There are few types of criminals as loathsome as a car thief. Unfortunately, many neer-do-wells have helped make car theft one of the most popular crimes in America, though new technology has made it ever more difficult. Forty years ago though, all you needed was a screw driver and a knife to bust into a car and hotwire it. Years later, stolen cars are still being uncovered, and sometimes these once-stolen cars can lead to serious consequences for unsuspecting purchasers.
The Buffalo News reports that the buyer of a 1966 Corvette who invested over $75,000 into restoring the car has won a settlement against the man who sold him the car, even though that guy had no idea it was stolen in the first place.
Robert Ernst bought the ‘66 Corvette from Ronald Ellis for around $50,000. Ernst then sank another $75,000 into restoring the car to concours perfection, only there was one small problem. At an Ontario car show, the judges discovered that the VIN tag was not the original, disqualifying Ernst and causing him some serious angst.
Ernst found out that the Corvette had been stolen soon after being first sold, and while it was recovered, it was recovered without its VIN tags. The car was sold several times after that, and someone produced a false VIN for the Corvette. Eventually it came into Ellis’s posession, and he sold it to Ernst. Ernst sued Ellis and won, winning an undisclosed amount of money that he says made him feel “whole” on the car.
Ellis claims innocence, and judging by the number of times the car was sold, he was probably the victim of bad luck. He will avoid jail time thanks to the settlement, but it’s hard not to feel bad for the guy just a little bit.