CARSON, Calif. – The last time former New York City resident Alan Poster saw his dream car, he was young and it was blue.
Nearly four decades later, he's a little grayer and the car has turned silver — but it was love at first sight again as the Corvette somebody swiped in New York was returned to him.
"It's a dream. Wow, this is a beautiful model," Poster said as customs officials unveiled the 1968 sports car. "This is definitely a miracle. Because in speaking to the police, the odds of them finding me were a million to one."
Poster said last week that he won't drive the car much — he has a Mercedes — but he is glad to have it back in his collection.
Poster was living in New York in January 1969 when the car he'd bought for $6,000 three months earlier was stolen from a parking garage. Poster had not insured it against theft because he could not afford to do so.
He went on with his life, eventually moving to Northern California.
In November, the Corvette was inside a shipping container at the Port of Long Beach, destined for a buyer in Sweden. A routine customs check showed that the car had been reported stolen on Jan. 22, 1969, but there was no address for the owner.
Nobody knows where the car was or through how many hands it passed. While it appeared in perfect condition, some things had changed. It was silver with a red interior, had a different engine and lacked a gas tank, and its transmission had been stolen from another car.
The car was seized, and New York police were notified. Two detectives spent days studying microfilmed files until they found the report. They tracked down Poster and notified him that his long-lost Corvette had been found.
"The odds against finding it so many years afterward were phenomenal," said Mike Fleming, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
No arrests were made in connection with the theft of the car or the transmission.
The car's seller, a Long Beach collector, and the Swedish buyer are not suspected of wrongdoing, authorities said.
Poster, meanwhile, is overjoyed.
"This car was probably the last car I ever really [loved]," said Poster, 63. "It was the hottest thing around."