Brakke reported the car stolen to Burbank police in May 1970.
One month later, a Long Beach teenager named Judy Smongesky received the car as a high school graduation gift from her father, who had bought it at a Bellflower used car dealer.
Smongesky, who now lives in San Diego, said Thursday she had been driving and maintaining the car for nearly four decades, and only learned that it had been stolen when she recently prepared to sell it. San Diego police verified the car was hot.
"It's his car, even though he had it for four years and I had it for 38," Smongesky said. "He seems like a real nice gentleman, though."
Brakke found out Smongesky had twice rebuilt the engine and painted the Mustang from its old gold color to silver-blue.
"He wasn't too happy with that," Smongesky said.
The pair planned to meet up to transfer the car soon.
"It was hard but it was the right thing to do," Smongesky said. "I haven't really cried yet, but when he drives it away, I think I'll fall apart."