car. 3 Years later he gets a call from the Canadian Mounted police that they have found his car. Turns out whoever had the car tried to register it in western canada and it kicked up as stoled. A transporter was so moved by the story that he moved the car To Montreal for free. Car still had the 2 NOS fenders with it and had been nicely restored. Brian Flew up and drove the car home from Montreal!!!

    Nice to know that there are folks out there that care!!!

  16. cool beans i hope my 71 challenger shows up sometime soon!
  17. Retro Jim
    Joined: May 27, 2007
    Posts: 3,859

    Retro Jim

    Hell of a good story !

  18. Insane 1
    Joined: Feb 13, 2005
    Posts: 973

    Insane 1
    from Ennis TX

    I have the title to my dads 1'st car hanging on my office wall, 51 chev 2dr. Stolen by his mother. I'd love to find it today.

    And just a heads up out there for everyone -

    About 2 or 3 months ago several blank titles were from a DMV in Texas! This means someone somewere is typing up "good" Texas titles. A list of title numbers can be obtained from the state.
  19. Tom S. in Tn.
    Joined: Jan 16, 2011
    Posts: 1,108

    Tom S. in Tn.

    I know this thread is ancient, but there are 2 updates to this article that occurred just this week here in Nashville I feel compelled to add to this story.

    1) Read where Mr. Mayfields Vette, nick-named Boomerang which had been on loan, at GM's National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Ky., actually survived this utterly bizarre act of nature.

    ........more to follow; Tom S. in Tn.
  20. Tom S. in Tn.
    Joined: Jan 16, 2011
    Posts: 1,108

    Tom S. in Tn.

    <table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="100%"> <tbody><tr> <td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset"> Originally Posted by Sealed Power [​IMG]
    "We'll never figure out who stole it in the very beginning," Dillon said. "It's just an old theft that will actually come to a conclusion."

    </td> </tr> </tbody></table>
    Metro might not KNOW who stole it, but I'd lay odds it was "Rabbit" Veach---Nashville's most notorious habitual car thief! ;)

    Good for Chance! He's a nice fellow. :cool: I love stories like this.


    2) Last but certainly not least; an update on the accused person who instigated the beginning of this odessy back in 1970.

    note: I recall Mr. Veach from my childhood when he used to jump auto carrier trains leaving Radnor Yard and ride along throwing out a trail of Muncies and big block parts from Nashville to Atlanta or St Louis.
    I once purchased a 56 Ford truck in his home town community, the 'Little Texas' suburb of Franklin, Tn.
    Of course it wouldn't register, but when I explained my story of where it had come from, I was simply instructed by the clerk in Franklin to keep it off state hiways and if anyone claimed it belonged to them, simply show the bill of sale originating from Little Texas.
    I later saw Mr. Veach as a contract employee in the Tenn State penitentiary clinic in the mid 90's. A pleasant, non violent and quiet spoken man whose flaws could make a best seller.
    Tom S. in Tn.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2014
  21. k9racer
    Joined: Jan 20, 2003
    Posts: 3,091


    The Veach boys racedat the Fairgrounds and other tracks in the Nashville area. If the broke a engine or trans they were back at the track the next open date. Now I know how they always had fresh engines.
  22. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,214

    dan c

    similar story here in st. louis a while back. a fellow had his 62 vette stolen from his school's parking lot back in 65. he finally got it back--decades later--when the "owner" took the title, which was for a 68 vette, to dmv and tried to get it "corrected" to a 62. by then it had been restored with new top and interior!
  23. jfreakofkorn
    Joined: Apr 13, 2010
    Posts: 2,640


    theres a good and a bad to this story: original owner got his car back and someone is out of 65 K

    Now they send cars overseas to be restored?
  25. tiredford
    Joined: Apr 6, 2009
    Posts: 532

    from Mo.

    Beware....I've seen vin tags on doors attached with hardware store rivets. Also, I've seen factory rivets for sale on Ebay.
  26. Judd
    Joined: Feb 26, 2003
    Posts: 1,894


    On Most of the old Fords i've had the factory refers to the door tag as a warranty tag. The serial number is stamped on the frame or fender on the unibody cars ( Comet Mustang etc. ) . I'd never look at one as proof of match on title.


Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!


Copyright © 1995-2021 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.