Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
April 21, 2014
Photos By: Mustang Monthly Archives

52-mile Mach 1

This ’69 Mustang SportsRoof started life as a regular base-model Mach 1 – 351 engine, automatic transmission, no special options. However, when the car was delivered to Nebraska Ford dealership, it avoided an abused life as an everyday driver when dealership owner Bob Mercer added the Mach 1 to his stash of brand-new Fords, a collection that eventually included one new Ford from each model year between 1962 and 1970. When Mercer was diagnosed with cancer, he sold his collection of brand-new Fords, with the 52-mile Mach 1 eventually ending up with noted Mustang collector Bob Perkins. Because the Mach never sent through dealer prep, it still has the plastic coverings on the windshield wipers, steering wheel, and seat belts.

“It’s the one car in my collection that I’ll never sell,” Perkins says. “It’s my favorite!”

Green Hornet

If cars could talk, few would have a more interesting history than the “Green Hornet,” an early-production ’68 Mustang hardtop that served as a prototype for both Ford and Shelby Automotive. The car was originally ordered by Ford for use as a prototype for a possible GT/SC (Sport Coupe) hardtop model with Shelby styling (which eventually became the California Special). Most prototypes ended up in the crusher, but Ford gave 8F01S104288 a second life by shipping it to Shelby Automotive, where it was used to try out experimental concepts. At Shelby, the 390 engine was replaced by a 428 Cobra Jet, the front end updated to Shelby fiberglass, and “EXP 500” added to the stripes. Later, the car was utilized as a test vehicle for Conelec fuel injection and independent rear suspension.

Today, the restored Green Hornet is part of Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson’s collection.

Pre-Production Shorty

Somehow, someway, one of the first pre-production Mustangs, 5S08F100009, was pulled from the assembly line in early 1964 and sent to Dearborn Steel Tube, a contracted Ford shop, to be built into a shortened two-seater prototype by designer Vince Gardner. The car was eventually recruited for Ford’s Custom Car Caravan, where it was displayed around the country as the “Mustang III.” Fearing that Ford would crush his creation after its show duty ended, Gardner allegedly stole his unique Mustang and stashed it on the second floor of a rented Michigan warehouse, building a brick wall to hide it. However, the car was soon discovered and recovered by an insurance company, which eventually sold the car in 1969 to Bill Snyder, who had coveted the “Shorty” Mustang ever since reading about it in a 1965 automotive magazine.

The car is still owned by Snyder today. At the behest of Amelia Island Concours’ Bill Warner, Snyder restored the Mustang for Amelia’s “What Were They Thinking?” class at the 2013 show.

Shelby Styling

This one should have never survived the 1960s, much less sticking around for its amazing restoration by R&A Motorsports in 2012. Starting out as an early production ’67 Mustang, the convertible was shipped to Shelby American for use as a styling prototype for the upcoming ’68 Shelby convertible. There, it was designated as a “company car/engineering prototype,” served as a personal vehicle for Carroll Shelby, and was eventually painted in two different colors – red and white – for promotional and advertising photography. While most other Shelby prototypes were destroyed when Shelby American closed its southern California facility in 1967, the convertible was shipped back to Michigan, where it was refurbished and sold, probably through Ford’s resale lot. Amazingly, it survived the northern winters and everyday abuse, and was eventually rescued by collector Brian Styles in 2009. After extensive research provided the car’s full story, Styles shipped the Shelby to R&A for a restoration to its promotional photo condition.

Although the ’67 to ’68 Shelby styling convertible was used in many photos, it is perhaps best recognized from this promotional beach photo for the new ’68 Shelby convertible.

Thankfully, this special Mustang survives as the only ’67 Shelby convertible, the only big-block convertible built at the Shelby American facility in Los Angeles, and the third GT 500 built.

Mustang II Concept

In this case, Ford recognized the significance of the Mustang II concept car, built in 1963 to tease the public about the coming of the ’65 Mustang in 1964. After its debut at Watkins Glen in the fall of 1963, the Mustang II toured the auto show circuit, then “retired” to a warehouse for storage until Ford donated it to the Detroit Historical Museum in 1975. The car is currently part of the museum’s transportation collection.

When photographed in 2012, the Mustang II was in storage at the Detroit Historical Museum (photo by Jim Kreuz)
The Mustang II in the Ford styling courtyard on October 8, 1963, just days before it debuted at Watkins Glen.