During our photo session with Mustang No. 1 at Greenfield Village, we had a chance to closely inspect, and even drive (see Hoofbeats, page 4), the historic convertible. It's not a concours car by any means-especially underneath and under the hood. Two years of driving in the Canadian far east (almost in the Greenland time zone) took its toll on the undercarriage, now exhibited as surface rust and the dinged-up exhaust system. The exterior paint has its share of nicks and chips, but the interior is almost perfect. Remarkably, the plasti-chrome on the instrument panel is like brand new.
As soon as Mustang No. 1's refurbishing was complete, the car was trucked to New York City for a Mustang 39th anniversary press conference at the New York Auto Show. During Ford's 100th anniversary celebration, the convertible was displayed at Greenfield Village, where it also participated in a couple of parades. Mustang No. 1 has also been invited to Nashville for the Mustang Club of America's 40th Anniversary Celebration.
After 37 years of mostly storage, it's great to see the first production Mustang, now on the road again, doing what it was designed to do in 1964-generate publicity for Ford's Mustang.
The Captain's Tale
In early April 1964, some two weeks before the Mustang's official introduction on the 17th, Captain Stanley Tucker was out for a drive in his old Pontiac and noticed a large crowd at George Parsons Ford in his hometown of St. Johns, Newfoundland. Stopping to check out the commotion, Tucker spotted the new Wimbledon White Mustang convertible. Smitten by the car, Tucker decided on the spot that he wanted to buy the Mustang, eventually corralling the dealership owner, George Parsons, to ask for immediate delivery. Parsons wanted to hold on to the car for a few more days to attract attention, but Tucker persuaded him into a next-morning delivery.
And so, Captain Tucker drove home the following day not knowing he had purchased 5F08F100001, the first production Mustang.
Neither did Ford. Shortly after Tucker's purchase, the dealership called Tucker to tell him they had sold the car by mistake. Ford wanted the car back. Apparently, Mustang No. 1 had toured Canada as a promotional vehicle before it ended up at George Parsons Ford. It was not supposed to be offered for sale.
In 1984, Mustang No. 1 was rolled out of storage and into a display inside the Henry Ford
Tucker, then 33 years old and single, was enamored with his Mustang convertible and refused to give it up. For the next two years, he drove his Mustang, putting 10,000 miles on the odometer. Then, in 1966, Ford got serious about retrieving the first production Mustang. According to an interview with Tucker by Mustang Monthly's Jim Smart in 1983, Ford offered Tucker a brand-new '66 Mustang convertible, optioned to Tucker's specifications, in trade for 100001. Tucker accepted. "What the heck," he told Mustang Monthly, "There was a new car in the deal. But it was actually foolish on my behalf when I think about it today."
Since the mid-'80s, 5F08F100001 has been mostly on display at The Henry Ford.
According to Tucker, when he ordered his new '66 Mustang from George Parsons Ford, he put a big "X" across the entire order sheet. However, he did decline the 289 High Performance engine after learning about its limited warranty, selecting the 289 4V instead. Tucker ordered a Silver Frost convertible with a black top, black Decor Group interior, Styled Steel wheels, air conditioning, AM/cassette, and even a television.
As soon as Mustang No. 1 reached its 20th year, it was hauled out of storage and used for
Ford actually publicized the trade as "Number One for One Million and One," with Tucker receiving Mustang No. 1,000,001 during the Millionth Mustang assembly line ceremony at the Dearborn Assembly Plant on March 2, 1966. "I spent some time with Iacocca and the boys," Tucker said. "They even set me up with some of the girls in the office!"
In the fall of 1966, Mustang No. 1 was delivered to the Henry Ford Museum, where it sat in storage for 18 years before meeting the museum's 20-year-old qualification for display. Tucker, meanwhile, drove his Silver Frost convertible for five years, then sold it to a St. Johns' mechanic.