Through the years, there has been a lot of speculation about Mustang Number One. Based on what we had been told by retired Ford executives, historians, and others who were there at the time, we believed 5F08F100001, a Wimbledon White V-8 convertible, rolled off the Dearborn assembly line first, on Monday, March 9, 1964. However, through the committed efforts of one man, Southern California's Bob Fria, we're not convinced this tidy, time-honored piece of lore is so true anymore.
Bob, a retired United Airlines captain, became committed to learning the truth about Mustang production when he purchased 5F07U100002 in 1997. His purchase wasn't only 100002, it was the first production Mustang hardtop built with historical significance in every respect. It was worthy of extensive research and only the finest restoration effort. When Bob began the restoration, there were distinctive features that made his Mustang unlike any others he'd seen before. Bob told us 100002 had unusual stampings and unconventional manufacturing techniques.
To understand 100002's significance, you have to understand how Mustang production began in the first place. The Mustang production story really doesn't begin on Monday, March 9, 1964 with 5F08F100001. It begins even earlier, in January and February of that year, when Ford bucked and built approximately 150 pre-production Mustangs at the Dearborn Assembly Plant.
For years, we were never certain how these "pre-production" Mustangs were serialized. One theory said they were serialized as '64 models, then destroyed. Another theory was they were serialized as '65 models. When Bob began his restoration in 1997, his findings with 100002 supported the latter theory: that Ford assembled approximately 150 pre-production Mustang units serialized as '65 models. Based on Bob's research and news articles written in February 1964, Ford built approximately 150 '65 Mustangs at Dearborn prior to the March 9 startup date. These Mustangs were numbered 100001 through approximately 100173. All are believed to have the "05C" March date code, although they were bucked and assembled in February 1964.
Bob picks up the story: "As reconstructed from all available sources, the first five Mustangs assigned serial numbers were sold in Canada. Only an educated guess can be made as to why. The next 16 were built for display at the 1964 World's Fair in New York."
Despite all of the theories we've subscribed to through the years, Bob's version is pretty solid. It appears certain, based on his findings, that Ford built around 150 Mustangs, designated as pre-production units, prior to the March 9 startup date for assembly line training and testing, ultimately for export and show purposes. A few were exported to Alan Mann Racing in England to be built as Monte Carlo race cars. Others were shipped to Holman-Moody in North Carolina and constructed as race cars. The rest were delivered to airport and hotel lobbies around the country to tease the public.
The five for Canadian export were shipped to each Canadian sales district for display in Ford showrooms. At least one Raven Black hardtop, 5F07K100148, was built for Henry Ford II and enhanced by Ford Design. Another one, serial number undetermined, was built for William Clay Ford.
Ford recognizes 5F08F100001, a Wimbledon White V-8 convertible (see our Nov. '03 issue), as the first production Mustang. It was delivered to George Parsons Ford in St. Johns, Newfoundland, in Eastern Canada, and purchased by airline pilot Stanley Tucker. It survives today at The Henry Ford in Dearborn.
Based on Bob's research, 100003 survives somewhere in Canada. He tells us that 100004, a Rangoon Red V-8 hardtop, remains with its original owner in Canada. The whereabouts of 100005 is unknown. More recently in South Georgia, 5F08F100006, one of the 12 World's Fair convertibles used on Walt Disney's Magic Skyway, was purchased by Allan Shepley of Mustang Central and will undergo a major restoration. These facts support Bob's theory about Mustang production startup.
Bob's Caspian Blue hardtop, 5F07U100002, was shipped to Whitehorse Motors Ford in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, in western Canada. According to Moe Grant, former general manager of Whitehorse Motors, 100002 was shipped to his dealership in error, arriving after the Mustang's introduction in May 1964. It was supposed to have been shipped to Brown Brothers Ford, a larger dealership in Vancouver, in time for the April 17 introduction. Because it was cost-prohibitive to ship the car back to Vancouver, it made sense to keep it in Whitehorse and sell it there.
Wayne McKenna, a Whitehorse Motors salesman, told us, "I hated that car because it had no horsepower and no options." Base sticker-priced at $2,368, the first production Mustang hardtop was void of virtually every Mustang option, equipped only with 13-inch wheels, an unsynchronized three-speed manual transmission, and the anemic 170ci six. Whitehorse Motors installed an engine-block heater for the extremely cold Yukon environment. Other than that, 100002 would roll into private ownership without options. But real estate agent Doug Wooton didn't get the Mustang for the base price. He had to cough up $3,200 in Canadian dollars and trade in a '57 Plymouth. "We normally would never have taken a '57 Plymouth in trade, but we were so anxious to get rid of that Mustang, we would have taken almost any deal," McKenna told Bob.
Wooten owned 100002 until 1973, when it was traded in at Yukon Motors for a new Pontiac. It was immediately resold to a Hungarian silver miner, who lived in Mayo in the Yukon territory. In the years that followed, 100002 experienced a lot of abuse in the Canadian wilderness. In March 1977, it was traded in at Yukon Auto Brokers, a Datsun/Nissan dealership in Whitehorse. Several months later, it was sold to Joel Kostelnick of Whitehorse, who drove the car for a few months. Greg Schoeman, also of Whitehorse, took possession in April 1978. Several months later, William Schoeman bought 100002 from his son. The Mustang then underwent a number of restoration efforts, including a repaint in gray and a replacement engine, until it was sold in 1984. In the years that followed, there was a succession of six owners, leading up to Scott McMullen of Temecula, California, who sold the car to Bob with 93,686 miles. Bob learned of 100002 through a classified ad in Hemmings Motor News.
When Bob began the restoration in June 1998, he understood his responsibility to history. Not only did he need to restore 100002 to exact detail, he needed to tell its story accurately, which proved to be tougher than restoring the car. There were hundreds of telephone calls, letters, and trips to confirm the car's history. Of all the conversations Bob had with previous owners, Whitehorse Motors, and Ford during his research, few proved as fruitful as his visits with a retired Ford chassis engineer, the late Bob Negstad, who witnessed Mustang development and production startup firsthand.
As Bob worked on the body, he couldn't help but notice irregularities that made it different from other Mustangs. There were unusual stampings and manufacturing techniques that looked more "prototype" than mass production. Conversations with Negstad revealed a turn of events none of us had been familiar with prior to Bob's research: the bucking of Mustang bodies at the Pilot Plant in Allen Park, Michigan, and their shipment to the Dearborn Assembly Plant for serializing and assembly.