Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
January 2, 2007

It's strange to recall that in 1976 the last of the first-generation Mustangs were only three years old. Back then, used-car lots and newspaper classifieds were loaded with barely used '65-'73 Mustangs for sale, including dirt-cheap Shelbys, Mach 1s, and Bosses. At the same time, traditional Mustang enthusiasts were not excited by Ford's newest Mustang offering, the Mustang II. For that reason, many shunned the new Mustang, instead finding cheap entry into Mustang ownership by purchasing a used '65-'73.

There was also an impending sense of doom for the future of the Mustang, so groups of Mustang owners started banding together in an effort to preserve original Mustangs and their history. In Atlanta, one of those groups decided to form a national club, calling it the Mustang Club of America. Three decades later, on Labor Day weekend, the MCA celebrated its 30th anniversary with a "Stampede" party at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama.

Nearly 30 former police Mustangs led the Mustang Monthly Pony Trails from Barber Motorsports Park to Homewood, Alabama, for an old-fashioned street party.

For 30 years, the MCA has been waving the Mustang banner high. Many of the Mustang shows held nationally, and even world-wide, are MCA-sanctioned, and the club's judging rules set the standards for preserving the marque's unique history. Once open to only '65-'73 Mustangs, the club was quick to recognize the Mustang's renewed popularity by expanding its reach to cover all Mustangs, a move that has allowed the MCA to reach its largest membership totals in its 30-year history.

The MCA celebrates every five-year milestone, and in 2006, the club once again held a big anniversary bash at a race track, this time Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, where there was plenty of room for the traditional car-show participants, as well as a compact 2.38-mile road course for open-track enthusiasts.

According to Event Chairman Stephen McCarley, over 1,500 Mustangs participated, including 300 on the track. On Thursday, well over 200 Mustangs lined up for Mustang Monthly's Pony Trails cruise from the race track to the Birmingham suburb of Homewood, where city officials shut down the street for three blocks of Mustang-only parking.

The city of Homewood shut down three blocks for the Mustang street party, which included a live band-The Flashbacks-sponsored by Vortech/Paxton. Our thanks to Randy Cunningham from the Magic City Mustangs club for coordinating the Pony Trails and event.

There was plenty to see and do at the beautiful Barber facility, which offered four tiers of paved parking for Mustangs and manufacturers. Some of the best concours Mustangs in the country were on display near the track tower, while level two was reserved for manufacturer displays, including K.A.R., Vortech/Paxton, Classic Design Concepts, Boss Shinoda, Saleen, MPS Auto Salvage (formerly Mustang Parts Specialties), and a virtual Mustang shopping mall built on-site by CJ Pony Parts. At Saturday evening's banquet, Ford's Mustang Marketing Manager Jim Owens debuted a pair of new Mustang TV commercials.

Mustangs from 37 states were on site, along with visitors from 8 foreign countries. The local news media provided coverage every day, plus The History Channel was there to film Mustangs for a new fall/winter show, Our Generation.

It's was a fitting celebration for a club that has contributed so much to the Mustang and its heritage. Happy birthday, MCA!