A California woman just got the best Christmas present ever, and it was only 28 years late.

A forest green 1967 Ford Mustang stolen in 1986 was discovered by the Department of Motor Vehicles and returned to its rightful owner, Lynda Alsip. It was her first car, the Monterey County Herald reports.

"I never thought I would see it again," she told the Herald, standing in a Salinas tow yard next to her car. "It's like winning the lottery."

She bought the car for $800 in 1985 when she was 17 years old. About a year later, it was stolen outside her Salinas apartment complex.

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Police say the vehicle was found at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Salinas in September when a man tried to register the car he had for 23 years. Authorities were investigating whether the man knew it was stolen.

"It had been out of the system for so long that it came back with no file," California Highway Patrol Officer Jaime Rios said. "The officer did some digging and found out the car was stolen in 1986 from Salinas."

Alsip, who now lives in the central California valley town of Hollister, plans to have some work done on the car then show off her original personalized license plate, "LYNDA67."

The Associated Press contributed to this report