Anyone reading this knows the sentiment involved with car ownership. Whether it's your first, your best, your most reliable, or your fastest, most every car nut can name the vehicle that forced them into this crazy hobby. And isn't it true that so many times we mark a life event with what we were driving at the time? The car you left your wedding reception in, the car you brought your firstborn home in, the car you took on a road trip to the Grand Canyon - they all seem to personalize our life stories. Keith Ingersoll knows all about those feelings and has recently begun the quest for reuniting loving past owners with the automobiles that most impacted their lives.
Growing up, Ingersoll's father, Gerald, was an amateur drag racer with a deep love for his own muscle car. But as is often the case, having a family meant surrendering his pride and joy in order to provide for his family, so it was sold and picked up by two men in 1979 when Keith was only 6-years old. Even as a young child, Keith understood the reality of the situation and how it affected his dad.
"To this day, I still get choked up talking about it. It's difficult to overestimate how indelible a mark the car made on me and him. I remember him looking kind of ashen. He knew that he had to sell it, but he didn't want to do it," he said.
Now, at seventy-years old, Gerald holds on to those memories of cruising open roads and the power and freedom of it all. Keith knew that his father could not be the only one feeling such emptiness over a beloved car, so twelve years ago he created a website called The Lost Car Registry. Basically, you can post information about your lost car for help from other enthusiasts in finding it. To date, over 4,000 users have posted seeking their old cars or even posting their current cars' VIN numbers to aid others in their searches. A total of 459 cars have been located as per the counter on the website.
To scroll the list is to find a growing number of classics, including: a 1968 Firebird that was owned by Michael Plemmons of Charlotte, North Carolina from 1984-1986 and a '59 Pontiac 2-door hardtop sold in 1961 in Maryland. The list is endless.
Keith is so invested in the search and what it means to feel that sense of longing, that he has personally stepped up to offer assistance in a number of cases. He has succeeded in a few of them, reuniting cars with owners thousands of miles apart. He is so passionate about his work that he is in the negotiating stages of a television pilot with Paul de Souza, an executive director.
Unfortunately, the Ingersoll's lost car has not yet been located.
"My dad has had a great life, and he'll be the first to admit it. But there was a certain wild carefreeness to the life that he had when he was in his 20s," he says. "To see that car one last time, he would be 27 again-certainly not physically, but emotionally. I think it would come back to him in a heartbeat."
We certainly hope that with the help of fellow enthusiasts, Gerald will soon experience that same feeling of freedom back in the seat of his cherished muscle car.