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

There has always been a certain fascination about early production Mustangs. We've all heard the story of 100001, a white convertible that was mistakenly sold to airline pilot Stanley Tucker and eventually returned to Ford, where it is now preserved by The Henry Ford museum. The hardtop with the earliest VIN, 100002, was found in Canada by Art Fria, who restored the car and now displays it at museums.

We also know that 12 of the earliest production Mustang convertibles, 100003 through 100014, were used on the Magic Skyway at the Ford Pavilion during the 1964 portion of the New York World's Fair. These cars were specially prepared by Carron & Company for the Magic Skyway's conveyor system and were used, along with 134 other Ford convertibles, to transport World's Fair visitors through the display. When they were replaced by '65 models for the 1965 portion of the fair, the '64 cars were returned to Ford, where they were overhauled before being sold through the company's used car program. Most were driven by their new owners, then discarded as mileage and usage took their tolls. Until recently, the only known '64 1/2 World's Fair convertible has been 100006, owned by Alan Shepley in Georgia. It's little more than a rusty hulk in need of a total restoration.

But while Mustang enthusiasts have eagerly kept their eyes open for surviving early production and World's Fair Mustangs, Pennsylvania's Dr. John Mansell didn't have to look far. He has owned 5F08F100004, a black convertible that was used at the World's Fair, since 1965. A true survivor, the car was recently pulled out of a 31-year storage for display at the All-Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It still has remnants of the brackets that attached the chassis to the Magic Skyway conveyor tracks.

All along, Dr. Mansell knew what he had. In fact, he has been collecting early production and special vehicles, not just Mustangs, for many years, starting out with a Ford Model As and '57-'59 Skyliner retractables. A family physician, Dr. Mansell recalls using one of his Model As to make house calls because it could transverse the ruts in the dirt roads in the Amish communities.

In 1965, a friend at Ford alerted John about a group of early production Mustangs that had just been returned from the New York World's Fair. "He mentioned a shipment of vehicles that came through from the World's Fair. They were in the parking lot next to the building where he worked," Dr. Mansell recalls. "He investigated and found this one."

However, at the time, Dr. Mansell was building his first home and couldn't afford the $2,475 price tag, so he convinced his father-in-law, Chester McCartney, to purchase the black convertible. "John LaPay, the fellow in charge of used car sales for Ford division, originally got the car for himself," Dr. Mansell says. "He used it for awhile and then put it up for sale. That's when we got it, on June 23, 1965."

Dr. Mansell and his father-in-law traveled to Dearborn to pick up the 6,100-mile (not including Magic Skyway use, of course) Mustang and drive it back to Pennsylvania. Before leaving town, they posed for photos at Ford. McCartney drove the car for several months, including a cross-country trip to California and back. On December 2, 1965, Dr. Mansell purchased the Mustang, with 20,237 miles, from his father-in-law for $2,200. "It hadn't depreciated much," he says now.

Unlike most of the cars in his collection, the Mustang was used as family transportation. Dr. Mansell's son, Lee, recalls, "I didn't get to drive it but my older sister did. Every time we took it out, we documented it. Due to the Pennsylvania potholes, we'd lose a hubcap every now and then, and we'd have to go out and search for it. It was an everyday driver but at the same time we were trying to keep track of every little thing."