Donald DeVault, 73, laid eyes on his 1953 Triumph Tiger 100 for the first time in 46 years at a trucking company near the airport in Omaha.
His first reaction? To hug the man who brought the bike back to him. His next move was naturally to take the motorcycle for a spin in the parking lot.
DeVault learned two weeks ago that California authorities had recovered his motorcycle at the Port of Los Angeles. The bike was about to be shipped to Japan when agents checking the vehicle identification number discovered it had been reported stolen in February 1967.
DeVault had had the bike for only a year or two when it was taken from his fenced backyard.
The motorcycle was valued at $300 in 1967. Today, it's worth about $9,000.
DeVault already has a Harley-Davidson and a Kawasaki motorcycle in his garage, so he plans to reserve the Triumph for special rides.
The Omaha man said he's talked about the Triumph over the years whenever he was around bikers. It had a couple features unusual for Triumphs made in the early 1950s, such as its hardtail frame.
DeVault recalls Marlon Brando riding a similar Triumph bike in the movie "The Wild One," which he said help make motorcycles popular. But DeVault said he was already riding motorcycles by the time the movie came out, and continued riding for much of his life.
What sold him on the Triumph was the blue color and the name "Li'l Blue Bitch" airbrushed on the side of the gas tank.
On Monday, he brought in a friend to repaint the name on the tank.