Janice Maffucci had given up on ever seeing her 1969 Chevy Camaro SS again. After all, it was stolen back in 1975.
So when California cops called recently to tell her they'd found the hot rod, she hung up on them a few times, thinking it was a prank.
"I never thought that this would ever happen," Maffucci said.
But it did, and here's how: In February, Keith Williams, a car enthusiast from Santa Maria, Calif., bought the classic muscle car on eBay from a Tennessee seller for $28,000. But he soon noticed some features that he knew were inconsistent with the original model. For instance, the original six-cylinder engine had been replaced with a 427 V-8, and other parts seem to come from different sources.
So Williams contacted the California Highway Patrol (CHP). CHP officers used identifying numbers on the car to find its original VIN number. And when they ran the number, they found that it matched the one for a butternut yellow Camaro stolen in Newark, New Jersey -- on July 8, 1975.
The cops called Maffucci, who was listed as the owner. She told them the car had been stolen from outside the post office where her father worked.
"I still can't believe it, but I think it's just great," Maffucci told KSBY, a local California TV station. She said she plans on selling it, though Williams is no longer interested in buying.
Williams had insured the purchase, so he'll get his money back, though not the $875 he paid to transport the car. Still, he said it's worth it. "I got a great story to tell my grand-kids," he told the TV station.
The CHP is still working to try to find out who might have stolen the car.
The 1969 Chevy holds an almost iconic place in American muscle-car culture. The narrator of "Racing in the Streets," Bruce Springsteen's 1978 ballad about a washed-up New Jersey drag racer, drives a "'69 Chevy with a 396, fuelie heads, and a Hurst on the floor." And a rival is said to drive a Camaro.
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