Jim Smart
July 25, 2006
Photos By: Chris Richardson

The ordinary classified ad in the Detroit newspaper read, "1965 Mustang once owned by the Ford family." At under $1,000, the asking price was a deal, even by 1974 standards, so Art Cairo went to take a look at the Hi-Po hardtop, which was worse for wear with its original-but-faded black finish. Art also noticed some unusual components. For example, the roof was leather instead of the usual textured vinyl, and the wheel-lip moldings were die-cast metal instead of the anodized aluminum found on production Mustangs. The Mustang also had leaded seams at the door jams and trunk opening, along with GT foglights in the grille, exhaust trumpets, and Styled Steel wheels: items not offered to Mustang buyers when the car was built in early 1964. What's more, it had an alternator charging system, something available only on Lincolns at the time.

Inside was a wealth of black leather upholstery instead of the usual vinyl, real teakwood where Mustangs never had it, chrome door strikers and latches, a factory reverb unit and rear speaker under the package shelf, and molded-leather door panels with pistol-grip door handles. When Art raised the hood, it had an insulation blanket, something never available on a Mustang. He also found front disc brakes, a Top Loader four-speed, and a 9-inch rearend with 3.50:1 gears.

It wasn't until Art spotted the 5F07K100148 vehicle identification number that he was hit by a flood of urgency to buy the car. Obviously, it was an early production '6411/42 Mustang hardtop with the 289 High Performance engine and plenty of unusual features. In the glovebox, Art discovered a '65 Mustang owner's manual inscribed with Edsel B. Ford II's name and Grosse Pointe address. But oddly, the vehicle identification number listed in the manual didn't match the hardtop; 5F09K721789 indicated a '65 fastback.

Art bought the car anyway, not realizing its true significance. For years, he assumed the Raven Black Mustang had been owned by Edsel Ford, who would have been in high school at the time. It wasn't until 1983, during an interview with Edsel for Mustang Monthly, that Art learned the truth about his Mustang when Edsel revealed the hardtop had once belonged to his father, Henry Ford II (HFII). In the interview, Art showed the owner's manual to Edsel, who said he had indeed driven the Hi-Po fastback. Somehow the owner's manual for his fastback wound up in the glove compartment of his father's hardtop.

It is easy to assume that the Ford family owned their unusual, special-order Mustangs, but that's not the case. Both 5F07K100148 and 5F09K721789 belonged to Ford Motor Company and were built for Ford family use. Afterwards, the cars were returned to Ford and sold.

Art's HFII hardtop was a preproduction unit, one of approximately 180 Mustangs assembled prior to the official March 9, 1964, start-up date at the Dearborn Assembly Plant. Research by Bob Fria, who owns 5F07U100002, has revealed that all preproduction units were actually Pilot Plant units bucked at Body & Assembly in Allen Park, not far from Dearborn. All were shipped to the Dearborn plant and assembled there.