Classic car owners, including especially those with muscle cars, street rods, hot rods, older binoculars and vintage trucks, are facing uncertain times as car thefts are on the rise, and actions from thieves are becoming more bold and brazen.

I recently came across a story published by a man who owned a Daytona Blue 1963 Corvette Coupe with mitsubishi xfc concept all matching numbers. The all-original classic sport car had an immaculate dark blue interior where only the carpet had ever been replaced. The 327 engine was said to produce a rhythmic loping that not only brought a smile to your face, but got you day daydreaming of having this beauty parked in your own garage. Then disaster strikes and you’re snapped through your dream and into his nightmare!

The master of this beautiful little bit of American history took his precious car about what he called a small “backwoods” show that a friend and he decided to go to in the spur of the moment. As owner Jacob Morgan, of Bakersfield, LOS ANGELES described, “The event was an annual but rather unofficial gathering of classic car lovers and I was thrilled to bring my car down. Unfortunately, the part of Florida that the event was being held was extremely dry due to drought. About three or four hours after arriving, a man who owned a red GTO (I could not tell you the year because so say the least I did not care afterward) decided to start up his ride for the spectators. It was just one backfire but it was enough to start the dry turf ablaze–and guess where my Corvette was parked?

Nearly twenty five classic cars were consumed by the blaze started by that backfiring GTO and my Corvette was one of them. Of course I had the auto properly insured but they just aren’t making 1963 Corvettes any longer and the only person I could find that was similar cost $10, 000 more than my policy’s benefit. I guess if there is a meaning to my sad tale, it is to avoid backwoods car shows absolutely because they are unregulated, disorganized, and dangerous to classic cars like my beloved 1963 Corvette Coupe. “

This isn’t always your traditional way of losing your precious classic car, muscle car, street fly fishing rod, antique car, vintage truck or other collectible old vehicle, but it does drive home the attachment site that we need to exercise care in even the most innocent surroundings like a car show! Freak accidents like Mr. Morgan experienced can and do are the cause of many losses to enthusiasts – not just theft or vandalism.

Sadly though, theft isn’t a rare thing and the methods are becoming more strange. Guy Algar and I have had pieces stolen off one of our own vehicles that we were towing back to our shop while we stopped for a quick bite to eat! We’ve had a good number of hubcaps taken over the years. And, we actually had the brake lights cheated of our own car hauler while we were in a parts store one day picking up parts for a customer! We’ve had one customer tell us the story where he previously taken his wife out to dinner and had carefully parked his 1969 Corvette at a local restaurant, under a big bright light, and in what appeared to be a “safe” area, simply to come out 45 minutes to an hour later to find all his emblems and trim taken right off the auto! Thieves have been known to take the entire car hauler (with the classic sitting on top) right off the tow vehicle’s hitch ball and transfer the hauler to their own tow vehicle when people are on the road, at a car show, or some other type of event. These are bold moves by people who do not fear the consequences.

Other thefts that were reported around the country have included:

Dr. Phil just had his ’57 Chevy Belair convertible stolen from the Burbank repair shop he previously brought it to for repairs.

A 1937 Buick, valued at over $100, 000 was extracted from a gated community parking garage in Fort Worth, Colorado.

Tom of New Mexico reported the theft of two of his collector cars to Hemming. Tom owns about as few as six collector cars altogether, and to store them all, he hired out a storage unit. Unfortunately, when he went to check on them recently, for the first time in about six months, he found that two were missing – a 1957 two-door Chevrolet Belair and a 1967 Mercury Cougar GT.

There was also a written report of a man from Jefferson City, Missouri, who actually saved his very own stolen car, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro that had been stolen 16 years before, after seeing it in a Google search!

In a Los angeles suburb, girls came home to a garage empty of her precious 1957 Chevy Bel-Air which had been valued at more than $150, 000. The beautiful convertible had been featured in several magazines and Series and won dozens of awards at car shows around the country. A neighbor’s surveillance camera caught the actions of the thieves and revealed that the Bel-Air was pushed down the street by a pickup truck which had pulled into her garage just minutes after she had left. The thieves likely loaded it onto an awaiting trailer. It’s thought that the thieves distinguishing the auto at one of the car shows, followed it home afterwards, then waited for the possiblity to steal it.

A Seattle collector was the victim of a targeted “smash-and grab” from the facility where he kept his cars. The thieves apparently ransacked the building and drove off with a 396/425 four-speed 1965 Corvette Stingray; and a 20, 000-mile 396/four-speed 1970 Chevelle SS.

A 1959 Chevrolet Impala was stolen during a Cruise Night. The owner got good news-bad news when the police tracked down because while they did recover the classic car, he previously put in a claim for the theft along with his insurance policy after the theft many months before, so the car went to the insurance company rather than being returned to him. Apparently detectives saved the Impala from a chop shop nearly eight months after it was stolen, repainted and modified.

Hemmings News also reported of a reader whoever 1970 Honda Maverick was stolen from his home in Missouri. The auto was found and returned, but the investigation apparently revealed that the burglar had been watching the owner for 2 years, with the intent of stealing it and deploying it to race with. Chilling thing to find out.

A 1979 Buick Electra 225 Limited Edition was stolen out of a grocery store parking lot in suburban Detroit with the burglar avoiding with an urn inside the shoe that contained the remains of the master’s stepfather!

After saving for over 40 years, a man from Virginia bought the auto of his dreams, a 1962 Dodge Lancer. Buying his dream car, he began his restoration project, which was about 60 percent complete when he relocated to Colorado. Without a garage to keep it in after his move, he stored it in a 24-foot dark trailer along with a 1971 Dodge Colt he planned to turn into a race car, and kept the trailer parked at a storage lot. At the end of Come july 1st, the trailer and everything in it evaporated.
The last story actually has a happy ending because it was saved due to alert shop owners being suspicious of person wanting to unload a Lancer for only $1, 500 including the many boxes of parts. After some research, the owner was reunited along with his car. Guy and I have been accomplished on numerous occasions by people wanting to sell their vehicles. Some have difficultie stories and the callers are willing to unload the auto for a real bargain. We’ve always walked from these offers, primarily because we’re not in the business of buying and selling cars (we’re not dealers or re-sellers), but also because we’re cautious of a “too-good-to-be-true” price. One contact particular did make us very suspicious, as the woman unknown caller insisted that the sale must be completed by Wednesday (she called our shop over the weekend) and the price was extremely low for a rather rare model Mustang. Alert shop owners can be critical in helping in the recovery of stolen classic cars.

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