According to a report from AP, an American man who bought an Austin Healey 3000 in 1967, and had it stolen in 1970, spotted it on eBay.

Robert Russell, 66, said he had been periodically checking the internet for years on the off-chance it would turn up again. He said, "The fact that the car still exists is improbable - it could have been junked or wrecked."

He still had the key to the car and the original title certificate (the US equivalent to a V5 document) log book. He contacted the police, who found that the registration number had been entered incorrectly on the police records. Once that had been corrected, the police could impound the car from the dealer who was selling it and return it to its rightful owner.

The selling dealer said they had bought it from someone who said it had been in his family since 1970.

Mr. Russell has brought the car to Texas where he now lives. It was being sold in California, having originally been stolen from Philadelphia. He says the car has great sentimental value, as he started dating the woman who is now his wife in that car. He says "It still runs, but the brakes don't work well," he said. "We're going to put it back the way it was."

The car has apparently been valued at €23,000 (£14,815). With work it might be worth a lot more – a top Austin Healey 3000 can easily fetch £40,000 in the UK (or nearly a million pounds if it has a particularly grisly history). After all, the fact that this one has only ever had one legal owner must be worth something.