James, A True Story
It was 1987, and my wife had seen a 1961 Mercedes 190db ponton that a business friend of mine had for sale.  She fell in love with it and, after a little negotiation, we bought it.
My friend had purchased it locally from the original owner, who was a retired military man, who had purchased it new while stationed in Japan in 1961. Unfortunately, all the original documents and service records that were in the car were lost over the years.  My wife had appropriately named the Mercedes “JAMES.”  For a year, we drove James everywhere – Sacramento to Los Angeles on a tank of fuel, every weekend to Tahoe in the snow.  Then my wife and I parted company.  Since she loved James so much, and I had other projects going on, she kept James.  
Fast forward to 1992.  I had not seen or spoken to my former wife since 1988.  I needed to get in touch with her for some business information.  When she returned my call, the first thing I asked her was, “How is James?”   She laughed and said that James was for sure beer cans by now.  She had junked him!! JAMES CRUSHED!  I was crushed.  It was like I had lost a good friend.
Fast forward again to 1997.  I was traveling from Fresno to Sacramento on business when I stopped at a wrecking yard in Madera, California, that I had not been to before. I was always working on some project, so visiting wrecking yards was always on the list of things to do.  So, I was walking through this wrecking yard when I heard,  “Hey, over here!”  I looked around and saw that there was no one there.  Then, again, I heard, “Hey, over here!”  There was a 10-foot steel fence separating an adjoining wrecking yard.  I managed to scale the fence enough to barely look over.  There was James looking at me with his hood and trunk open.  He was all in one piece, except, of course, his Mercedes and grill emblems were gone.  The last time I saw James was almost 10 years before and 400 miles away.  
“James, it can’t be you, you were crushed years ago.”  Hanging there by my fingertips, I knew James was saying, “GET ME OUT OF HERE!”  I jumped down, ran out of the wrecking and into the one next door.  I inquired about the black Mercedes in their yard.  The counter guy said that I could not go out in the yard, because the cars out in the yard were being crushed to make room for new inventory.  I had to think fast.  I was NOT going to let this happen.  I told the counter guy that my ex-wife had stolen the car from me years ago (sorry, Jennifer).  What were they going to do about it?  The guy looked at me, one eyebrow raised, and said, “Prove it.”  I remembered that I always had kept James’s chassis number in my wallet.  I whipped out my wallet, dumping credit cards and years of stuff on the counter, and found the chassis number.  I said, “Here, go check.”  He sent one of the yard workers out to check the numbers.  He came back and nodded to the counter guy, who looked at me and said, “Well, what do you want to do?”  I said, “I WANT IT BACK!  How much do you want for it?”  He was feeling sorry for me by now, and telling everyone that worked there how I got burned.  He checked with his bookkeeper, came back and said, “I’ve got $375.00 into it.  You can have it for that.”  It could have been $3,000!  I didn’t care!  “But it needs to be today.  Tomorrow it will be gone.”  I didn’t have $375.00 on me, but they took AMEX. (Don’t leave home without it.)  About ten minutes later, James was mine again.
I made a trip to the closest U-Haul, rented a car hauler, and, about an hour later, James was on his way home. The wreckers had James for only about 90 days, so his whereabouts for six or seven years and how he evaded the crusher the first time remains a mystery, and he’s not talking. Probably still traumatized...  Today, James resides in northern California with me, awaiting restoration and sharing space with his two-wheeled buddy “Harley” in a climate-controlled garage.  Oh, yes, James runs, is roadworthy, and is very happy.