Missing Mustang Returned to ‘L.A. Daily News’ Publisher — 35 Years After Theft

In his Sept. 22 column, Dennis McCarthy related that his boss just got his car back – after 35 years.

In 1974, Jack Klunder, president and publisher of the Daily News, Woodland Hills, Calif., discovered that his 1966 Ford Mustang had been stolen from a college parking lot.

The California Highway Patrol called his wife, Dee Dee, late last year to say they’d found the car. “They promised me they’d call if they found it,” Klunder said.

The theft occurred while Klunder was at basketball practice at Rio Hondo Junior College, in Whittier. “I went to the administration building to report it stolen and there was a line of kids out the door,” Klunder told McCarthy. “I was 18 and in a panic. I cut to the front of the line and told the woman my car had been stolen. She told me to get in line, that’s why everybody was here. A car theft ring stole 60 cars that night.”

So Klunder broke the news to his father, who bought the used Mustang for Jack for $800 and spent another $1,000 to fix it. Years later, Klunder bought Mustangs for his two daughters. One, he said, “reminded me of my old Mustang.”

When she got the call, Dee Dee Klunder thought the CHP officer was talking about that later Mustang. “Jack just left for work driving it,” she told him.

When they picked up the old car, it was in “bad shape,” Dee Dee remarked, adding, “I drove it home and was lucky to make it.”

Police identified the old Mustang when the woman who unknowingly bought the stolen vehicle tried to sell it, and the prospective buyer found a problem with its identification number.

Since its recovery, McCarthy reported, the car “has been getting the kid-glove treatment” at a friend’s body shop. Two weeks ago it left the shop, “a sparkling, completely restored black 1966 Mustang.”