Heartbreak after antique cars stolen from garage

7:16 AM, Jul 14, 2011   |    comments
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Wimauma, Florida --  A 1925 Ford coupe stolen out of Ronald Moore's garage is more than just a car. 

It's a holder of memories of a friend who restored the classic two door vehicle more than a decade ago before he died from cancer.

Photos: Stolen Antique Car

"Every time I got in that car, I had a smile on my face because I would see Charlie.  It was definitely his car.  People would say it's your car and I'd say no, it's Charlie's car, I just happen to be the one driving it," Moore told 10 News from his vacation home in Vermont.

Moore says he bought the 1929 Ford from his friend Charlie Riddle about 9 years ago when Riddle decided to buy a more spacious 1947 Mercury.

But, everyone in the antique car circuit knew the 1929 Ford was Riddle's first love.

"Him and his wife loved that car.  They spent a lot of time in that car, they toured a lot with it, took it to a lot of shows," recalled Jim Peters with Realistic Auto Restorations in St. Petersburg.

He recalled the time he Riddle first called him up to help him restore the classic.

"The car was stripped all the way down to bare metal.  We added a lot of custom features, a third brake light, it's got a Chevy V8 engine in it, did all the custom paint work,' explained Peters.

It took close to a year, but the wait was worth it.  The car not only had air conditioning, but power steering and power windows and a fresh coat of 'Plymouth Prowler Purple", all specially selected by Riddle.

"We probably had about three hundred man hours in that car," said Peters.

More than money was put into that car.  There was also a lot of heart and soul poured into it, so when news came that the car and Moore's 1975 blue Chevy Corvette had been stolen right out of his garage, there was a lot of anger.

"Terrible.  Absolutely terrible, especially as I keep saying, it's because I knew what that car meant to Charles when he had it built and for somebody to just steal it, it's kind of heart breaking," said Peters.

Moore is equally as heartbroken.  While the thieves also ransacked his home and stole his appliances and electronics, it's the theft of the 1929 Ford that bothers him most.

"The dollar value is not as important.  First of all, to build another one would probably be next to impossible, but it is definitely impossible to have a car built with the memories I have," said Moore.

He says he and Riddle would often work on the car together and take it to car shows before he bought it from him.

They even had an agreement for Moore to take the car to his vacation home in Vermont where he took it to car shows throughout the Northeast.  In fact, he says the only reason he brought the 1929 Ford back to Florida was to show with the current owner of  Riddle's 1947 Mercury.

It's a reunion of sorts.

He never imagined thieves would break into his home and steal the cars.

While the 1975 convertible Corvette is unique in itself since it's the last year the convertible was made and has two tops, a soft top and a removable hardtop with vinyl, it doesn't hold the same value in his heart.

"I can buy another Corvette, even if you can find someone to build another street rod like the 29, it would never have the sentimental value," said Moore.

Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering  cash reward for information leading to the suspects and the cars.

You can remain anonymous by calling 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report anonymously online at crimestopperstb.com, or text "CSTB plus your tip" to C-R-I-M-E. (274637).

The crime occurred in Wimauma on July 7th.

The 1929 purple 2 door Ford Coupe has a Florida tag number: SRO5474.

The 1975 blue Chevrolet Corvette has a Florida tag number: BD4948.

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Laura Kadechka

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