ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An Albuquerque man has invested a lot of time and money into his passion of restoring vintage vehicles. However, Tuesday he arrived to work heartbroken after someone drove off in his prized possession.
For more than a decade, a local shop owner has pieced together a custom 1976 Chevy pickup. He had big plans for it until Tuesday.
“This is what you have to go through when you restore a vehicle,” explained Daniel Flores, President of Quick Transmission and Automotive on Menaul and Morris. He pointed to a work in progress inside his shop.
Restoring and customizing vintage vehicles is a passion for Flores. “It’s like bringing the dead back to life, with improvements, and that’s the joy,” Flores told KRQE News 13.
He invested 15 years and $75,000 into a 1976 Chevrolet half-ton pickup. But when he left for work Friday and returned Tuesday morning, the truck was gone.
“The last time I saw it, it was parked right here,” he said, pointing to a spot behind his shop’s garage.
Flores has worked on cars at the same location in northeast Albuquerque for 25 years and never had one stolen.
However, he admits, the keys were left in the truck. “You’re kicking yourself,” said Flores.
He said the truck is sentimental. He planned to save it for his grandchild.
Flores tore it apart and brought it back to life with all custom parts.
“You know, a lot of years, over a decade restoring a vehicle, just to see it taken away, I think it hits home,” Flores explained.
By showing the public the truck’s unique green paint job, and Route 66 license plate of ‘0-1-4-3,’ Flores hopes someone can help bring it home. He also hopes part of his life’s work won’t end up in some chop-shop.
“The whole truck is customized, it’s a rare, big block truck. They didn’t make a lot of them, but this one’s very special,” he said, referring to the ’76 Chevy.
For now, Flores said restoring a red 1961 Ford Galaxy Starliner will probably be his last big restoration project.
“I’m getting too old for this stuff,” he told KRQE News 13.
Another shop owner next door to Flores said he had a car stolen from his lot a couple weeks ago. KRQE News 13 asked nearby businesses if they caught surveillance video of the theft, but so far, no such luck.
Anyone with information is asked to call Albuquerque Police.