"You take a deep breath."
Never before has Lee Pratt felt so sick and so shocked.
"I pulled in my driveway before I noticed there was an empty space here," Pratt said.
An empty space next to his home that once had a trailer, a trailer with a bright red 1969 Chevy camero inside.
"I picked this car up 17 years ago," he said.
And for the next 17 years Lee Pratt spent money and sweat to bring it alive.
"It took me a year to clean off the mildew," Pratt remembered.
Truly a labor of love, the envy of car show enthusiasts.
"It didn't happen overnight. Trust me."
Then it happened. Sometime last Friday in broad daylight somebody hooked up to the trailer and simply drove away; no witnesses, no commotion, a job that probably took only seconds to do.
"I didn't know what to do for a few minutes," Pratt said.
Pratt, of course, called police and has since been told investigators have some leads. In the meantime, Pratt has an idea why his car was targeted.
"Occasionally if I wanted to work on it, I had to bring it out," said Pratt suggesting someone knew what he had and what his schedule was.
Lee Pratt will never see his camero again. The reason is it was found burning early Wednesday morning around 1 o clock on Oak Street, some 3 miles away from Pratt's home.
When WSFA 12 News saw the camero, it was stripped and burned, nothing left but the body. The thief even stole the engine, a powerful 396. Police tell WSFA 12 News they found the trailer on April Street. Unlike the car the trailer was not burned.
What hurts is the fact that Lee Pratt has spent 25 years in the Alabama National Guard and came back a year ago after his third tour of duty in the war on terror. Fighting for Americans he says, and yet presumably an ugly American took his treasure away.
"I wonder if I'm too old to start over," Pratt wondered.
17 years of hard work, thousands of dollars worth of labor and parts gone up in flames. Pratt had no insurance on the car because he says it was too expensive, and thought maybe it was covered under his homeowner's insurance. Yet the dollar loss will never add up to the real loss, the intangibles of refurbishing a classic.
"It took blood, sweat and tears to build that car," Pratt said.
Charred and stripped Lee Pratt's Chevy camero now sits in a north Montgomery wrecker yard.