Stolen Chevrolet Corvette returned to owner after 40 years

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Score one for those know-it-alls who hang around classic car shows.

An eagle-eyed enthusiast with a keen attention to detail at a recent gathering in the northern California town of Red Bluff was checking out a 1964 Corvette when he noticed the vehicle identification number (VIN) was for a different model, evidence that the car was once stolen.

The Red Bluff Daily News reports that the owner then brought it to the local California Highway Patrol to get it checked out. Sure enough, the VIN was originally from an Impala, while another number on the car matched that of a 1964 Corvette that was reported stolen down in 1976.

Revealed : Stash of WW II-era cars hidden in French quarry.

The unidentified man had no idea, having been given the car as a gift by his wife in 1987, who bought it from a dealer that's now out of business. Some more sleuthing by the police, which included digging into the Anaheim PD's ancient microfiche records, turned up the name of the original owner, Modesto Flemming, who had since relocated to Arizona.

(Red Bluff CHP)

The police were able to reach out to Flemming, and she made the trip to Red Bluff to retrieve the car she never thought she'd see again, which happens to be in great condition and is probably worth $50,000 or more today.

A police spokesperson told that the recent owner and his wife aren’t in any trouble, as they were unwitting parties after the crime, but didn't know what if any compensation they received from insurance, or otherwise, for having to return the car.