During the Mustang 45th Anniversary Celebration, Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally (in r
At the Mustang 45th Celebration in Birmingham last April, a special group of owners and their Mustangs convened in front of the Barber Motorsports Park motorcycle museum. Forty-five years ago, these ten people purchased brand-new '641/2 Mustangs during the height of Mustang mania. Through divorces, children, accidents, job relocations, and overseas military service, they have held on to the car that reminds them of their youthful swagger. Today, they are a unique group who remember the thrill of taking delivery of a new Mustang and can still walk out into the garage to relive the experience.
Here are their stories.
Phil Florio with his wife Sharon
Phil Florio has the perfect answer for people who ask why he keeps his old Mustang: "When I get in, turn the key, and drive away, I'm 25 again."
It was March 1964 when Phil read about the new Mustang's 289 High Performance engine in Hot Rod magazine. "I knew I had to have one," Phil says. "I went down to my local Ford dealer on Long Island and asked him to order one. He said he didn't have any information about a Hi-Po Mustang. I just told him to order the car from the description in Hot Rod. I also told the salesman to call me when the car arrived at the dealership so I could be there-or they could keep the car. So I was there when it arrived, shipped covered in a bag. I wanted to keep all the paperwork because I knew I was going to keep the car a long time."
Forty-five years later, Phil still has his Hi-Po Mustang hardtop. He has driven the car 65,000 miles and it still has its original sheetmetal, powertrain, and most other components. He says the front bucket seats have been recovered and the door panels replaced.
"A lot of people tell me the Hi-Po engine wasn't available in the '64½, but then I show them the paperwork," Phil explains.
Phil and his wife, Sharon, currently live in Summerfield, Florida, where they are charter members of the North Central Florida Mustang club.
Alex Alexander and wife, Carolyn
When Edgar "Alex" Alexander purchased his '64½ convertible on the day after his 28th birthday, he never thought he'd still own it 45 years later. "It was special ordered when my first wife decided she had to have a Mustang convertible," Alex says. "I had a company car so I had no intentions of keeping it." But after a divorce, Alex took possession of the Mustang and still owns it today.
"The Mustang was terribly abused by my first wife while I was overseas in the military," Alex says. "She never changed the oil so the engine needed a rebuild at 70,000 miles. It wasn't garaged until 1974, but has been garaged ever since, sometimes for years at a time while not being driven." Alex says the car shows well today although a poor repaint from the 1990s is apparent.
Alex recalls two minor accidents that required body repairs, including passenger door replacement, and damage from tire chains while driving through a North Carolina snow storm. The seats had to be recovered after Alex "stupidly" left wheels and tires on the back seat during a long storage period.
Alex remembers the reaction to the new car during the first couple of months of ownership. "Whenever we parked it, there was always a group of people standing around and looking at it when we returned."
After years of moving around with the military, Alex and his wife of the past 30 years, Carolyn, now reside in Midway, Georgia.