An interesting story comes to us from the site of Northern Illinois Classic Auto where a blaze in their showroom this past Monday night almost destroyed the “alleged” first 1964 Ford Mustang to come off of the assembly line. The value of the car is an estimated $5 million.
The short piece in the Chicago Tribune reported on the fire and probably had no idea the controversy this car is involved in.
We posted a piece back in March that covered the history of this almost deep fried icon. It’s worth repeating -
When the 1964 ˝ Ford Mustang debuted, it caused an immediate sensation. Muscle car enthusiasts snapped them up in record numbers and the Mustangs quickly became highly collectible cars. No Mustang became quite so coveted as that very first Mustang that came off the production line. In fact, the first Mustang is such a collector's prize, there are two of them-- at least two different locations claim the distinction of having the first production Mustang.
Depending on whom you ask, the first production Mustang either sits at the Dearborn, Michigan Henry Ford Museum or is being offered for sale by a used car dealer just outside of Chicago.
www.classicmusclecars.com tells a different story. He says the car the he has for sale with a serial number of 100212, is the first production Mustang. The car also has a steep $5.5 million price tag. According to Paddock, there were many pre-production Mustangs built by Ford but were never intended to be sold.
"There were between 185 and 211 preproduction Mustangs built," Paddock says, and "all those preproduction cars, including Mustang 100001, were not supposed to be sold. They were supposed to go to dealers for promotional purposes or to shows, including the World's Fair, but none of them was meant for retail sales.”
At issue is the date of the first true production Mustangs, says Radock. "First, we are not saying anything derogatory about the car at the museum," says Paddock. "But those preproduction cars all have a build date of '05C,' which means they were built on March 5. The actual date for the first production cars was March 9, signified by '09C' on the build plate. In our opinion, and I think we've got the facts on our side; we have the first production car. Those others were all preproduction and were not intended for sale. This is the last untold story of the muscle-car era," said Paddock. "We do tremendous research on everything we sell, and when we get all done with our research, we're going to prove our point."
Stanley Tucker, an airline pilot, was the original owner of Mustang 10001 after the dealer in Canada sold it by mistake, but not long after Tucker purchased the Mustang, Ford decided that they wanted it back. It took Ford a few years of negotiating with Tucker, but he finally agreed to give back the coveted Mustang 10001 in exchange for a 1966 Mustang. Tucker's Mustang made its way back to Michigan where it became a part of the “Automobile in American Life” exhibit in 1987.
Adding to the confusion, Mustang 10001 may not be the first Mustang to roll off the line. There are those who make the claim that Mustang 10002 may have been the first. Bob Casey of the Henry Ford Museum says, "The owner of Mustang serial number 2 has done exhaustive research on this subject, and he makes a strong case that his car, a coupe, might actually have been the first car to come down the line. It would make sense; a coupe is easier to build, less complex than a convertible. So what I like to say is that the first production Mustang may be different from the first Mustang produced."