Friday, August 4, 2017

Who owns the first Ford Mustang ever sold?

If you are a Mustang fanatic then this may be a question that you have asked before and now the answer has been made known.  The answer will surprise you and even more so to know that the original owner still owns it today and the car is on the road again after 53 years.

In the spring of 1964 a 22 year old school teacher was looking to get her first taste of freedom and purchase a new set of wheels.  Gail Brown was living with her parents and teaching at a local elementary school in Chicago, Illinois and her only means of transportation was her mom’s 1957 Ford Fairlane 500, but at least it was a convertible.  She knew that her first car needed to be something special but had no idea what would unfold when she visited the Johnson Ford dealership in her hometown.  After looking at every car in the showroom she told the salesman that she just didn’t see anything that fit what she was searching for.  The salesman then told her “I’ve got something in the back that’s really new” and as he took her in a back storeroom he pulled the cover off of a shiny new 1965 Ford Mustang convertible that had not even been shown to the public yet.  Gail said “That’s me……..that’s what I want”!  The car was painted Skylight Blue and was equipped with the Rally Pac instrumentation to go with its 260 cu. in V8 engine. 

After trading in an old beater and getting her parents to pitch in a little to help her she purchased the car for a total of $3419.  Even if this was the end of the story, it would be a neat story, but the real kicker is that the purchase date of this car was on April 15th, two days before the car was unveiled at the New York World’s Fair.  Just by chance she became the owner of the first retail Ford Mustang known to be sold. (Talk about being at the right place at the right time)  Can you imagine the excitement this young girl was feeling as she experienced the joys of driving her own car and letting her hair blow in the wind? 

Gail recalls all the looks and waves that she got for the first few months as she began driving this all new American Sports car.  She says “I was the coolest teacher in school that year” and remembers how all the boys from the nearby middle school would stare as she drove by.  “I felt like a movie star everywhere I went”.

Just a couple of years later Gail married her sweetheart, Tom Wise and they began their family in a suburb of Chicago.  The Mustang served the family well and in 1974 it would become Tom’s daily driver even though it was beginning to show some wear.  Northern winters were not very kind to this all original car, so after some minor mechanical issues and daily wear and tear, the rusty and tired car was pushed into the driveway after a stolen battery episode in 1979.  Four children later as life moved along the car did not and was eventually tucked into the garage where it would spend the next 27 years.

Even though there were times when Gail would hint at selling the car, Tom convinced her to keep it and had plans of his own of restoring Gail’s classic to its original state.  After retiring from the Navy he made their dreams come true by beginning to restore the 65 convertible in 2007.  It took approximately three years but the car has been fully restored to its original beauty and is now wowing the crowds again after 50+ years!

These days Gail is afraid to drive it much in fear of scuffing her old friend but Tom enjoys driving it to local shows and sharing this incredible story with other Mustang fans.

In case you are wondering, yes the Wise kids now have kids of their own and one of the granddaughters has already asked Tom “Grandpa, can I have this car when I turn 16” 

As this classic American sports celebrates over 50 years on the road, it becomes clear to those who own a Ford Mustang that it’s more than just a car…..its part of the family.

On April 17, 2014 the Ford Mustang turned 50 years old and thousands of folks gathered at the Charlotte Motor speedway in North Carolina to have a massive birthday party and car show. Gail had her car on display at this event for all the show participants to see and enjoy. (I was fortunate enough to get my picture with it)

Every year the World waits to see what the next chapter in this car will bring, but I’m sure it will continue to capture the American spirit, because the classic features of this car have always been the key to its success.  Melanie Baker (Ford marketing manager) says “From the first days it went on sale in 1964, Mustang has appealed to a broad range of customers, including both women and men of all ages, thanks to its blend of style, performance and affordability”.  “Those attributes remain a part of the Mustang formula to this day”.

Thanks Gail for sharing your incredible story!

See Ya down the road…..Joseph Scott