The Ford Mustang, of which you can see a few pictures here, is not only a very special one, but it also wraps itself in a special story.
When people were already working on the new 'sports car' in the American town of Dearborn at the Ford Motor Company in the early 1960s, the designers had already had fun with the drawing of a convertible and a fastback coupe. That of course didn't mean that it was over with that? A Sedan version, an Estate could still be added ... The management of the company also played with different thoughts, an absolute two-seater, who with a few adjustments could go into the world as a real sports car! Vince Gardner - talented and freelance designer - had made a name for himself with the Cord 810 and Auburn in the 1930s, and also collaborated with the legendary Raymond Loewy when he was involved with Studebaker in the 1940s and 1950s. He received the assignment resulting in a complete and fully operational prototype ...
Some time later. When a wall at the rear of a rented building 'fell' under the violence of the demolition hammer, a few stones fell at the rear of that wall. No one present, not even the owner of the object to be demolished, and thus no one who could tell why that 'blind wall', erected by a tenant, actually stood there. When the dust had cleared up, the demolition workers saw to their great surprise that the stones that had fallen in had 'landed' on and through a plexiglass rear window of a strange, 'small' Ford Mustang.
The questions arose. And not only with those demolition companies. The answer came quickly. This Mustang was obscured or stolen and stored out of sight. The owner of the shed had rented the building in Inkster, Michigan, to a stranger. After paying one month's rent, he single-handedly built the wall around the special Mustang. The landlord has since been able to whistle at his money and after various attempts, not leading to the intended success, to contact his tenant, proceeded to evacuation and demolition. After this discovery, he hurried to the Ford Motor Company headquarters.
Dearborn Steel Tubing
In May, insurance company Aetna paid out 1965 ten mille in US dollars. The company had a year or two before that Dearborn Steel Tubing this special Mustang - with polyester bodywork! - built for Ford. Insurer Aetna had the item shipped to their headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut where the thing was out for a year before one of the executives could purchase this special Ford Mustang. He drove a messy 16.000 trouble-free mileage before putting a 'for sale' advertisement in the December 1968 issue of the leading American magazine Hemmings Motor News.
A certain Bill Snyder, manager of a printing company in the vicinity of Cleveland, became the new owner. He recognized this Mustang because of an extensive report in another leading American magazine Motor Trend from May 1965, but also from the time it Ford Custom Car Caravan circus that year the dealer in Cleveland. After then having studied the device extensively, having driven it, he wanted to order one. The seller made it clear - to his great disappointment - that this model would never be taken into production.
Just for information the Ford Custom Car Caravan consisted of an extensive collection of Ford products with which the aforementioned car manufacturer traveled through the States to introduce the public to the model series. You will understand that because of this opportunity, Snyder finally owned this special Mustang, jumped a hole in the air and immediately made a deal. Snyder rode such a small 6.000 kilometer in his home environment before storing the thing.
By coincidence a certain Bill Warner, president of the famous Amelia Island Concours d'Elégance in Florida in mid-2011 air of the car (and its owner) and announced that if Snyder would have the car restored to new condition, he could count on a place of honor at this competition. Snyder had that done, Warner kept his word, in March last year this Mustang could be admired.
Even more special
Regarding the history of this car, we have been in contact with the American Bob Fria, the Mustang historian. The Ford Mustang in question has the chassis number 5SO8F 100009 and that means that it is not only the ninth Mustang that rolled off the tire in the so-called 'pilot plant ' from Ford in Allen Park, Michigan, but also a Convertible. The 'F' indicates that an 260 CuIn V8 was originally installed. That makes this car even more special, because in November and December 1963 only fifteen Mustangs rolled off the tire in the 'pilot plant'. Those were the so-called notchbacks and convertibles. Of these, including the shortened copy of Snyder, only three exist worldwide. A number of those fifteen were used for all kinds of test purposes, as 'crash tests' and a number were handed over to racing teams. Data from the Ford Motor Company makes it clear that the chassis numbers 008, 009 and 010 were transferred to Andy Hotton, owner of Dearborn Steel Tubing. The numbers 008 and 010 returned to Ford and were demolished.
Data from Bill Snyder shows that the car rebuilt by Dearborn Steel Tubing was presented as Ford Mustang II in the Ford circus in the United States for more than half a year and then had to be returned to Ford in order to make it scrap. That went too far for Vince Gardner and Andy Hotton, and so Gardner, with the approval of Hotton, had the car obscured by one of the elderly employees of Dearborn Steel Tubing, sprayed the bright green specimen matte black, Gardner hired that shed in Inkster, Michigan, with his own on the wall and 'forgot' things afterwards.
It seems that Gardner was more than a 'bit' mentally disturbed and could not remember it. In the 1940s he was locked up in a madhouse for a while. After two previous - unsuccessful attempts - he committed suicide in 1976.
Dearborn Steel Tubing in any case subsequently reported the theft on behalf of Ford. However, it remains a question why the license plate was in the name of the construction company. Ford has never sued that company, but its creator and designer Gardner. He was still working for Ford at the time ... But ..., Mark Gustavson, another leading Ford historian working on a book about the Ford Custom Car Caravan, made it clear that the Ford Motor Company has never ordered the shortened Mustang, but rented it from designer Gardner and thus traveled through the States in the third edition of the circus ...
He wants to claim that Gardner himself gave the order to Dearborn Steel Tubing and that Ford could agree with that. It was customary for the American automobile manufacturer to use 'brainwashing' from other designers. For example, the DiDia 150, the so-called Bobby Darrin 'dream car ', Silhouette by Bill Cushenberry, the Mustang Pegasus and a number of creations by George Barris. Gustavson suspects that Ford became aware of this shortened Mustang when Gardner showed the car at the Motor Show in the Cobo Hall of Detroit. Gardner then also did work for Hotton as a freelancer and thus had access to the development department of Dearborn Steel Tubing. Fria knows that in 1963 Ford had the rolling chassis - with an 260 CuIn 260n V8 - delivered to Dearborn Steel Tubing and suspects that this might still be the basis for the Mustang II (where both historians are talking about Mustang III)?
The question remains, of course, why this car has a Ford Mustang chassis number while Ford returned a rolling Falcon chassis ... All in all a special car with a special background and history.