Detroit is known as The Motor City. For 33 years, one Detroit man was living in Motor City without his favorite car after it had been stolen from him in his youth.
George Talley‘s 1979 Corvette was the apple of his eye. George had always had an affinity to the Corvette, in part because he loved how they sounded and how they looked, and in larger part because he loved the way the ladies flocked to him when he drove one. Unfortunately, there was one group of admirers more attracted to the corvettes than the ladies – the thieves.
George last saw his prized Corvette on Jefferson Ave. in Detroit back in June of 1981. George filed a police report and hoped for the best, but it was 33 years before his missing car would find its way back to him, and due in large part to some pretty incredible coincidences, happenstances, and good old fashion human kindness.
To say that George was astounded when he received a phone call from AAA one Friday night in 2014 was an understatement. “And I get a call from AAA telling me, “You have a Corvette in Mississippi. Come get it.” The car had been recovered due in part to phony VIN numbers, and the police had recovered the car in good running condition with only 47,000 miles on the odometer. George was thrilled beyond belief, but was also confounded as to how he was going to get the car from Mississippi to Detroit.
That’s when a little human kindness stepped in
After a news report by a Detroit ABC affiliate did a story on George and his car, GM contacted George and offered to have the car returned to him on their dime. General Motors contacted George and offered to have the car shipped directly to George at his home in Detroit. Mark Reuss, the Executive VP of GM Product Development was touched by George’s story, as well as his love of the car. “When you see a customer, and someone as loyal and interested in corvettes and the product, you know there’s still passion and emotion in automobiles.”
At the age of 71, the Vietnam Veteran remains as passionate and intrigued by cars and corvettes in particular. George had owned four corvettes over the course of his lifetime, including the one stolen in 1981. While some say that if you’ve driven one corvette, you’ve driven them all, George would kindly agree to disagree. While he has driven other corvettes before, this car represented more than four wheels and an engine; it represented a blessing. “I was just excited that it started. This is the key, and it started. I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed, really. This is really something that is a blessing to me. To get it back and have it at this stage of the game, it’s a blessing.”
The car was returned in relatively good condition, and in good working order. In addition to racking up only a few thousand miles over the 33 year away from its rightful owner, the last occupant also left behind a tape for George’s listening pleasure, though George was confident that the woman singing in the tape hadn’t been born when the car had been made.
While the car was in decent shape, GM offered to return the car to its original condition for George in honor of his patience and brand loyalty. George graciously accepted the offer, but requested that before the changes be made, he got the chance to see the corvette in the original condition.
May car and driver have another many happy decades on the road together.
WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7 (Jun 24, 2014) – “STOLEN CAR: Corvette Returned to Man After 33 Years”
WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7 (Jun 25, 2014) – “GM offers to bring stolen Corvette back home
“WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7 (Jul 1, 2014) – “Stolen Corvette returned to owner after 33 years”