'Grieving' owner gets stolen VW back after 40 years

Last updated 10:54 27/02/2014
The 1965 Volkswagen Beetle that was stolen 40 years ago in Tennessee after it was recovered in Detroit.
US Customs and Border Protection

BEETLING AROUND: The 1965 Volkswagen Beetle that was stolen 40 years ago in Tennessee after it was recovered in Detroit.

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A man whose 1965 Volkswagen Beetle was stolen nearly 40 years ago and recently recovered in Detroit says he never stopped grieving for the red convertible that he had running "slick as a ribbon" before it was stolen.

Joe MacDonald of Knoxville, Tennessee, said he used to buy Beetles to fix up and sell. Now he hopes to be able to get this one back and fix it up as well.

"I already envision myself going to the lake house in my convertible," he said in a phone interview yesterday. "There's nothing I can't fix on a Volkswagen."

The car, now painted white, was found in January when US border agents checked the paperwork as it was about to be shipped overseas for restoration. MacDonald said he learned the car had been located from a reporter at WBIR-TV. US Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ken Hammond said the current owner is a Michigan resident who did not know the Beetle had been stolen decades ago.

MacDonald has contacted Customs and Border Protection about getting the car back. He says they are sending him a form to fill out. Knoxville police confirmed in an email that MacDonald was the owner of the Beetle when it was stolen in 1974.

MacDonald said that before the car was stolen he had replaced the engine and some other parts with those from a nearly new Super Beetle that had been wrecked.

"I had a nice little ride there. That's probably why it lasted so long," he said. "I had it in really good shape."

MacDonald said he threw the registration in a box of papers long ago and did not even know that he still had it. When he heard the Beetle had been found, he said a little prayer to Saint Anthony and began looking for the paperwork.

"It was right there on top practically," he said. "That shocked me almost as much as them finding the car."

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- AP

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