- Associated Press - Saturday, April 23, 2016

LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) - In June of 1981, Kevin Hedstrom drove to Colorado from Armegard, N.D., to buy his first brand new car, a 1981 301 Turbo, special edition, black and gold Pontiac Trans Am at Markley Motors in Fort Collins. After having to give the car up in 1985, they were finally reunited last week in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Kevin Hedstrom was 19 and working in the oil fields of North Dakota and the only thing he wanted was a “Smokey and the Bandit” car. The movie had come out in 1977 and Hedstrom had his eyes set on a black and gold Pontiac Trans Am, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1rkgFki).

“Back in that day, you either owned a Trans Am or wished you had one,” Hedstrom said. He knew he could get a better deal if he got away from the oil fields, and the Pontiac dealers didn’t have the one he wanted on the lot. They would have had to special order it.

Hedstrom’s siblings lived in Colorado so with two friends, he took a road trip.

“I remember pulling it off the showroom floor. It had 10 miles on and I remember driving it out there and driving it back to North Dakota,” he said. He paid $11,500.

The car now has 160,000 miles on it but it still has the same floor mats and the same rear window louvers.

After driving it for four years, he faced the reality that it wasn’t the best car for North Dakota winters.

“I had to have a four-wheel drive. That’s why it killed me to get rid of the car in 1985. I traded it on a Dodge pickup,” he said.

He moved to the Loveland area in 1990.

He hung on to all paperwork, which included the registration and the loan papers, in case he ever got the chance to look for it again. Last November, Hedstrom was going through some old paper when he stumbled across the paperwork from the car.

“I knew I had saved them but I didn’t know where they were,” he said. The Internet search only took three hours. If he got to a site that required payment, he just went to a different site.

“I actually found maintenance records dating from 2006 and then after that it showed the guy’s name,” he said. He had a name and place, St. Paul, Minnesota, so it just took one last Google search and he had a phone number.

“He could not believe I had actually located my old car,” he said of the phone call. The current owner, Gregory McCarthy, was a little reluctant at first, but then Hedstrom described the car and provided the vehicle identification number. The two came to agreement.

Hedstrom was able to find out the car only had three other owners besides him, two of whom he met. McCarthy had bought it from a friend of his, Joe, in 2000. Joe bought it in 1996.

“He said he used to do street racing with it in Minnesota,” Hedstrom said of Joe. Hedstrom was unable to locate third owner. All kept it running and all kept the floor mats.

“He said the reasons for him keeping it wouldn’t be more than me getting my car back,” Hedstrom said. The winter weather made it so he couldn’t drive out until the first week of April.

Hedstrom got his second car two years ago. Identical to the original except for the antenna and not having cruise control, it was also originally bought at Markley Motors in Fort Collins as well, but Hedstrom purchased it from the owner in Greeley.

He wanted one just like his first car to participate in the Bandit Run (thebanditrun.com) by Restore a Muscle Car out of Lincoln, Nebraska. The run started in 2007 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of “Smokey and the Bandit” and followed the same route as the main characters. He will be participating for the second year this year.

“Now that I’m involved with the Bandit Run, to get my original car back, to me, is amazing,” Hedstrom said.

His plan is to restore his original car to match the second with all the decals and pinstriping. He is not sure what else the car needs right now since he just got it back, but says all the other owners kept it pretty much in its original state.

Hedstom knew that it was a shot in the dark when he started the search and knows he beat the odds when it came to finding it in one piece. He was just happy to get to climb back in his car 31 years later.

“You never forget your first car. You’ll forget your second and third, but you never forget your first car,” he said.


Information from: Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, https://www.reporterherald.com/

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