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Stolen vintage Okanagan hot rod recovered safe and sound

A rare, vintage hot rod that was recently stolen from a home in Osoyoos has turned up safe and sound in Oliver, B.C. following a public plea on social media. The Okanagan family put out a call online for any information about the two-toned 1939 Willys sedan after it was stolen on Jan. 27. Police said last night a family friend recovered the car after following up an anonymous tip. The car is the hobby and passion of Peter Pfannenschmidt. “My father found this car 35 years ago in a field with a tree growing through it. He hauled it out of there and has been working on it ever since,” said his daughter, Vanessa Pfannenschmidt. She said her dad put countless hours and thousands of dollars into repairing the vintage vehicle. He finally finished the car this summer, but last week it vanished from his Osoyoos home while he was away on vacation.

‘2nd time I’ve ever heard him cry’

“I’ve obviously known my dad my whole life which is 28 years and this is only the second time I’ve ever heard him cry,” she said.

“He tried to tell me what had happened through his tears and it was the most heartbreaking thing.”

“I was just devastated. It’s like somebody stole my dream,” said Peter Pfannenschmidt from San Carlos, Mexico.

The 1939 two-door Willys is considered one-of-a-kind with all of its upgrades and unique two-tone paint job. Peter painted it green because it was his daughter’s favourite colour. (Vanessa Pfannenschmidt)

Police said thieves broke into the home, left empty beer cans littered around the house, then stole both the hod rod and the family vehicle.

Various tips that came in online said the hot rod was spotted in the Creston, B.C. area and in Lethbridge, Alta., but it actually turned up late Monday night in Oliver only a few kilometres from where it was stolen.

Police said a family friend met up with someone who had the vehicle, then called police.

Police don’t know the identity of the person who first contacted the family with the tip on where the car was located.

“I think that enough buzz picked up and somebody decided that they wanted to get it back to us,” said Vanessa Pfannenschmidt.

Support from South Africa, Europe

She said the car was found on a trailer without any snow on it, and she believes it may have been parked in a garage.

The car has some minor damage but overall “it looks to be okay; it definitely has four wheels, an engine and a body,” she said.

Peter is crediting the public and Facebook for the car’s safe return.

“At first it was devastating, but with the help of social media, I got calls from South Africa, Europe, all over the States. People saying ‘hey, I know how you feel, I sure hope you get the car back.’

“All the guys that are car crazy answered.”

Peter  Pfannenschmidt said with all of the vehicle’s personal touches “it’s not just a car, it’s kind of a dream come true.”

Osoyoos RCMP will inspect the vehicle Tuesday before returning it to the family.

Vanessa plans to put the car “somewhere nice and safe and love it until dad comes back from Mexico.”

Peter said he plans to celebrate with “mucho cervezas.”

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