Two years ago, several of the surviving members of the original Shelby American team — aka the Original Venice Crew — met for dinner during the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Naturally, the conversation turned to the good old days and someone mentioned that the original Shelby Mustang GT350 was a terrific car — winning the SCCA National B-Production championship — but not really the car the group wanted to build.
Ford Mustang galloped into the consciousness of classic car enthusiasts throughout 2014 as the original pony car celebrated its 50th anniversary, and was featured as the centerpiece for many major events held coast-to-coast.
The official birth date was proclaimed as April 17, 1964, which marked the sports coupe’s unveiling to wild acclaim at the New York World’s Fair. To commemorate that day, thousands of Mustangs of every ilk took part in a pair of coinciding cross-country drives – one drive wouldn’t be enough – that took the herds to thunderous Mustang festivals in mid-April.
Although Mustang stole most of the glory, there were a number of other significant classic car anniversaries to crow about during the year, though for American drivers, none of them had the cultural significance of the first Mustang.
At a more global level was the 100th anniversary of Maserati, one of the world’s greatest racing and sports-car brands. The official Maserati Centennial gathering happened in Italy, naturally, with hundreds of vintage and contemporary models gathering in Cremona – where Maserati set a major speed record in 1929 – during a drive from Modena to Turin.
But Maserati also was celebrated worldwide with high-end car shows and concours d’elegance events choosing Maserati as honored marque and bringing out rare and historic examples of the high-performance cars for the public to marvel at.
That wasn’t the only important anniversary for Maserati. In May, the Indianapolis 500 honored the 75th anniversary of Maserati’s historic win of the 1939 race by Wilbur Shaw driving the Maserati 8CTF “Boyle Special.” The sleek race car, which Shaw also drove to victory in 1940, was back on the track before the Indy race as veteran race driver Johnny Rutherford took the restored beauty for a parade lap before the roaring crowd.
Dodge also hit the century mark during 2014, setting the date when the Dodge Brothers rolled out their first automobile in November 2014. The yearlong celebration seemed pretty low-key overall, although there was a major corporate party in July at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester Hills, Michigan, with a fine assemblage of vintage Dodge cars and concepts.
Also marking the occasion were 100th Anniversary Editions of the Charger and Challenger
Along with the Mustang, another significant domestic fun car celebrated 50 years. It was the groundbreaking 1964 Pontiac GTO, widely regarded as the muscle car that set the tone for the horsepower wars between American brands through the ’60s and early ’70s. That, as well as becoming an enduring subject for rock ‘n’ roll songs.
Sadly, Pontiac is no longer with us, so the celebration took on something of a muted tone. Although there was at least one big birthday party, held during the 2014 convention of the GTO Association of America car club in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.
A remarkable piece of America ingenuity also celebrated its 50th this year, the Meyers Manx dune buggy that was hand-built by Bruce Meyers from fiberglass and VW running gear in his Newport Beach, California, garage. The simple Manx was the first of its kind, which many others copied, and it became emblematic of the 1960s California beach culture.
Manx’s anniversary was officially celebrated in Washington, D.C., during the Historic Vehicle Association’s inaugural Cars at the Capitol automotive heritage celebration in May, when the iconic dune buggy became the second automobile entered into the National Historic Vehicle Register of the Library of Congress (the original Shelby Cobra Daytona race car was the first).
And speaking of Volkswagen, the Beetle marked the 65th year since its introduction to the United States in January 1949. A Dutch businessman became the first importer for VW, and only two of them were sold that first year. But Volkswagen of America established its headquarters on the East Coast later in 1949, and within just a few years, 10s of thousands of beetles were plying American roads.
One of the greatest sports racing cars of the 1950s, the Jaguar D-type, made its debut in 1954 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it roared to second place overall. For its 60th anniversary, the magnificent D-Type is remembered not only for its race-winning performance but for such innovative features as monocoque construction and disc brakes.
Finally, another European automaker celebrated an important milestone during 2014. For Swedish automaker Volvo, it was the 70th anniversary of the unveiling of its seminal compact car, the PV444, shown in prototype form in Stockholm during World War II. The automaker’s first unibody design, the PV444 would begin production in March 1947 and paved the way for Volvo’s legacy of sturdy, safe and well-conceived automobiles.
