Alan Poster's Corvette was a brand new 1968 blue-on-blue classic driving machine when it vanished 37 years ago. Now he's been reunited with his former dream car.
The Corvette was stolen from a New York garage on Jan. 22, 1969. In November the car was identified as stolen as it was being loaded onto a container ship bound for Sweden, said U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Mike Fleming.
The car had recently been purchased for $10,000 by a man in Sweden who was not aware it had been stolen nearly four decades earlier, Fleming said. Since Poster's insurance at the time did not cover the car's theft and he was never compensated, he is entitled to get it back.
"This is a miracle," Poster said when law enforcement officials told him that his car had been recovered. He saw his car today for the first time in 37 years at a media briefing held at a Customs and Border Patrol warehouse in Carson, Calif.
"He's very excited about it," Fleming said, adding that Poster had since moved to Petaluma, Calif., and had given up hope long ago of seeing the car again.
A Strange Journey
Poster had owned the car only for two-and-a-half months when it was stolen from the garage -- one of nearly 80,000 stolen cars in New York City that year.
But he'd already managed to have some fun with his hot wheels when he was a 26-year-old guitar salesman. "I remember driving it through the tunnel in Manhattan and some guy wanted to race me," he said, "and I knew he was dirt."
The New York Police Department played a big role in the Corvette's recovery. After the Customs and Border Patrol contacted the department, Det. William Heiser scoured the department's records room and dug in to the coldest stolen car case of his career.
"We went through about 5,000 records over the course of four days here to locate this report," Heiser said, which led them to Poster.
When detectives called, Poster didn't believe it was actually the NYPD. "He was pretty surprised," Det. Cliff Bieder said. "I think he thought it was a joke at first."
No one knows where the Corvette has been all this time. It was apparently never registered or insured, or the vehicle identification number would have revealed it had been stolen.
The car is now silver with a red interior, according to Customs and Border Patrol. The original 327-cubic-inch engine has been replaced by a 454 big block Chevy engine. The car has a stolen automatic transmission that wasn't introduced until the mid-1980s, and the gas tank is missing. The car's classic design, however, has survived.
Today the car that cost $6,000 in 1968 is a classic. Similar models are auctioned on Web sites for $50,000 to $100,000. But Poster said his Corvette is not for sale.
"I plan to restore it and keep it," he said.
He also plans to give it to another eager young driver with the same name -- his teenage daughter.
ABC News' Neal Karlinsky and Reuters contributed to this report.