A Corvette 33 Years Lost — And Found Without An Answer Why

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In a story that might have been found in a Hollywood script, a Detroit retiree has discovered his Corvette — 33 years after he reported it stolen. Exactly where it's been all this time remains a mystery.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And now a car story that sounds like it was meant for a movie script. Here's the opening scene - a phone is ringing. George Talley, a 71-year-old retiree in Detroit, picks it up.

GEORGE TALLEY: I got a call from the AAA insurance company, and they said, did you ever own a 1979 Corvette? And I said yes. And they said, well, we found it. I said, what?

BLOCK: That call came two weeks ago.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Talley's silver-gray sports car had turned up 33 years after he reported it stolen. Exactly where it's been all this time is a mystery. But the car recently caught the attention of police because of a vehicle identification number.

BLOCK: A law-enforcement database flagged the unique ID as, all of a sudden, no longer unique. Here's Detective Eric Darling of the Michigan State Police.

ERIC DARLING: There were two Corvettes attempting to be registered under the same VIN number.

CORNISH: One of those Corvettes was obviously registered under a bogus number. Investigators tracked that car down to an address in Mississippi.

BLOCK: It was in the possession of a man who thought he was the legitimate owner. The Corvette's real owner, George Talley, explains how he heard the story from police in Mississippi.

TALLEY: When they took the car, the guy was - man, I've got a lot of money tied up in this car, you know. And police say, well, that's too bad. We're going to take it. It's not yours, it was stolen. The guy was screaming and hollering.

CORNISH: Talley got the scoop when he contacted the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. That's where he reached investigator Leo Clemons.

CLEMONS: George called me and he was like a kid at Christmas.

CORNISH: Clemons brought him up to speed on the condition of the 1979 hardtop Corvette.

CLEMONS: It's in, you know, fairly good shape, especially the outside, you know, it looks good.

BLOCK: And George Talley says he's ready to be reunited.

TALLEY: I could have a little fun with it, I think, and paint it and drive it. It's a classic car.

BLOCK: An executive with General Motors, which manufactured that classic heard Talley's story this week.

CORNISH: Talley says GM has promised to restore his Corvette and deliver it to him free of charge.

BLOCK: You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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