About a year and half ago, I drove to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in search of a Mustang and found a Jade Green 1969 Grande, 351 V8 for sale. I kind of knew from the start it would be my project car.
I loved the color and wheels — classic star chrome wheels — and all black interior.
Well, as early as June 2013 I started work on my stallion. First, I had the under carriage cleaned of all gunk and replace all hoses. I replaced the timing chain, battery, starter, voltage regulator, alternator, headliner, installed a new crate engine, JBA chrome tip headers, Flowmaster exhaust, new hood and Mach 1 scoop, and a transmission shift kit.
I thoroughly cleaned the firewall and engine compartment and then painted it with five coats of flat black. I repainted trunk and had it air brushed with yellow Master Sergeant Stripes in 3D.
I repainted the hood. I added new chrome Mustang-emblem seat belts. All this took about a year and six months.
I love my Mustang (Stallion now) and take much pride of the ‘stang inside and out and under the hood.
I currently cruise and go to local car shows in Virginia and West Virginia in a stallion that pulls about 400 horsepower, has a throaty roar and throws your head back against the seat.
— Curt R. Wright, Arlington VA
A lot of changes happened in my life during the ’60s. Some were tough and some were good experiences. In the ’70s, all was “HAPPY-GOOD.” First I meet my beautiful wife, Lilliam, and I bought my 1969 Mustang Mach 1, and my son Robert was born. To me, it couldn’t get any better than that.
Let me tell you how I came across and bought my “Dream Car.” One Monday morning I picked up the newspaper (no computer in those days, you know) and I recall the ad: “1969 Mustang Mach 1, V8 351 Cleveland Stick – Air, PB AM/FM radio, 8 track, 2300 miles, price $2750 at Johnson Ford in Miami, Florida,” and the phone number.
I called and spoke with the sales person, and I heard the good news that the car was still available. That afternoon after work I went to see it.
When I saw that beautiful machine I fell in love with it and said to myself “O’ Boy, I have to get this car.”
Without showing much interest in the car I checked it and asked the salesman why such low milage. He said that the original owner did not drive it much because it was stick shift and had traded it for an automatic vehicle.
The Mustang was in “show room” condition inside out. After a little bit of dealing back and forth, I finally bought it for $2,500 even. To me this was a great deal, because no matter what, I was determined to purchase this car. Finally, I’d bought the car of my dreams, a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1, 351 Cleveland, 3 on the floor. Wow, this was a dream come true.
That same evening, I picked up my fiancee and we went for our first ride, she loved it and the first thing she said to me was “you have to teach me how to drive stick shift, and added, “I will have no problem learning how to drive it, I learned to drive in New York City you know.”
After three years of owning the car, my wife became pregnant, and with a baby on the way we had the need to get a much larger car. With a broken heart and left with no other choice I had to trade it in to accommodate our new family.
Well, folks, the years have come and gone but 43 years later, we still talk about our Mustang. I have these photos in my iPhone to show when we go to car shows, hoping to find it some day, if it does exist.
I do not have the VIN number, but as you can see in one of the pictures, the license tag number was Florida 1-133928 (1970-1971). If anyone knows the way to trace a car by using the tag number, please contact me at email@example.com
Thank you for reading our story.
Robert & Lilliam Brice, Homestead FL
A Texas couple in a 1966 Ford Mustang achieved the first-ever threepeat of consecutive victories in Great Race history by winning the 2014 Maine-to-Florida classic car competition.
While they were at it, Barry and Irene Jason also scored a couple of other firsts. No one before them had ever scored a perfect day in the time-distance rally contest, as they did on Day One. And no one had ever won the Great Race in a post-war car, a difficult feat because of a scoring system heavily handicapped toward older vehicles.
So that’s three wins and three firsts, and the reward for Jasons’ efforts this year was a $50,000 first-place check that they collected at the finish line on Sunday.
