At 82 years old, Lee Iacocca is a seasoned individual with a firm handshake and solid conviction, as whet-stoned sharp as he was when he sold Henry Ford II on the idea to build a sporty, four-place automobile that would become an American icon.
The Mustang was a tough sell for Lee, who finally convinced Mr. Ford that the car was a good idea because hundreds of thousands of baby boomers were coming of age and they wanted sportier cars than Ford's stodgy lineup. After widening the prototype a pinch to satisfy Henry, Lee sent the Mustang to market where it became a phenomenal overnight success and changed the public's perception of Ford Motor Company forever.
Amazingly, Lee never owned a new Mustang, which is ironic considering his role in the car's runaway success. Instead, he did exactly what he was supposed to when he was a Ford executive-drive and evaluate all kinds of automobiles. When he wasn't doing that, a driver picked him up at his Bloomfield Hills home outside of Detroit for the ride to and from Ford World Headquarters across town in Dearborn.
When Lee turned 50 in 1974, his wife, Mary, presented him with a Caspian Blue '6411/42 Mustang convertible, which was located and crafted by Lee's friend, Hank Carlini. The car was like new, freshly repainted and trimmed with custom pinstriping that included a horse's head at the leading edge. Hank originally penned the name "Iacocca" in this location, but Lee had him change it to a horse's head. Because Hank liked the Interior Dcor Group, he fitted the car with all the "Pony Interior" trimmings, as conceived by late Ford-stylist Damon Woods.
On July 14, 2006, Bob Fria, from the Mustang Owners Club of California, and I rolled up to Lee's iron gate. I saw his Mustang convertible at MOCC's Mustangs In The Park show a few weeks earlier. It was the first-and probably the only-Mustang show he would ever bring it to because it now belongs to his daughter, Lia. The car is significant not only for what it is-a Mustang-but also for what it means.
The Iacocca Mustang is about as you might expect for one of the oldest restorations out there. Virtually unchanged from 1974 when Mary presented it to Lee, it's a Dearborn-built, F-code 260 convertible assembled in June 1964 and delivered new to DSO 73, Salt Lake City. It's unknown where Hank found the car or how it wound up in Detroit.
The Mustang is now garage-kept and driven rarely. Before it arrived at Mustangs In The Park in June 2006, it had no brakes and had to be repaired before being driven to the show. Had you been cruising Southern California's 405 freeway that day, you would've seen the Iacocca family cruising along with the top down in the California haze.
Although the thought may have crossed your mind-and ours-Lee's Mustang isn't for sale and never will be.