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Classic Car Corner - July 30, 2012

  • Written by Tom Berg

The Stolen Camaro.   Vintage cars can be good family fun and provide a lifetime of enjoyment along with some great stories.  My friend Bill has just such a story in connection with his 1969 Camaro.  This is a highly sought after model and after much searching in the summer of 1999 he found one that he and his son could re-build as a father-son project.   It needed a lot of work so they tore into it right away.  It had a new engine but they pulled it to replace the automatic transmission with a Muncie 4-speed.  They pulled the seats to re-upholster them and found that the front floor plan needed to be cut out and replaced, as well as the trunk floor pan. They then also changed the rear end to a posi-traction 3:37 gear ratio and added a Flowmaster exhaust system.

BILLS1Bill didn’t have experience in body repairs or paint, so he called in a body and fender man we’ll call Rob (I chose that name on purpose) who happened to owe him some money to take care of the body and paint work.   In September of 2001 the car was hauled to Rob’s shop for all the finish work. On Friday April 5 2002, the car was almost ready and Bill and Jeff checked it out at the fenced-in shop and were told it would be ready in 3 or 4 days.  The next morning Bill got a call from Rob informing him that the car had been stolen!!!  It was immediately discovered that neither party had insurance on Bill and Jeff’s Camaro. The police were called in and the investigation began. Soon after, the police told Bill that Rob’s story just didn’t smell right and that they would keep checking it out. On Tuesday, Bill called Rob and told him he would sue him for $20,000 plus attorney fees and court costs and that he knew Rob owned a building that could be liened. Amazingly at 9:30 that night Rob called Bill and informed him that he had found the car!!! He claimed to have spent the day handing out flyers and asking people if they knew anything about the Camaro and had talked to an unnamed source outside of a parts store who told him where the car was and also where any missing parts would be.  Rob claimed that the man would not talk to police and ran off. Rob called the police and indeed the Camaro was located in an abandoned barn but many of the parts were missing.  After the police investigated and fingerprinted it, Rob hauled it back to Bill’s house.

BILLS2The next day, Bill went looking for the missing parts where the “informant” had said they would be.  He couldn’t find them but shortly thereafter Rob did find them at a nearby building and as he approached the building two men locked up and fled in two vehicles.   The police were called and when they got there Bill was asked to describe his missing parts. The officers looked into the building, decided the parts matched and went for a search warrant. After searching the interior of the building, Bill was informed he couldn’t get his parts right then since there was also a meth lab there that needed disinfecting.  Apparently the meth business and stolen car parts are compatible enterprises.  Bill was able to go back the next day and as he picked up his stolen parts others were there doing the same.  By Saturday Bill had all of his parts back at his house—surely an exciting seven days.

As long as the car was in pieces, Bill did some extra work on the front end, frame, etc. It took him six months to get it back together and then it had to go to the body and paint shop (a different one of course) to be finished.  Bill’s had this beautiful 1969 Camaro in one piece now for over 10 years and he’ll never forget the experience he and his son had with it. You can bet that this car and its story will be with Bill and Jeff for a VERY long time.

Update:  Last year I helped Bill buy a home in the Woodinville area and he has just completed his new shop and will have the Camaro safe and sound at home any day now.

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