The Jasons of Keller, Texas, won the 2012 and 2013 Great Races in a 1935 Ford coupe, but this year they opted for their bright-red 1966 Mustang, a six-cylinder coupe favorably equipped with air conditioning. This is the 12th year that Barry Jason, an electrical engineer, and Irene Jason, a retired school administrator, have run the cross-country race.
The Great Race, an annual event founded in 1983, is a long-distance rally for pre-1972 vehicles. This year, the 2,300-mile race started June 21 in Ogunquit, Maine, and finished Sunday in The Villages near Ocala, Florida (click here to see our Eye Candy photo gallery).
Ninety teams started out in the competition, with a number of them dropping out before the finish because of typical old-car mechanical breakdowns. The Great Race visited 19 cities along the way with local spectators creating a festival atmosphere at each stop.
In the last 50 years I have had 2 1966 Ford Mustangs. Last year I go the itch for my third.
After looking for 9 months I found a mostly restored ’66 that my mechanic approved. It is Arcadian blue with medium blue interior and 65,500 actual miles. It has factor air, power steering, power brakes, and a 289 with automatic.
The third owner and seller bought the car to cross off an item on his bucket list.
The car was bought new in 1966 in Houston, Texas, and I live in a small town adjacent to Houston.
The car was stripped down to metal and repainted. The body and frame are straight and have no rust.
The previous owner kept it original, but I put chrome valve covers and air cleaner cover, 15-inch chrome wheels and new tires, 134a air-conditioning compressor, racing stripes, and added white faces to the instruments and air horns on it.
I had to replace the front and rear springs, rebuild the power steering, replace the upholstery and rebuild the carburetor.
The engine, tranny with a shift kit had been rebuilt.
Now I have a very nice-running and great-looking third Mustang. I love the way people comment nice things about the car when I drive it around town. I sure enjoy driving it.
With the big 50th anniversary of the Mustang, prices of the classic first version of the Mustang, the 1964½ (technically a 1965 model) through 1966, have been moving up. The best convertibles and fastbacks with the highest horsepower engines can bring well over $65,000 and there has been renewed interest in vintage Mustangs of all years. All isn’t lost however for the Mustang collector on a budget.
Here are five of our favorite Mustangs that are still affordable:
|1964½-66 Convertible (six cylinder): If you simply must have the first version of the Mustang in a convertible and have $25,000 or less to spend on a nice one, well then you’re likely to have to settle for the six-cylinder model instead of the 260 or 289 V-8. And the six of the ’60s was nothing like today’s 300-plus hp base V-6. Nope, the 200-cubic-inch straight-six was good for just 120 hp, so performance was leisurely at best. No matter; the six still looked great.|
|1964 ½-66 V-8 Coupe: If you’d really rather have a V-8, there’s still time to find one for less than $25,000. Granted, it won’t be a swoopy fastback or a drop-top, but the basic hardtop is still a pretty car. Don’t expect the highest horsepower versions of the Mustang 289-cubic-inch V-8 at this price point, but nice cars are still out there. For now anyway.|
|1971-1973 Mach I 302 Coupe: “Mach I” was one of the more audacious names of the Pony Car era, however in actual fact, its top speed was a bit shy of the speed of sound. But it had pumped up good looks and none other than Sean Connery as James Bond drove a ’71 Mach 1 in the movie “Diamonds are Forever.” As usual, the biggest engine version has sailed past affordability, but the 302 V-8 Mach Ican still be had for around $25,000 if you look hard enough.|
|1984-86 SVO: This selection will likely get the trolls’ attention: a four-cylinder Mustang on a list of collectible Mustangs. But the SVO wasn’t a Pinto-based Mustang II or your dental hygienist’s 88 hp four-banger Fox Body Mustang; the SVO sported a turbo 2.3-liter four that made as much horsepower as the 5.0-liter V-8 of the day, a biplane rear spoiler, unique front fascia, and hood complete with a totally cool NACA duct-style air scoop. It was faster and more expensive than the V-8. Fuel prices never climbed the way that the industry expected, and the 5.0-liter V-8 was further developed with new, more-efficient cylinder heads, and eventually fuel injection, giving it better gas mileage and much more horsepower with less complication and expense, so the sophisticated SVO disappeared after 1986.|
|1987-93 GT 5.0 Convertible: We like the 1989 model because it was the 25th anniversary year of the Mustang (which Ford barely noticed). The Fox Body Mustang might not have been the most glamorous body style ever, but it was one of the cars responsible for ending the “Malaise Era” of sluggish and dull American cars. With the 5.0-liter V-8 boosted to 225 hp, in 1987, the Mustang brought cheap V-8 performance back to the masses. Care for something a bit newer? We also love the 2008-09 Bullitt Edition Mustang and think it’s a future collectible.|
The big celebrations at the New York Auto Show and at speedways in Charlotte and Las Vegas may be over, but festivities staged to observe the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang continue.
