January 27, 2014

Silver Springs is a Go!

After some concerns that renovations at Silver Springs would not be completed in time for National Parts Depot's annual Ford and Mustang Round-Up, we were glad to see the press release announcing that the 20th show is a go for January 11-12. With 1,029 vehicles packing the park last year, the event has become one of the top Ford and Mustang shows in the southeast.

Last October, the State of Florida took over operational control of the historic Silver Springs attraction, renaming it Silver Springs State Park and modifying the entrance fee structure. A concessionaire continues to operate the famous glass bottom boats and dining facilities.

With the changes, NPD has also modified its show entry process, which previously offered free registration to the first 1,000 entries. This year, free registration is offered through January 1 for '93 and earlier Ford vehicles; owners of '94 and later vehicles (and pre-'93 registration after January 1) must pay a modest park fee of $10 for the weekend with no fee for additional passes. "NPD loves and appreciates all of the beautiful cars and trucks that attend our Silver Springs event," the company said in its press release. "But in the spirit of encouraging more of our customers to pull their ‘oldies' out of hibernation, we devised the new rate structure."

And if you're in Ocala on Friday, be sure to join Mustang Monthly for the annual Pony Trails cruise to the fishing village of Cedar Key on the Gulf coast. We'll start gathering at 8 a.m. at NPD headquarters (right off I-75 at 900 SW 38th Ave., Ocala, Florida) and depart around 9:30 for the hour and a half trip to Cedar Key, where Pony Trails participants can visit local shops and enjoy lunch at one of the many water-side restaurants. Afterwards, everyone is invited back to NPD to check out the company's 180-vehicle collection and participate in the Dyno Day activities with VMP Tuning's DynoJet dynamometer.

Online registration and other information is available at www.npdlink.com

MCA 2014 Nationals

The Mustang Club of America has announced its line-up of national shows for 2014. As is typical for a year with a major Mustang anniversary show, the Grand National over Labor Day weekend will not be held. Visit www.mustang.org for more information.

May 23-25: Prairieland Roundup at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Illinois.

August 7-10: Pony Express Mustang 50th Celebration at the Pinnacle Arena Festival Area in Lincoln, Nebraska.

October 10-12: Mustangs in Historic Savannah at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center in Savannah, Georgia.

$91,000 K-GT Fastback

As reported in the Sept. '13 issue, last year's Mecum Spring Classic auction in Indianapolis resulted in a pair of record Mustang sales—the '67 Shelby GT 500 Super Snake for $1.3 million and one of the original Eleanor movie cars for $1 million. Nearly lost in the hoopla was the fact that a '65 Mustang K-GT fastback sold for $91,000, possibly a record for a non-Shelby '65 Mustang.

"I held that Mustang for a customer for probably 10 years," said Chris Ingrassia from Mustang Restoration near Chicago. "When he fell on bad times, I ended up restoring it for another customer, Jeff Aaberg, who decided to sell it at the Mecum auction when he decided to move to Iowa."

Aaberg was surprised as anyone when the bidding climbed past $50,000, then kept going until the hammer dropped at $91,000. His reserve was $48,000. According to Ingrassia, it was the perfect storm of six bidders, including one by phone, trying to buy the car, not only for its just-restored condition but also for its Caspian Blue paint and combination of desirable options, including the 289 Hi-Po engine, four-speed, GT Equipment Group, Pony interior, console, and styled steel wheels. Ingrassia also says Aaberg spent a lot of time with the car to answer bidder questions.

"As the bidding kept going up, Aaberg thought maybe he was getting punked for a TV show or something," Ingrassia laughs. "But there's always something to be said for a fresh restoration."

Mustang: 50 Years Ago

January 1, 1964, began a new year of prosperity in the United States. In the first quarter of the year, more cars were sold than at any other time in the country's history. Parts production for the upcoming new Mustang shifted into high gear. Inventories were beginning to build at the Dearborn Assembly Plant where the new pony car would come together. With the name "Mustang" finally chosen by Lee Iacocca and styling VP Gene Bordinat, as late as mid-January there was still no decision on which of the three horse-themed fender and grille emblems would be used on the production cars.

Pilot plant chassis assembly was scheduled to be concluded by February 10. The first of the pre-production cars would begin line production on that date, so the factory assembly line tooling was being moved into place during late January for installation on February 7. Planning called for the new car to be built simultaneously with the Fairlane. Factory part inventories were being integrated on the line and assembly line worker training had been completed.

On January 21, motoring press members previewed early pilot plant Mustangs, then testdrove them on Ford's Dearborn test track. Iacocca addressed the group: "We think you're in for a driving experience such as you've never had before." After the test drives, it was reported they were in agreement. None of the previewed cars were ever identified by VIN number; subsequently, all were destroyed. Pilot plant Mustangs were also driven on country roads for testing purposes. Whether stopped at restaurants or motels, the cars were surrounded by onlookers wanting to see "Henry's pony car." The word was getting out.

By late January, Ford's financial commitment was up to $65 million. Any costly mistakes at the beginning of production could be ill-afforded. Iacocca's career at Ford was on the line if the new Mustang didn't turn a quick profit. Fortunate for Mustang lovers, the bet paid off.

Detailed history of the first Mustangs will be part of the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration on April 17, 2014, to be held in Las Vegas and Charlotte. Plan to attend. —Bob Fria (author of Mustang Genesis, available from Amazon or by contacting the publisher: McFarland and Co., Box 611, Jefferson, NC 336/246-4460).