WITH the 10 millionth Mustang rolling off the lines this week, Ford deliberately chose to build that car as a convertible, mirroring the look of the very first customer car owned by Tom and Gail Wise. Both cars were photographed together, but that nearly never happened.
You see, for many years the Wises had no idea they had the first Mustang. To them, it was just a mouldering wreck that had spent 27 years gently oxidising in their garage. Gail wanted it gone. Tom applied some wonky man maths and made the case for restoring it.
That was in 2006. At the time, the Mustang wasn’t worth a whole heap of money, even in showroom nick, but Tom was determined to bring it back into shape.
While researching parts for the car he became aware that it was a very early edition. Then he came across somebody claiming to own the very first Mustang. A look at his invoice showed that Gail bought the car a day earlier, on April 15th 1964, a couple of days before the car got its official unveil at the 1964 World’s Fair.
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As Gail explained to the Detroit Free Press, there was a big slug of serendipity involved in getting hold of the keys so early. That, and an unscrupulous salesman. The 22-year-old Gail was looking for a convertible and rather than lose the sale because there was no stock available, the Chicago dealer decided to sell her the skylight blue Mustang convertible that he had under wraps out back, awaiting its 17th April on sale date.
As it stands, the fully restored Mustang has 109,435 km on the clock and has appreciated a little since Gail handed over her USD$3447.50.
“It’s like being a movie star at 76,” Gail laughs. “I felt like a movie star at 22 when I bought the car. I mean, that was 54 years ago and we’re still talking about it.”