When Tanner Brownlee was 15, his father Sam Brownlee was shot and killed in the line of duty while serving as a sheriff’s deputy in Colorado. Tanner doesn’t have a lot to remember his father by. That’s why he and his brother Chase wanted to buy their dad’s old Dodge Charger police car at a May charity auction.

As TV station ABC 7 reports, Tanner got some money via crowdsourcing to buy the Charger at an auction to benefit the survivors of slain officers. The car had more than 147,000 miles on the odometer. But when the bidding started, the price for the car quickly escalated beyond what Tanner could afford.

From ABC 7’s report:

When the auction started, Tanner bid first at $2,500. Within minutes, the bids were beyond the Kelly Blue Book value of $12,500.

“I think if it goes past the limit we have, I just have to hope that someone has it in their heart to win the car and give it to me and my brother. We don’t really have a backup plan,” said Tanner.

As the bids reached $50,000, Tanner’s limit had clearly come and gone, just like his dad’s car.

“60! Sold it your way, Mr. Steve Wells. Thank you very much,” said the auctioneer.

Wells is a local rancher who, much to the shock of everyone gathered, was willing to outbid everyone else and pay $60,000 for a battered old 2010 Charger SXT.

And right after he did, he turned around and handed the keys to Tanner.

“Tanner, here’s your car,” said Wells.

“You had no idea that that guy in the back was bidding and was going to hand you the keys?” asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

“Nope. I shook his hand and I didn’t know,” said Tanner. “It means so much to me.”

I highly recommend you visit ABC 7’s website and watch the full video of the auction, and Tanner’s reaction to the generosity of one total stranger.

I’m sorry, it’s getting a bit dusty in here.


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.