The Life and Times of the First Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang, one of the most iconic of American classic cars, experienced some interesting “hiccups” when the first models were sold in 1964.

Ford Mustang: Serial Number One

The Ford Mustang is undoubtedly one of the most iconic of American classic cars. It turns out that the very first Mustang ever sold really shouldn’t have been sold at all!

Official production of the Mustang began on March 9, 1964, at Ford’s plant in Dearborn, Michigan. The first models began hitting the showrooms a few weeks later, and an official “street date” was set for April 17.

Four days before that official release date, Stanley Tucker, a Canadian airline pilot, noticed a crowd gathering as he drove past the Ford dealership in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Stopping in to see what all the fuss was about, he discovered that the dealership had just unveiling the new model. Tucker caught Mustang fever, and by day’s end he had made up his mind that he just had to have that car. The next day he returned to the showroom, and, after offering a check for the full amount, convinced a salesman to sell him the showroom model three days before the official street date, making him the first Ford Mustang owner – and the exclusive one for a very brief initial period!

What Tucker didn’t even realize at the time (and neither did the salesman either, apparently) was that the car he had bought was actually one of a handful of pre-production models. Not only that, but it was the very first of that pre-production batch, bearing serial number 5F08F100001 (Serial Number One), and was never actually intended for sale!

Executives at Ford became aware of the error a couple of weeks later (one wonders about the consequences for the hapless young salesman at this time) and reached out to Stanley, offering to buy back the car, but Stanley refused. Over the next couple of years he put about 10,000 miles on his new, prized ride. By that time, the Ford Mustang had taken off like wildfire and almost a million units had hit the streets. Ford reached out to Stanley again, this time with an offer he wasn’t able to turn down: in exchange for his Serial Number One, he could have Serial Number One Million, fully equipped with any and all available options he specified. (And Stanley did indeed opt for almost every add-on available, marking the submitted option sheet with a single large “X,” and declining only the upgrade to a High Performance 289 engine, since it came with a shorter warranty period.)

Everyone drove away happy. Serial Number One was sent to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, where it remains on display today. As for Stanley’s Number One Million, he drove it daily for several years – including through the nastiest weather and roads that Canadian winters can throw at a vehicle. He finally sold it to a mechanic sometime in the 1970s, and its ultimate fate is lost in obscurity.


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