Kevin Hazelwood's offences took place in Leeds in November 1976. The victim was a 14-year-old girl.
The 73-year-old was given a total sentence of 12 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to the historic rape at Leeds Crown Court.
Cold case detectives reviewed files and exhibits the unsolved case in December 2015 and, with the benefit of modern forensic technology, were able to identify a suspect.
Hazelwood was arrested and charged with the offence in August last year.
Speaking following the sentencing hearing, Detective Superintendent Jim Dunkerley of West Yorkshire Police Cold Case Team said:
“Kevin Hazelwood is long overdue this sentence.
“Given the amount of time that has elapsed since he committed this heinous crime, he clearly thought that he had got away with it.
“Thanks to the foresight of forensic science partners in 1976, the tenacity of our Cold Case team, and the continual advances in forensic technology, justice has now been served and a violent rapist has been taken off the street.
"These offences have had a profound effect on the victim’s life and routines over the past 41 years and we hope this sends out a clear message to others who may believe they have evaded justice that we will continue to investigate historical offences.
”We would like to take this opportunity to urge any victims of historical offences, no matter how long ago the incident took place, to come forward and have the confidence to report what happened.”