By Huw Evans
Many of us who are into cars are often, also fascinated by airplanes. In the case of our favorite four-wheeled steed, there's not much needed to make a connection to one of the most legendary aircraft of all, the North American P-51 Mustang.
Arguably the best pursuit fighter of World War II, the Mustang, with its long range, could escort U.S. Army Air Force bombers to their targets and back, significantly reducing their losses and helping turn the tide against Germany and Japan. And among those fighter escort groups, the 332nd Fighter Group, consisting of the first African-American aviators, better known as the "Tuskegee Airmen, earned a reputation for exceptional skill in combat; losing far fewer bombers than other groups.
Their story of adversity, determination and triumph is the stuff of legend and movies, so it stands to reason, given other warbird-themed Ford Mustangs in the past, such as Roush's P-51 and the 2009 "Dearborn Doll" that a Tuskegee tribute would materialize. In conjunction with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture and Young Eagles auction at this year's Gathering of Eagles Fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin on July 26; Ford produced such a car, a one-off Mustang GT "Red Tails" edition that pays tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen.
The car, finished in polished aluminum with the signature red tail of the 332nd's P-51s; sports a 5.0-liter V8 with a 2.3-liter Ford Racing/Whipple supercharger, Ford Racing Handling Pack, side-exhaust, Shelby GT500 brakes, Forgiato 20-inch wheels plus rear seat delete and unique instrument cluster.
With an appropriate VIN (00051), the car, entered into the Young Eagles auction, sold for $370,000. That brings the total dollar amount of Ford vehicles, sold at this event to over $1.5 million (past examples include the F-22 Raptor inspired AV8R Mustang in 2008, the Dearborn Doll in 2009 and the Blue Angels Mustang in 2010, which celebrated a centenary of aviation in the United States.