Dan the Chrysler fan and I used to work at the same company. He used to have a late 60s Barracuda and loved to ask/tell me Mopar trivia. About six or seven years ago he bought a 2007 Dodge Magnum RT. This was the so-called long roof, or shooting brake design. The car was silver with black interior. It was beautiful. It had the RT option which meant it came with the 5.7 “Hemi” V8. It had very low miles, and if I remember right, it was the personal car of the local Dealer principal. The car seemed perfect, showroom fresh.
Danny loved that car and was quite protective of it. He would park it in the very last row of the parking lot to avoid door dings. I would tease him by calling it the old station wagon, but it really was very nice. Not only was he was a stickler for maintenance, the Magnum was always garage kept. On rainy days Danny would even towel dry the car when he got home. He kept it mostly original. I think the only modification was a tasteful “MOPAR” sticker across the top of the window. He kept changing his mind about getting aftermarket wheels, he did not want to deviate from stock.
Now the details of what happened next are sketchy. At first, Danny did not want to talk about all this, so I only got bits and pieces of this story from people in his department.
One Friday night Danny and his wife went out to dinner. The place they picked was a fancy restaurant on the beach with valet parking. They each had drinks and decided the right thing to do was to wait a while before driving. The restaurant was on the water, so they decided to go for a nice stroll along the beach.
You know what happened next. The get back to the valet stand and there is no car, no keys. They can’t find their little claim stub. The valet thinks they are at the wrong restaurant until they produce the receipt from dinner – correct restaurant. The police are called. Danny is distraught.
The cop was slow getting there, then asked if he missed any payments (it was paid for). They filled out a police report and he called his insurance company. The Magnum’s VIN went into the state crime database. He asked them to put out a BOLO or something, but the cop said they didn’t do that. The cop told him to relax, probably some high school kids just went for a joyride. He didn’t understand why an older Dodge was so important. Danny’s wife was supportive, but no one else really understood. Danny loved that car. The background on Danny’s computer screen at work was that car.
At first, Dan was checking Ebay, and also checking VINs if he saw a Magnum parked somewhere. He settled with the insurance company, but got much less than he thought it was worth (He bought a Chrysler 300C). After a while I suppose he forgot about the Magnum.
Two years later, it is the summer of 2013 and the story is far from over.
Dan gets a cryptic, weird phone call from some dispatcher in Jefferson County, Alabama (Birmingham area). She says something like “Your car has an expired tag that doesn’t match, blah blah blah.” “Your friend driving was taken to jail on a warrant for something unrelated. If you want your car, you’ll have to pay the impound fees and the citation for the tag.” Danny thinks – wrong number. He says “I don’t live in Alabama and I don’t know what you’re talking about!” He was just about to hang up when the lady says “Your 2007 Dodge.”
They didn’t have a record that the car was stolen! He wanted to know more about the car: Was it damaged? Did it run? Did it drive? What about his insurance company? They didn’t have any answers – none at all. The couldn’t answer a single question. He had to fax them the original police report so they could enter it in their system.
Dan flew to Birmingham. He had his paperwork along with the second key (wife’s) that he had never thrown away. Lots of questions were going through his head. Danny found the impound yard, but the guy at the window was not cooperating. Finally, he got inside, and showed the paper trail. Of course, Danny did not recognize the mugshot of the driver who was arrested. He claimed he “Just borrowed the car from a friend.” The insurance company allowed him to take possession of the car. The impound yard even let him take his car. They were going to work out the details with the insurance company later.
They showed him a back door to the yard itself, and gave him directions. He walked to the row where it was supposed to be. But it was not there. The funny thing is, he sees a pink Magnum donk, but not his car. He turns to leave, and then stops. He turns back around and stares. He walks over to this donk. It is bright metallic pink. Really. Bright. Pink. It has 30 inch rims and fake “Buick-style” vents in the fender. Slowly, he pulls out his old key. He slides the key into the lock cylinder. It turns easily. He opens the door. The interior is a mix of pink and white leather. There are dozens of speakers installed everywhere. He sits in the driver’s seat, turns the key, the engine starts.
All the mechanical parts seemed stock and unmolested. The car ran fine. He paid a friend with a trailer to go up and get it and bring it home. When I saw it I said: “At least you got the upsized wheels you wanted.” Another friend told him he didn’t have to worry about parking lot dings anymore – the doors were up too high.