We wanted to surprise you

When sports car enthusiast Simon Pritchard decided to restore his beloved 25-year-old Lotus Esprit, he thought it would take 18 months and cost about $50,000. At least, that was the impression he gave others who shared his interest in the classic car via an online forum. But then, the Abergavenny, Wales, resident was diagnosed with an illness that landed him in a hospital. At that point, it appeared the project might have to be abandoned. Or at least it did until the administrator of the website tried to phone him one day and learned that he was out of circulation. Said Andy Betts, who's from London, "I thought there had to be something we could do to help." Solution: set up a section of the website to which Pritchard would be denied access and recruit volunteers to finish the restoration. Soon, there were offers of time, expertise, and even some of the parts that would be needed. Kelley Pritchard arranged for her husband's car to be taken to a garage where the work would be done. In five weeks, it was finished, all the way down to a new engine and paint job. And this by people who'd never met the owner. Back home again, Pritchard still didn't know until friends took him to a Lotus rally and he saw two of them driving his car. "I can't even begin to thank all the people who were involved," he said afterward. "It just ... shows that there is good in everybody."

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