In 2012, a vintage red Mustang with white race stripes pulled away from a wedding with cans rattling in tow. Bearing the words "Just Married," the fully restored Ford sports car carried a newly wed couple.
Five years later, Dave Marsland stood over his 1966 Mustang, the same one his son had driven for his wedding. The front panels had been sheared from the frame, the fenders and rear bumper stripped, wires hung below the steering wheel, loose where the thief had hotwired the car.
"It could be worse," he said Friday, shaking his head.
Marsland, 66, discovered the theft on the morning of July 4, having returned the night before from a family trip. His tools were scattered around the garage in Lyons, the stereo had been torn from one of his other cars and his prized Mustang was missing. Police recovered the car in Salem early Friday morning.
But Marsland was right, it could've been worse, if not for a Facebook post by his son which detailed the theft and garnered more than 34,000 shares.
"He has been working on this car for years, so it is very special to him," wrote Marsland's son, Jordan, in the July 4 post.
Comments flowed in from car collectors around the country, sympathizing and keeping eyes peeled for the missing vehicle. Within days, a person who'd seen the vehicle provided information as to its whereabouts.
“We thank all the people who responded and were looking out for us," said Marsland.
Police called around 2 a.m. Friday morning to share the news.
“I was very happy. I didn’t care what time it was, I was gonna go down there," said Marsland. "With something like that you never know if you’ll ever see it again.”
Marsland bought the Mustang in Burbank, California, in 2002. It wasn't quite as described on eBay, but Marsland wanted a project. He flew to Burbank and drove the car up to Salem.
“50 miles an hour, the whole trip. I was afraid to go much faster," he said.
With the help of a mechanic friend, Marsland restored the Mustang. He drove it daily, for a time. And then began only taking it out for car shows with his sons and other special occasions.
He's taken a step back in his restoration this week, but Marsland is just happy it was found, because the memories tied to the car can't be replaced.
“You see the transformation, having it for so long, doing a little bit at a time," he said.
Marsland said that the car may have been valued at around $25,000 before the theft.
Dale Matthews, owner of vintage car dealer Memory Lane Motors in Portland, understands the different value that a collector car can hold — and the pain of losing one for good.
“It would be a heartbreaking thing," said Matthews. “To me, that guy’s Mustang didn’t mean anything more than fair market value. To him, it meant three times that much.”
The Linn County Sheriff's department is investigating at least one suspect, but Marsland isn't concerned with retribution. After seeing his red Mustang in battered shape at the tow yard, he was ready to begin rebuilding — and he hopes the thief will, too.
“Believe it or not, we’ve actually prayed for the people that did this, because they need their lives changed too," said Marsland. "My ideal scenario is: get my car fixed and that kid gets his life fixed.”
If you have information regarding the theft of the Marsland's Mustang, you can contact the Linn County Sheriff's office at 541-967-3950.