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Where has her Mishi Moto gone?

Last week, someone stole Dorothy Dalton's beloved 1971 Datsun, leaving her with oil stains, memories

[Times photo: James Borchuck]
Dorothy Dalton, 78, holds a sketch of her partner of 31 years - the 1971 Datsun she bought for $2,600 and named "Mishi Moto."

By LEANORA MINAI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 18, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- For 31 years, she loved Mishi Moto. He took her everywhere -- the grocery, the beach, her favorite fabric shops. She was ever faithful and assumed they would be together forever.

"It was love at first sight," said Dorothy Dalton, 78.

But last week, he vanished.

Ms. Dalton is mourning the theft of her Datsun, the 2-door sedan she bought in 1971. After midnight Jan. 7, someone drove Mishi Moto out of Dalton's life, leaving only oil stains in the carport.

A retired secretary, Ms. Dalton bought the red Datsun for $2,600 after moving to St. Petersburg from Syracuse, N.Y. She went to a Crown dealer and tested the four-speed Datsun 1200.

"It was so cute," she said. "Zippy and modern looking for the time."

Over the years, Datsun changed to Nissan, and she logged only 24,000 miles on the odometer, running errands but not out of Pinellas County.

A petite woman with lips painted red and impeccably coiffed gray hair, she lives frugally, sewing all of her outfits. She paints, acrylic portraits of herself, her family, Winston Churchill, the Pope.

She sketched Mishi Moto, license tag D52NQG, since she did not have a photograph to show police.

"Here's the thing," said George Kajtsa, St. Petersburg police spokesman. "Whenever they steal an old car like that, it's usually for two reasons: One, because they're in love with old cars and want to keep it for themselves, or because they want to strip it for parts."

Interested buyers have stopped by her house, asking her to name a price.

"There was one who said he wanted to make a racing car out of it," Ms. Dalton said. "I just kept telling him no."

After many washings and waxings, a rebuilt starter and a new clutch, Mishi Moto was gone overnight.

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