Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
October 1, 2009
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

Dr. Mansell points out that the car had standard spinner hubcaps during its tenure as a World's Fair car, but apparently they were replaced by spinner wire hubcaps during its ownership by John LaPay at Ford. "He also switched to a black top boot rather than a red one, for whatever reason," Dr. Mansell says. "His own personal taste, I suppose."

Chester McCartney started a logbook for the Mustang when he picked it up in Dearborn, noting the mileage for fuel stops and oil changes. When Dr. Mansell purchased the car, he continued the logbook by documenting every trip, gas stop, and repair. "We were able to get 19 miles to the gallon," he says. Along the way, the shocks were replaced and typical Pennsylvania rust forced Dr. Mansell to replace the front fenders in 1972. "We repainted the car with lacquer at that point," Dr. Mansell recalls. "Other than that, we didn't do anything other than just minor stuff. The engine and transmission never had to be overhauled."

One of six kids, Lee remembers riding in the car during its stint as a family driver. "We used to drive it to Lake Erie, three kids in front and three in back. I used to have to sit on the hump."

Dr. Mansell adds with a laugh, "A console would have been a deterrent. The carpeting over the hump gave him a little bit of comfort."

A local Ford dealership, Phil Fitts Ford, requested Dr. Mansell's Mustang for display during the Mustang's 10th anniversary in the summer of 1974. Lee adds, "It was also used in a lot of parades and stuff in town. It was one of the favorite cars that people wanted to use because it's a Mustang convertible."

We asked if anyone ever noticed the early VIN. "Not unless I pointed it out to them," says Dr. Mansell. "And people forgot about the World's Fair after it closed. It was ancient history."

In 1978, Dr. Mansell "retired" the convertible and placed it in his barn, with many of his other cars, for storage. Scanning his tattered log book, he notes, "The mileage was 76,935 when we last bought gas. By the time we put it in storage, it turned over 77,000."

So while Mustang enthusiasts searched for early-production and World's Fair Mustangs during the 1990s and 2000s, Dr. Mansell had one, a well-documented survivor and family heirloom, in his barn. A phone call from Lee to his brother-in-law Rich Downing, who works for Classic Design Concepts, set the ball in motion for pulling the car out of its 31-year storage.

"I wanted to get a copy of John Clor's book," Lee says. "I remembered that Rich had mentioned going to Alabama for the Mustang 45th Anniversary Celebration and I thought maybe he was going to the same meet that was listed on Clor's website. So I called Rich in Alabama and asked him to get the book and have it signed as a Father's Day gift. And I told him a little bit about Dad having the fourth Mustang and it was at the World's Fair. That's when Rich said, 'Your Dad has a car from the Magic Skyway?' Rich thought it was unbelievable, realizing the importance of the car."

Rich convinced Lee that the car should be pulled out of storage. "We all get into ruts," Dr. Mansell explains. "It sounded like a good idea when Lee decided to give this a try."

Getting the car out of its 31-year sleep proved challenging. Rich traveled from Detroit to Pennsylvania to help. Lee came in from his home in Columbus, Ohio. First, the Mustang was buried behind a number of other cars, which had to be moved. After installing new spark plugs and adding fresh fuel, the 260 fired up and "purred like a kitten," according to Rich. After "pounding on the hubs" to loosen the brakes, the car rolled into the sunlight for the first time since 1978. Amazingly, the replacement tires still had air in them. However, the generator died not long afterwards.