Stolen 1957 Bel Air Recovered—after 30 years!

View Full Gallery

In 1984, Ian “Skip” Wilson’s ’57 Chevy Bel Air was stolen from his Northern California garage. In early February, he got it back—restored!

In the three decades after it was reported stolen, it changed hands four times, was restored with a powdercoated frame, a 350-inch small-block, plus rack-and-pinion steering and other upgrades. It was in a shipping container at the Port of Los Angeles, bound for Australia, when U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents, doing a routine VIN search, spotted it.

“There's all kinds of chrome added under the hood,” Skip told The Press-Democrat of Santa Rosa, California. “The headers look brand spankin' new, (and) the tires, they look like they haven't even been around the block.”

Skip’s ’57 was stolen twice from his Clearlake Oaks, California, garage—the first time in ’83, when it was recovered minus engine and transmission, then again the next year.

Now—after paying $900 for shipping home—it’s back. “Somebody put a whole lot of work and money into that car,” Skip told The Press-Democrat, adding, “I imagine somebody in Australia must be awful upset.”

And the California Department of Motor Vehicles—who transferred the title to this car four times after it was reported stolen—has some explaining to do.

MORE PHOTOS

VIEW FULL GALLERY

COMMENTS

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print
TO TOP