Evan J. Smith
June 24, 2014

On April 16-20, Mustang enthusiasts converged on New York City, Charlotte, and Las Vegas for the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration. With three special venues, including the reveal of the 50th Anniversary Mustang in NYC, two giant MCA shows, and seemingly endless side stories, it was hard for any fan or participant to nail down one defining moment.

My week started at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) for the unveiling of the 50th Anniversary Mustang. Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields spoke at the NYIAS breakfast, and shortly thereafter, Bill Ford Jr. presented the 50th Anniversary Mustang to the world.

That evening, I was invited to a special reception at the Empire State Building, where I saw a 2015 Mustang convertible perched on the 86th floor Observation Deck! This replicated a stunt Ford pulled off in 1966. I was engaged in conversation with Mustang Lead Engineer Dave Pericak, and also mingled with Mark Fields and Bill Ford Jr. Seeing a brand-new Mustang at a world-famous landmark and speaking with Ford brass would be considered an amazing day for any automotive journalist or Ford enthusiast. Pericak, Fields and Ford were bursting with pride over the 2015 Mustang and genuinely interested in how Mustang enthusiasts feel about America’s most iconic automobile.

The following morning, with little rest, I was off to the official Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration in Charlotte. Fans there saw the Wimbledon White 50th Anniversary Mustang (a Kona Blue model was shown in Vegas), as well as thousands of Stangs, on-track racing and amazing vendors. For many, it was their first live glimpse of the 2015 Mustang. The response was amazing, as Dave Pericak and Bill Ford Jr., Mark Fields, John Clor, and other dignitaries spoke to the anxious crowd.

Another highlight was our tour of Daniel Carpenter Mustang Reproductions. DCMR is one of the premier manufacturers of reproduction Ford parts and the facility is amazing. Carpenter owns many of the original Ford molds and stamping equipment that were used to produce everything from door seal moldings, Pony center caps, lenses for many Ford models, and a multitude of assorted parts. He’s also procured a Fox Mustang collection that had me gasping. (You can read about the tour on at Mustang-360.com.)

One car in particular, took me back to the summer of 1985. I distinctly remember sitting on my bed reading about Ford’s stealthy 5.0 LX in Hot Rod magazine’s Roddin’ At Random column. I had an affliction for understated sleeper muscle cars, and the plain 5.0 LX appealed to my craving for a bare-bones V-8/stick-shift-equipped machine. At $9,300, it was somewhat affordable, too. I wanted one badly. So imagine my surprise when I entered Carpenter’s upstairs showroom and saw an all-original ’85 5.0 LX coupe—the very car that got me hooked on Fox-body Mustangs.

I darted around the 1,100-mile example in full geek-out mode, snapping pics of every detail. It’s the very car I would have ordered (had I been rocking $9,300 in 1985). It had roll-up windows, a five-speed, vinyl seats, and the 5.0L engine—a drag racer’s dream. Carpenter let me slip into the driver’s seat and I imagined myself cranking the timing, burning the Gatobacks, and blowing off some nasty powershifts. And while that wasn’t going to happen, it was cool to grip the wheel and glide the T5 carefully through the gates.

For me, the Mustang 50th Anniversary Celebration could have ended right there. I’d come full circle, from dreaming about owning a 5.0, to purchasing my ’87 LX 5.0 (which I still own), to racing one, and then becoming editor of my favorite magazine—to now, years later, seeing the LX that got my heart racing on Mustangs.

As car junkies, isn’t that what we’re all after? It’s the memories of the cars and the people that I cherish. The car hobby has given me a plethora of wonderful experiences. And it’s my hope that our magazine and our website bring the same enjoyment to you and your family, so you can live your own Mustang dreams.