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).

Boss Art

Among Jim Gerdom's latest Design Factory artwork is a 12x24-inch art print of the '12 Boss 302 Laguna Seca. Produced in a limited edition of 2,000 prints, each work is personally signed and numbered by Gerdom. To order for $40, call 888/268-9933 or visit www.designfactoryart.com

Definitive Shelby

For a vintage Shelby book, it doesn't get much better than an endorsement from the Shelby American Automobile Club: "If you thought your Shelby bookshelf was complete, make enough room to squeeze in one more." Granted, Greg Kolasa, the author of The Definitive Shelby Mustang Guide 1965-1970, is a SAAC registrar, but that only lends credence to his expertise for writing such a book.

SAAC's Rick Kopec goes on to compare Kolasa's work to the original Shelby American Guide, now out of print, in that it provides detailed information about the '65-'70 Shelby Mustangs, only with color photos instead of the black and whites from SAAC's 1981 book. The Definitive Shelby Mustang Guide starts with the early history of the Shelby GT 350, then follows the evolution to the much-changed models from the late 1960s. Even better, the 192-page hardbound book details each year of Shelby production with nicely detailed photos, many as close-ups of specific parts that will no doubt help restorers as they return these cars to their original condition.

Published by CarTech, The Definitive Shelby Mustang Guide 1965-1970 is available for $39.95, plus $6.95 shipping, by calling 800/551-4754 or from the website at www.cartechbooks.com.

News Desk

Longtime drag racing photographer and former Mustang Illustrated editor Bob McClurg has a new paperback book from CarTech. Titled Diggers, Funnies, Gassers, and Altereds, the book captures the action of drag racing during the 1960s and 1970s. With a Forward by John Force, the book also include numerous images of the Mustangs campaigned by Tasca Ford, Gapp & Roush, and others. Order from www.cartechbooks.com.

To raise funds for the American Cancer Society during the Cattle Baron's Ball in Texas last October, Shelby American donated and installed a Super Snake package on a '14 Shelby GT 500. Held at the Southfork Ranch near Dallas, the event is the largest single-night fundraiser for cancer research. Brooke Shelby, wife of Carroll Shelby's oldest grandson Aaron, was a co-chairperson for this year's fundraiser.

At some point, most of us have applauded during banquet announcements that Ford didn't accept a government bail-out in 2009. If you want to learn more about how Ford avoided that fate, pick up a copy of American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company. It details the hard decisions that Ford CEO Mulally was forced to make before and during the recession. The book is available in paperback at bookstores and at www.amazon.com.

Speaking of Mulally, rumors are circulating that the 68 year-old "turnaround expert," who is recognized for saving both Boeing and Ford, may be headed for Microsoft when its current CEO retires next year.

As of October 2013, Mustangs Across America had reached over 300 registrations for its cruise from Los Angeles to Charlotte for the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration, which departs on April 10 and arrives at Charlotte Motor Speedway on April 16. Organizer Sam Haymart is expecting up to 500 Mustangs for the trip. Visit www.mustangsacrossamerica.com for more information.

Greenlight collectibles has released a 1:18 scale “Charlie's Angels” '76 Mustang II Cobra II. White with blue stripes, the die-cast model resembles the Cobra II driven by actress Farrah Fawcett. It can be found wherever die-cast models are sold, including Hobby Lobby.

Mustang Monthly's parent company, Source Interlink Media, is preparing to roll-out a Mustang “super site” website that incorporates all of the company's brands—Mustang Monthly, Modified Mustangs & Fords, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, and 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords. The debut is scheduled for March.

Also, Source Interlink Media has entered into a multi-year agreement with The Eastwood Company, which will supply restoration and fabrication tools to the SIM Tech Centers, including the one used by Mustang Monthly in Tampa.

In the November issue, we mentioned that Ford may be planning to recognize the Mustang's 50th anniversary with activities surrounding the August Mustang Memories show in Dearborn. However, with Ford's recent announcement that it would be putting its sponsorship weight behind the 50th Mustang Birthday Celebration events in Charlotte and Las Vegas, that seems less likely, although Ford will possibly be involved with the Mustang Owners Club of Southeastern Michigan's planned celebration, rumored to take place during the Woodward Dream Cruise weekend in August.

Mustang Formula Drift driver Vaughan Gittin Jr. finished the 2013 season as the highest qualifier overall and fifth in the championship points race. He was also named “Ace Driver of the Decade,” meaning he has won more tandem battles than any other driver in Formula D history.

Ford's Jim Owens, former Mustang marketing manager and at one time VP of marketing at Shelby American, has been named the 50th Mustang Celebration Marketing Manager to oversee Ford's involvement with Mustang 50th anniversary activities.

Countdown to the 50th

On April 16-20, 2014, Ford Motor Company and the Mustang Club of America will celebrate the Mustang's 50th anniversary with two simultaneous 50th Mustang Birthday Celebration events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Related activities start two weeks earlier with Great American Pony Drives from seven locations cruising to Mustang, Oklahoma, for an official kick-off weekend followed by eastbound and westbound Pony Drives to the Mustang 50th events.

Over the coming months in this space, we'll keep readers abreast of the 50th anniversary happenings, adding updates as they become available. The official website, www.mustang50thbirthdaycelebration.com, includes registration and hotel information. Event schedules will be posted as they become available.

Update: At the MCA Director's Meeting in Dallas on October 12, Ford's Large and Performance Car Marketing Manager Steve Ling and 50th Mustang Celebration Marketing Manager Jim Owens announced that Ford has become a partner with the MCA for the 50th Mustang Birthday Celebration events. “With this partnership, the MCA will benefit from Ford support in many areas,” said Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration executive director Ron Bramlett, noting that Ford will help with the facilities, event layout, parking, set-up, and marketing. “In short, Ford Motor Company is recognizing the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration events in Charlotte and Las Vegas as Ford's official Mustang 50th anniversary.”

April 4-11, 2014
Great American Pony Drives to Norman, Oklahoma
Dearborn: Departs
April 8
April 4
Richmond: Departs
April 7
Boston: Departs
April 6
Los Angeles: Departs
April 4
Sacramento: Departs
April 5
Seattle: Departs
April 6
Visit www.ponydrive.us for complete schedules, routes, and activities.
April 10-16, 2014
Mustangs Across America 50th Drive
Departs April 10 from Los Angeles for a week-long cruise to Charlotte. Visit www.mustangsacrossamerica.com for route and schedule.
April 11-13, 2014
Official 50th Anniversary Kick-Off Party hosted by the Mustang Club of America at the National Center for Employee Development (NCED) Conference Center and Hotel in Norman, Oklahoma. Track event at the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department Training Facility, Friday evening Meet and Greet, Saturday night banquet with special speakers, and shuttles to shopping.
April 13-16, 2014
50th Anniversary Pony Drives from Norman, Oklahoma, to Charlotte and Las Vegas. Visit www.ponydrive.us for schedules and stops.
April 16-20
Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Shows, open tracks, Hospitality Villages, special activities and displays, swap meet, manufacturer midway.
April 16: Pony Drive arrivals, vendor set-up, Welcome Party (7 p.m.)
April 17: Opening Ceremonies (11 a.m.), evening banquet
April 18-19: Open track, drag racing (Charlotte), parade laps, Half Marathon (Las Vegas), themed dinner (Friday, Charlotte), evening banquet (Saturday, Charlotte)
April 20: Easter Sunrise Services, on-track photo ops, closing ceremonies (2 p.m.)