Red Straw to the Rescue! Mustang GT Stolen and Recovered

Ray Elgin/

April 17 marked sixty years since the Ford Mustang’s public debut at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The original pony car immediately became a pop-culture and automotive phenom, and it remains one of the most impactful cars in history. Click here to follow along with our multi-week 60 Years of Mustang coverage. —Ed.

It was too early for the phone to ring. One of my workers was on the line, out of breath, saying that the Mustang was gone. Stolen!  

I had left my beloved ’65 Mustang GT convertible in the fenced, locked yard at my office. The thieves managed to cut multiple padlocks, moved a 15-foot truck, and got away with my baby.

Luis Espinosa 1965 Ford Mustang GT head on
Ray Elgin/

When I was a teenager growing up in Mexico, I saw the French movie A Man and a Woman and fell in love—with the ’65 Mustang convertible. I told my mom, “I’m going to have that car one day.” Years later, I graduated from college in the U.S. and surprised my mom by showing off El Poni, my Rangoon Red ’65 Mustang GT convertible. She cried.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and El Poni was on blocks in the garage, with vermin living comfortably in the engine compartment. My wife told me I needed to fix it or sell it. I couldn’t part with the car, so I put in the time and money to build it into a show piece. I was rewarded with the biggest surprise of my life when I won the Mayor’s Trophy at the 2019 La Jolla Concours d’Elegance.

Luis Espinosa 1965 Ford Mustang GT LaJolla Concours
La Jolla Concours

A few months later, we were in the middle of the Covid pandemic, and El Poni was gone. I was heartbroken, and so were my friends and family. My wife and I drove around neighborhoods in hopes of finding the car, to no avail. We reported the theft but heard nothing.

Then, a miracle. A year and a half after the theft, I found a listing for a red ’65 Mustang GT convertible on eBay. I stared at the photos and saw that the rear window was glass instead of vinyl. Then I saw the custom armrest. Then the gold-painted air filter painted gold. I knew it was mine.

Luis Espinosa 1965 Ford Mustang GT eBay listing
The eBay listing that led Espinosa back to his baby.Luis Espinosa

Amazingly, the people selling on eBay listed their city and included a photo of the car taken in front of their condo. A detective from the Chino Police Department, who happened to own a ’66 Mustang convertible, located the car with the assistance of the California Highway Patrol. The VIN plate on the driver’s side had been punched out. To verify the VIN, the passenger-side fender—held on by 18 bolts—would have to be removed. The detective had a better idea: He asked if there was something specific that would identify the car as mine. I remembered I’d put a red plastic straw in the windshield washer bag to hold it up. And when the detective opened the hood, he exclaimed “Yep, it’s your car! Come and get it.”

I went to church and lit a candle, so grateful to have this beloved car once again.


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    My 1967 Mustang was stolen in 2001. It was In perfect condition when it was stolen. In 2023 I received a call from a detective in my area and he asked if i remembered reporting it stolen 22 years ago and I said of course I’d did . He then told me that it was found in hommasassa Florida I live in NC . My brother and I went to pick it up and unfortunately it was nowhere near the condition it was in when it left . Now im stuck try to figure out how to restore it . It’s a shame that I live paycheck to paycheck.. maybe one day I’ll get it back to the beauty it was

    Nice to see a happy ending on this one. finding a car years later is not a common thing unfortunately.

    In the mid 70’s I was driving a Marimba Red 64 GTO I had bought and added 4 speed and Tripower to.

    The GM stamping plant in Pontiac I worked at was having a rash of auto thefts on 2nd shift and my GTO became a victim.

    I reported the theft and about a week later Detroit Police called to say they had my car and come to the Palmer Park Precinct and pick it up,

    When I arrive at the Police Station the two policemen who greeted me were old high school classmates who I had played football with.

    My car now had a lot of beautiful white pinstriping and different wheels and tires but was fine otherwise.

    Funny how things work sometimes!


    The sellers may have acquired the car legitimately. Not likely, but they MAY have, so let’s not convict them on the internet.

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