This guy in Palo Alto had his ’56 T-Bird stolen 31 years ago. This week, it was found in Southern California.

In some ways, Leung said, the car was always meant to be his.

In 1973, he was searching for a 1956 T-Bird, the only year with a chrome spare-tire holder in the back, only to find one for sale just three doors down from his father’s downtown Palo Alto restaurant.

“I fell in love,” he said.

Leung, then 28, got busy restoring it. He stripped off the sea spray blue paint and replaced it with white – making it match the T-Bird that mystery blond Suzanne Somers cruised around in during the movie “American Graffiti.”

Three years later, Leung parked the beautifully restored car in the lot of his auto shop in downtown Palo Alto. He planned to take his T-Bird out for a spin. The next day, the chain blocking the lot was cut, and the car was gone.

Somebody bought the T-bird in EBay and took it to a Highway Patrol office to get help finding the vehicle identification number. The cops knew where to look, and when they found the number and ran it, voila, it came up as stolen. So, Palo Alto guy gets his car back, EBay buyer is screwed, apparently. Frankly, I think this is all karmic punishment for painting a baby blue T-Bird white, but I figure the guy’s paid his dues.