Those of us who show our Mustangs enjoy the ego trip of a show trophy. Others get the thrill of having their Mustang featured in a magazine. Still others may achieve the big spotlight-a role in a movie, television show, or commercial. So imagine having your Mustang featured in a media blitz from coast to coast.
In the fall of 1997, '6411/42 convertible owner Dave Williams received a call from the National Capital Region Mustang Club's Richard Porter, who had been asked to locate a Mustang convertible to be used as the model for the illustration on a new Mustang postage stamp. It seems the U.S. Postal Service was doing a series of stamps celebrating the great achievements of the 20th century. On the USPS Web site, the public was asked to vote for the greatest achievements of each decade. For the '60s, the Mustang received 371,804 votes, good enough for the No. 3 spot behind man walking on the moon with 534,734 votes and The Beatles with 380,177 votes.
To illustrate the Mustang stamp, the USPS needed a nice example of a '65 Mustang convertible. Dave was all too happy to oblige with his Rangoon Red '6411/42 convertible. On a winter day in Virginia, with snow and ice on the ground, a photographer for the USPS photographed Dave's Mustang in front of his home. The images would be used by Carl Herrman and Keith Birdsong to illustrate the '65 Mustang on the commemorative postage stamp.
After his Mustang was photographed for the postage stamp in the winter of 1997-1998, Dave forgot all about it. Then, in September 1999, he received his copy of the Mustang Club of America's Mustang Times magazine. In that issue was a news release announcing the introduction of the Mustang postage stamp on September 17. On the stamp was Dave's Rangoon Red convertible in exact detail, right down to the V-8 badges, missing radio antenna, wheel covers, and incorrectly positioned rearview mirror. Dave was also asked to display his Mustang at the stamp's dedication a couple of weeks later in Washington.
The history of Dave's Mustang dates back to May 12, 1964, when Tom Werbe of Indianapolis stopped by the local Ford dealership for a look at the new Mustang. He spotted a red convertible being unloaded behind the dealership and quickly snapped it up, even though it didn't have the options he wanted. Strangely, the Mustang did not have a radio, nor was it equipped with outside rearview mirrors. Hatfield Motors installed the mirror, hence its incorrect location. A radio was never installed, making this drop-top decidedly unusual because most Mustangs came with an AM radio from the factory.
For years, Dave's convertible led a sheltered, country-club life, remaining in the Werbe family for many years and racking up only 40,000 miles. It changed ownership several times before Dave found it for sale in the Washington Post classifieds in 1982. It was a terrific find for anyone who loves Mustangs: 289-4V, four-speed, 3.00:1 gears, and Rangoon Red. Several years later, Dave would undertake a full-scale restoration, performed by his brother, Chris.
Because Dave's '6411/42 is a pleasure cruiser, it isn't a perfect specimen. The finish is striking to be sure and the interior is certainly original. Beneath the hood is Ford's 289-4V Regular Fuel V-8, available only in 1964 and only in the Mustang. Road dust covers this 289 almost any time of year because it's driven whenever the unpredictable Washington, D.C. climate permits.
Dave Williams feels honored that both Richard Porter and the USPS thought of his Mustang for something as significant as a postage stamp. Both Dave and the Mustang have achieved the spotlight and immortality by being part of U.S. Postal Service history. The next time you visit your local U.S. Post Office, opt for the '60s commemorative Mustang postage stamp, and remember what it took for this '60s icon to get there.