February 4, 2014

Mustang: 50 Years Ago

On February 7, 1964, Ford formally announced to the public that it would "introduce a new sports-type car, the Mustang." The cat was out of the bag. On that same Friday, the assembly line at the Dearborn Assembly Plant was shut down so it could be modified to permit integrated assembly of both Fairlanes and Mustangs on the same line. New welding fixtures were installed, equipment modifications were made, and parts moved into place. On Monday, February 10, the first pre-production Mustangs were assembled to provide assembly line workers a chance to learn the new build process.

As a group, those first cars are known as pre-production Mustangs. Recent research reveals that approximately 180–200 of these cars were assembled and they all can be identified by their metal door data plates with a scheduled build date of "05C," for March 5. Even though most of these Mustangs were assembled prior to March 5, they were all given "05C" build dates. Any '65 Mustang with a "05C" build date is a pre-production car. Some were later sold by Ford. To date, approximately 50 of those early cars are known to exist today.

Although those chassis received the first VIN numbers, it is not known which one was the first assembled since the numbers were assigned non-sequentially. For example, 100002 may have been assembled before 100001, as was normal Ford protocol based on different factors. Some of those first cars were assembled at the Allen Park Pilot Plant and transported to the factory to be used for assembly line start-up. Using extrapolation from researched information, about 45 of these cars were convertibles, the rest hardtops. A Ford document dated February 6 directed 12 of those first cars, starting with VIN 100003, to be sent to the 1964 New York World's Fair for use on the Ford Pavilion's Magic Skyway moving ride attraction.

By February 28, 150 pre-production Mustangs had been assembled. They were stored deep within the factory in a secure "No Access" zone restricting unauthorized workers from entering to assure there would be no unauthorized pictures or leaks about the cars. March 5 would conclude pre-production assembly and "real" production Mustangs would be produced beginning March 9.

A presentation featuring some of the original Mustang program managers discussing the evolution 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. - Bob Fria (author of Mustang Genesis, available from Amazon or by contacting the publisher: McFarland and Co., Box 611, Jefferson, NC 336/246-4460).

Shelby SIP 2014

It's hard to believe that we've produced seven Shelby SIPs (short for Special Interest Publication) for Shelby American. The 2014 edition is now available at your newsstand. It features articles about Shelby American's move to south Las Vegas, the Wide Body GT 500 Super Snake, Shelbys in popular culture, and a lot more, along with great photography from long-time Mustang Monthly contributor Jerry Heasley.

Sneak Peek: Mustang I Die-Cast

As part of the Mustang's 50th anniversary, die-cast model maker Automodello has inked a deal with Ford Licensing to offer 1:43 and 1:24 models of the 1962 Mustang I two-seater concept car. Automodello provided us with photos of the model prototype, shown sitting on its base. The actual models will be mounted on a base that will include the Mustang 50th Anniversary logo.

We've also learned that 50 versions of the 1:43 model will be signed by race driver Dan Gurney, who drove the real Mustang I during its debut at Watkins Glen in October 1962. These special editions are available for pre-order through The Henry Ford Museum or at the Automodello website at www.diecasm.com. Reportedly, 40 have already been spoken for.

Pinewood Mustang for Charity

Like most fathers with kids in Cub Scouts, Doug Poad from Lafayette, Indiana, found himself assisting with Pinewood Derby models, helping both of his sons and participating in parent/sibling races. Of course, being the competitive sort, there was always a friendly competition to see who could build the best-looking (and of course, fastest) model out of wood.

While attending the Hot Rod Industry Alliance show in Indianapolis, Doug learned about the "Builder's Challenge" featuring Pinewood models built by professionals and sponsored by businesses and corporations. Intrigued, Doug made inquiries about participating in the 2013 Challenge. A few photos of the Indy 500 winning Marmom Wasp he built the previous year got him an official invite to build a model for this year's competition.

As the owner of a '67 Mustang convertible and '85½ SVO, Doug settled on a first generation '69 Mustang as his platform. With the exception of the wheels, tires, paint, decals, and lights, the entire car is hand-formed from wood. An accomplished artist, Doug started by making profiles of the car on paper, then used them to make templates. Doug had to add wood to the top and sides of the standard Pinewood kit to get the proportions right. Using the templates, the basic shape was made with a scroll saw. From that point, it was completely refined by hand.

The wood car is mostly stock '69 SportsRoof with the addition of Shelby KR-style hood scoops. The wheels, tires, headlights, and taillights are borrowed from a 24th scale plastic model. The grille is a carbon-fiber decal while the inner headlight buckets are drilled out dowel rods. The local Ford dealer allows for charity projects like this so expert painter Dennis Ruse laid down real '96 Mystic Cobra color-changing paint.

Doug's Pinewood Mustang was displayed at the SEMA Pinewood drag races in Pomona, California, last July. At November's SEMA Show in Las Vegas, it was displayed with other Pinewood models at the HRIA booth. The cars were auctioned off during the show with proceeds benefitting Victory Junction and Child Help. — Chuck Key