Keith Parmer of Holt said he was in disbelief when found his box trailer empty outside a motel Sunday morning. The locks had been cut, its ramp lowered and the car gone, according to a police report.
"If I don't find this car and I lose this car, I don't think I can do it again," he said. "Somebody's taking a big part of who I am that I'll never get back."
Parmer, 48, said he fell in love with muscle cars while growing up in the 1970s. He and his wife bought the Chevelle for less than $20,000 in 2008. He estimates he spent $300,000 on parts and labor to restore and upgrade it — including a new engine, a custom-made polished intake manifold made of aluminum and a custom-made trunk and interior.
"That's one of the things that's driven me all these years to work so hard," he said. "My love for cars."
Parmer, who works as a car dealer, brought the car from his home near Lansing for last weekend's Goodguys 3rd Speedway Nationals car show at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
At least one other classic car, a 1949 Chevrolet, and two trucks were stolen from hotel parking lots overnight Saturday.
Jonathan Klinger, a spokesman for Traverse City-based classic auto insurer Hagerty, said it's common for such cars to reach a price tag of $300,000, mostly because of the restoration process.
"While that's certainly a lot of money, it's not unlikely for someone to have that kind of money wrapped around a project like that," he said.
Parmer is offering a $10,000 reward.
"You can't process it. You're just numb," he said. "Driving home, I couldn't think straight. It's like a bad dream. It's comparable to someone close to me dying."