Jim Smart
June 1, 2002
Contributers: Jim Haskell Photos By: The Mustang Monthly Archives

The hardtops were produced for the Checkered and Green Flag contests, which were dealer incentives designed to both promote the new Mustang and indicate the Mustang's status as the official Indy 500 pace car for 1964. Each sales district arranged its dealers into groups based on sales volume in the preceding 12 months. A sales objective for April 1964 was established for each dealer in each group. Dealers who exceeded their sales objective by the greatest percentage in its group qualified to compete against all other group winners in the district.

Ford had already decided the total number of winners because the pace car replicas were assembled consecutively in mid-April 1964. The total number of winners, by district, was also predetermined since each of the pace car hardtops had a standard two-digit DSO code on the warranty plate. There were five standard-order DSO code pace car Mustangs per sales district for a total of 180 units. Each sales district determined the allocation of winners based on the best percentage of sales. The very best were declared Checker Flag winners. Second Place winners were Green Flag contest winners. Ford was aiming for an even split between the two contests. But it didn't turn out that way.

Since each sales district had considerable flexibility in conducting their contests and determining winners, the number of winners of each contest was inconsistent among the districts. There were many ties between dealers, particularly small-volume dealers. This created logistics issues across the land. Ford had already produced 180 hardtops for the two contests, but they needed more as a result of the ties. Approximately 10 more Pace Car White hardtops had to be produced in early May to meet the need. We say "approximately 10" because it has never been determined with documentation how many were produced. This is based on available documentation that addresses winning dealers.

Because these additional pace car hardtops were ordered internally by Ford, with no idea who the winning dealers would be at the time, they were ordered as DSO 84 (Home Office Reserve) units.

Checkered Flag winners (105 of them) were invited to Dearborn, Michigan, to pick up their free Mustang pace car hardtops in a nice ceremony with then-Ford Division General Manager Lee Iacocca. Dealers had the option of driving their winnings home or having them shipped. Green Flag winners had to stay home and pay for their prize with a $500 discount.

Who the winning dealers were might surprise you. Most of them were small-volume, small-town Ford dealers in communities with 5,000 or fewer people. Over 20-percent of these dealers were from towns with fewer than 2,000 people!

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