Police said they were left with minor injuries after the “very frightening ordeal” in Stanley Place in the Abbeyhill area of Edinburgh at around 5.30pm on Friday.
The 71-year-old man was washing his Volkswagen Golf in his driveway at around 5pm when a man passed and started talking to him.
Half an hour later a different man started a conversation and then tried to wrestle the 71-year-old to the ground and get into the car, officers said.
The man’s wife ran out of the house and struggled with the attacker before he made off from the area without the car.
Police said two men were seen acting suspiciously at the Lothian Cars garage shortly before the attack and believe it could be the same people involved.
The suspect is white, in his late 20s or early 30s, around 6ft with dark curly hair and dark stubble.
He was wearing dark jogging trousers, a dark t-shirt with writing across the chest and a tattoo on his left forearm of a name in “old style” writing.
Detective Inspector Paul Grainger said: “This was a very frightening ordeal for the elderly victim and his wife, but thankfully neither were seriously injured, nor did they lose their car.
“We have a very detailed description of the suspect and would urge anyone who recognises him, or who can assist us in tracing him to come forward.
“As part of our inquiries we have established that two men were seen acting suspiciously around the Lothian Cars garage on Stanley Place prior to this incident and we are looking to establish if the same individuals were involved.
“If you have seen anyone acting suspiciously or unusually in this area around this time or if you believe you have information relevant to our ongoing inquiry then please contact police immediately.”