This weekend, May 3-4, the Petersen Automotive museum presents Mustang Madness which will include:
- An all-Mustang car show.
- A look at the next-generation 2015 Mustang that doesn’t arrive in Ford dealerships until sometime this fall.
- The unveiling of the museum’s Mustangs Forever: 50 Years of a Legend exhibit.
- Live interviews with various “Mustang Heroes.”
- A visit Saturday morning by Mustang RTR creator and world drift-driving champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. and one Sunday morning by Beau Boeckmann, president of Galpin Auto Sports (Galpin Ford is the sponsor for the special weekend Mustang celebration at the Petersen).
- Additional appearances by Bob Fria with the first Ford Mustang, by Hollywood Hot Rods’ Troy Ladd with his custom Mustang, and by Pure Vision’s Martini Mustang.
- A “Value of the Mustang” seminar Sunday afternoon by experts from Hagerty Collector Car Insurance.
- Screenings of both the 1974 and 2000 versions of the movie, Gone in 60 Seconds, with the Eleanor Mustangs from both movies on display.
- Food tents, live music and a play area and scavenger hunt for children.
- A special museum rooftop Mustang Lounge.
Speaking of the all-Mustang car show, there will be prizes awarded, and Henry Ford III will present a special Ford Heritage Award.
For more information and a time schedule, visit the www.petersen.org website.
What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang than getting together with a bunch of like-minded enthusiasts and driving the original pony cars across the United States, with a big birthday party at the end of the trip?
That’s the plan when the Mustangs Across America 50th Anniversary Drive leaves Los Angeles on April 10 and heads for Charlotte, N.C., on a seven-day tour. And this is just one of three cross-country drives that are being called the largest-ever mobilization of Mustangs.
I was born in Dearborn, Mich., on July 26, 1965. I was among the last of the Mustangs built in the 1965 model year. My original owner purchased me from the only Ford dealer in Rantoul, Ill., in August of that year.
In 1967 I moved to Lakenheath, England. I traveled the English countryside and to London many times. I even saw the Queen once! I have cruised the German Autobahn with the finest German autos. My handling package helped me climb the Swiss Alps safely and my bright red color and sleek fastback design brought me much attention on the streets of Paris.
In 1976 a friend of my current owner purchased me from my original owner and brought me back to the United States. In 1977 I was repainted my original color. I moved to Arizona and was adopted by my current owner in 1978. At that time I had just over 100,000 miles with only a valve job on my engine. I soon started on my first motor/transmission transplant.
I retired in1982 with 200,000 miles of daily transportation. Over the next 10 years end though I came out only for pleasure drives, time was taking its toll on me. So after a year of indecision and potential replacement search, my loyal owner decided to keep me and give me a new lease on life.
Jim Smart, editor of Mustangs and Fords, defined the process of maintaining a stock appearance with better-than-original performance on the road as a “restification,” now known as “restromod.”
My restored process went from October 1993 to May 1994. I am now on my “second 30 years” and plan to outlive my owner!
“Loyal” owner Dale Grim adds some details to the car’s story: The Mustang went to England with a fellow member of the U.S. Air Force. The original owner sold it to another airman, who eventually brought it back to the U.S. when stations at Williams Air Force Base near Phoenix, where Grim, also in the Air Force, saw the car and eventually bought the car. Grim has driven 46,000 miles since the 1994 restoration, shows it frequently, and already has made plans to be at the Mustang 50th anniversary celebration this year in Las Vegas.