Think of it as Disney World for Ford lovers. For five days in June, the 152-acre Ford World Headquarters grounds in Dearborn was transformed into a Ford fantasyland, complete with 3,200 display cars, celebrities, concerts, concept vehicles, vintage race cars, as well as exhibits such as professional bull riders, a skate park, monster trucks, and rock climbing. With 225,000 jamming into Dearborn to help Ford celebrate its 100th anniversary, there were long lines just to get in-much like Disney World.
Of course, Mustangs are an important part of Ford's history, so the Road is Ours 100th Anniversary Celebration incorporated plenty of Mustang sights and sounds. In fact, we'll venture to say nearly half the cars on display were Mustangs, with a huge area set aside for Mustang show cars, a Mustang Club of America display, and SVT cars, including hundreds of SVT Cobras and Cobra Rs. Several months prior to the June 12-16 event, Ford put out a call for owners to apply for a spot at the 100th, mainly so the show area would include ultra-nice and interesting vehicles. An acceptance letter was a coveted piece of paper.
With the Mustang Club of America display serving as a hub, the Mustang show area was filled with a vast array of '65-'03 Mustangs, from Bosses and Shelbys to Pace Cars and Bullitts. Mustangs were also part of the two special displays in front of World Headquarters-the 25 Heart and Soul cars and the 100 Icons that Moved the World. For a peek at the Mustang's future, both Concept GTs-coupe and convertible-were showcased in the Ford Division tent. But, perhaps the most impressive gathering of all was in the Ford Racing section, where historic Ford competition vehicles were displayed both inside and outside, including many vintage Mustang race cars, from A/FX drag cars to Trans Am road racers.
Even though Mustangs have contributed much to the last 40 years of Ford's history, they were just a small part of the total 100th anniversary package. For $24.95, attendees were treated to the entire five-day affair, which included evening concerts (Earth, Wind, and Fire was canceled due to soggy conditions, but Toby Keith rocked the joint as scheduled on Saturday night), Model T rides, Ford Racing Night, and a Countdown to Kitty Hawk pavilion in celebration of the Wright Brothers' first flight.
Also included in the celebration were interactive displays for both adults and children, a Wheel of Fortune ceremony with Vanna White, and displays for all Ford divisions-Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, and Mazda. Basically, there was more to see and do than a single visitor could manage to see and do.
We hit on many of the Mustang highlights in the sidebar and photos. If you missed seeing it in person, well, you may have to wait another 100 years for your next opportunity.
Hitting The HighlightsThere was so much to see and do at Ford's 100th, we can't possibly cover it all here. Just editing our photos was tough enough. So, here's a synopsis of some of the more interesting activities.
Historic Racing Displays: We've never seen so many historic Ford race cars in one place. Here's a sampling: The Jerry Titus '68 Shelby Trans Am Mustang, all three of the '66 Le Mans-winning GT-40s, the Roush '92 IMSA GTS Mustang (Daytona 24-Hour winner), the Al Joniec '65 A/FX "Batcar" Mustang, the Gas Ronda '6811/42 Cobra Jet Mustang, and the Tasca Ford '69 Super Boss 429. And that's just a fraction of the cars displayed.
Dap Tour: On Saturday, the Mustang Club of America, Team Mustang, and the local UAW hosted a barbecue at the Dearborn Assembly Plant, where participants also received a rare, and what may have been the final, Mustang assembly-line tour at DAP. One hundred preselected Mustang owners were also chosen to have their cars photographed at the end of the line.
100 Icons That Moved The World: One significant vehicle from each year that Ford has been in business was displayed in front of World Headquarters. It was amazing how many milestone Fords were found for this exhibit. Mustangs included Vaughan Wyant's '6411/42 Indy Pace Car hardtop, Joseph Errante's original-owner '65 GT hardtop, John Regan's '70 Boss 429, and Jim and Rick Schmidt's 150-millionth Ford '79 hatchback.
Heart And Soul: Selected by journalists, the 25 Heart and Soul vehicles included a 1914 Model T, '49 Ford, '55 Thunderbird, and Bob Fria's (first hardtop) '6411/42 Mustang.
Model T Journey: They weren't Mustangs, but it was great to see original Model Ts used to ferry attendees around a closed course.
Celebrities: Ford racing celebrities on hand included Carroll Shelby, Parnelli Jones, Don Nicholson, John Force, Steve Saleen, Ned Jarrett, and a number of Winston Cup drivers who were conveniently in town for the weekend's race at Michigan International. Parnelli Jones even joined a group of Boss 302 owners for an impromptu photo session. William Clay Ford and Edsel Ford were also spotted on several occasions as they wandered through the festivities.
Concept Cars: They were all there, including the Concept GT coupe and convertible, all three existing Ford GTs, the Forty-Niner, and the Ford 427.
Driving The Proving Grounds: On Friday, participants had a chance to drive their cars on the famous Ford Proving Grounds, located near World Headquarters.