Detroit native George Talley’s 1979 Corvette was stolen 33 years ago and recovered last year in Mississippi. In an act of kindness, General Motors executives who heard of the recovery, offered to bring the car back home to Mr. Talley and restore it on his behalf. With the GM Heritage Center, in conjunction with Autometric Body Shop in Center Line, MI taking over the responsibilities of restoring Mr. Talley’s Corvette, we provided an update for him to review at the progress ahead of its official reveal at the Woodward Dream Cruise on August 15, 2015.

Detroit, Michigan - George Talley has loved Corvettes since he first saw a neighbour's first-generation 'Vette in the 1950s.

Now 71 and a grandfather, he's owned four of them over the years, but always says that his all-time favourite was his first one, a silver-grey 1979 C3. He wasn't alone; production peaked that year at 53 807, a record that stands to this day.

Sadly, other eyes also coveted Talley's pride and joy; in July 1981 it was stolen from Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit.

And that was that - until he got a call from Hattiesburg, Mississippi in June 2014, saying the 'Vette had re-surfaced when somebody tried to register it, and a discrepancy on the VIN number led local authorities to do a background checked on the car.

It was ratty but running, they said, with only 47 000 miles (75 000km) on the clock and, since he'd reported it stolen at the time but never filed an insurance claim, it still belonged to him and would he please come and take it away.

That was easier said than done from the other end of the country, so he had it towed to a police station in Mississippi and wrote to GM, telling them the story and asking for help sourcing parts.


Executive vice-president for GM product development Mark Reuss took up the story: "As a longtime Corvette owner myself, I know the passion these cars inspire," he said.

"He's been a GM customer forever - and he's an army veteran. We owe a lot to these people and we've gotta give back."

So he wrote back offering to ship the ‘Vette back to Detroit and restore it to as-new condition.

The GM Heritage Centre, with help from Auto Metric Body Shop in Centre Line, Michigan, spent hundreds of hours over a period of about six weeks replacing rusted metal components, fitting a complete new interior and respraying the body in metallic silver.

"It was a little rough," admitted Chevrolet marketing manager John FitzPatrick. "It was stolen, so it wasn't exactly taken care of."

Finally, on 14 August, Talley came to the Heritage Centre to drive away in his long-lost Corvette with his seven-year-old grandson alongside him - and it was difficult to say which was the more excited.

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