50 Years of Ponies and Three Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About the Mustang
Yes – that’s a Ford Mustang station wagon. And it almost happened back in 1966.
The Ford Mustang recently celebrated a milestone anniversary the same way it debuted a half-century ago – with a dramatic unveiling atop the observation deck of New York’s Empire State Building. Back in 1965 a prototype Ford Mustang convertible was debuted on the deck overlooking Manhattan. No one new that this Big Apple debut would make such a big impact. Oh, but it did!
Affectionately known as the Pony car, the Ford Mustang has become one of the most iconic of American cars. So, what more fitting way to debut the 2015 limited edition GT model than with an unveiling reminiscent of the original – and just in time to kick off the 2014 New York International Auto Show? Only 1,964 of the celebratory model will be made, in recognition of the car’s original display at the 1964 World’s Fair. Each will be made in one of the two colors of the Ford’s logo – white or blue; will boast special chrome headlights around the grille, windows and tail lights; and will be the only 2015 Mustang with a faux gas cap badge on the rear, where the cap originally sat.
But there are a few more informational tidbits that perhaps only the most diehard of classic ‘Stang enthusiasts know. Let E3 Spark Plugs fill you in:
- The Pony was almost a Cougar – and we don’t mean in the “Mrs. Robinson” way. Yep – that was the intended moniker of America’s favorite muscle car. In fact, Ford already had a slew of cougar-adorned badges and emblems ready to go. But then came a suggestion by executive stylist John Najjar, who just so happened to be a big fan of the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane. The suggestion stuck – and we’re eternally thankful it did.
- Contrary to popular belief, the first person to own a Mustang was not a big shot airline pilot, but a young elementary school teacher who had no idea what she was getting. It’s true that the Pony car bearing the lowest serial number to be sold to the public went to Captain Stanley Tucker, a pilot with Canada’s Eastern Provincial Airlines. But just a few days before Capt. Tucker bought his Pony, 22-year-old Gail Wise picked up a baby blue convertible model from a Chicago dealership – two days before the car’s World’s Fair unveiling. And yes – she still has it to this day. Turns out Capt. Tucker’s purchase was a lucky fluke anyway. The Wimbledon White convertible with serial number 5F08F100001 that had been delivered to George Parsons Ford at the far eastern end of Canada in St. Johns, Newfoundland was one of about 180 early examples that was intended to be used for internal testing and promotional purposes only. When Ford officials got wind of the mishap, they sought Tucker out and offered to buy it back. But he was having so much fun zipping around town in his Pony car that he just couldn’t give it back. Eventually he did – in a deal with Ford that landed him in the driver’s seat of the one millionth Mustang to roll off the assembly line.
- The Mustang almost galloped into grocery-getter territory. That’s right. In a gutsy move that that ultimately didn’t pan out, Ford reportedly went as far as making two Mustang Aspen station wagons in 1966. While beehive-haired moms of the day likely were disappointed that the Aspen never went into mass production, we’re eternally thankful that Ford saw the error of its ways and nixed this potential automotive travesty in the bud.
Which is your favorite Pony car of the past five decades? Post your pics and thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.