EXCLUSIVEQuentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" '65 Chevy has been through the wringer since it was stolen nearly 2 decades ago ... but it's no worse for the wear ... because the current owner spent more than $20,000 to restore it!
TMZ broke the story ... the red Chevy that Vincent Vega drove on his "date" with Mia Wallace in the 1994 movie -- was stolen from outside Q's L.A. home back in May 1995. The car was finally recovered last week after the arrest of a suspected classic car thief.
Law enforcement sources tell us ... the Chevy was in mint condition when it was jacked ... then went AWOL for several years before being passed around a couple of collectors.
At one point the car was abandoned in Oakland ... but the VIN number had been tampered with, so officials couldn't connect the car back to Quentin.
A collector in Northern California bought the car roughly 10 years ago ... and has had it ever since, completely unaware of its stolen past.
When cops came a-callin', after the arrest of a suspected classic car thief, the collector told cops the ride was in rough shape when he bought it ... and he's spent more than $20k to make it pretty again.
We're talkin ... new wheels, new tires, new top, fresh paint job, new chrome and plenty of interior work ... clearly it didn't get the TLC a classic car deserves.
Authorities say Tarantino should get his old rig back in the next few weeks.
The current owner should be able to make an insurance claim ... but it's unclear if he'll be reimbursed for a mint '65 Chevy ($$) ... or a mint '65 Chevy that was in 'Pulp Fiction' ($$$$$$$$$$).
Stay tuned ...