When Charles Estelle's father bought his 1977 Corvette, the youngster was only 7 or 8 — small enough that he had to sit on a pillow to see out the windows.

And when the car broke down one day, his father handed the teenager the keys and said, "If you can fix it, it's yours," recalled Estelle, now 39.

He got the car running himself, but as he started a family, the Vette "did a lot of sitting," he said.

The Thurmont, Maryland, man recently came to York County to get the car a fresh paint job before it underwent some engine work from Corey Bollinger of Paradise Township.

After visiting Ohio over the Easter holiday, Bollinger said, he came back on Wednesday, April 8, to find the car missing from outside his personal garage.

Towed away?: After Bollinger came back, he texted Estelle to make sure he didn't send anyone to pick up the car, Estelle said.

"As soon as you get a message like that, your heart stops," Estelle said.

Estelle said he reported the stolen car to Northern York County Regional Police, but it has not yet been found. Lt. David Lash confirmed the department received the report on April 10 and is investigating.

"We are running down possible leads on the vehicle," he said, although he couldn't provide details of the active investigation.

A personalized license plate — SUNKSD, for the car's "sun-kissed" orange hue — was ready to go on the car, but wasn't attached at the time of the theft, Estelle said.

The Vette wasn't driveable, so it must have been towed away — and its hood was off when it was stolen, he said.

"This car was probably about two months from being road-ready," Estelle said.

Clues: Bollinger, who does mechanic work on the side, said he has suspicions about who stole the Corvette, as only a few people knew he was out of town.

His garage is up a dirt lane and probably a mile off the main road, so the car wasn't visible from the street, he said.

"It's not something that just somebody can drive by and look and see it — somebody had to know it was there," Bollinger said.

Out of about 15 other cars near the garage — including one with the keys in the ignition — nothing else was out of place, he said.

"It seems very suspicious that it just happened to go missing," Bollinger said. "It needs to be found."

Sightings: A couple of people have reported seeing the classic car, including one man who lives down the street and says he saw it leaving on a black trailer pulled by a late-model body style pickup truck, he said.

Estelle's post to the Frederick County Corvette Club's Facebook page has generated more than 2,300 shares about his missing car.

The classic car might have looked good, but he said it's more than a car; it's a part of him.

"I'm hoping somebody's seen something," Estelle said. "It's kind of hard to miss a bright-orange Corvette."

If you spot the missing 1977 Corvette, call Northern York County Regional Police at (717) 292-3647.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at

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