1965 Ford Mustang // Serial No. 00002 // Mecum Indy 2017
In the rarified air of top collector cars, no description raises eyebrows quicker than “first.” For Mustang, a car line that has been produced for 53 consecutive model years with more than 9 million sold, there is only one “first” hardtop. Amazingly, through fate, or perhaps sheer luck, 5F07U100002 survives today.
On Monday, February 10, 1964—the day after watching the Beatles’ debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show"—Ford workers returned to the Dearborn Assembly Plant to find a new vehicle interspersed among the 1964 Fairlanes. It was the 1965 Mustang, a sporty compact championed by Ford General Manager Lee Iacocca. As part of the pre-production preparation, the plant needed to train workers as well as build Mustangs for important PR duties, including a dozen convertibles for the Magic Skyway at the soon-to-open New York World’s Fair. However, the first two orders, convertible 5F08F100001 and hardtop 5F07U100002, were destined for the long trip to east- and west-coast Canadian Ford dealers so they would have a new Mustang in their showrooms for introduction day, April 17.
For two decades, Bob Fria has been unraveling the tale of 5F07U100002, a Caspian Blue 1965 Mustang hardtop. The early VIN piqued Fria’s interest. During the restoration disassembly, Fria discovered production oddities, including prototype sheetmetal stampings and welds unlike those found on later Mustangs. As Fria dug into the car’s history by interviewing former Ford employees and becoming friends with Iacocca along the way, he became the foremost authority on early Mustang development, especially the hectic early months of 1964 as Ford prepared its new car for production. Fria eventually put his research into a book, “Mustang Genesis.”
Fria’s digging revealed that between 150 and 180 pre-production Mustangs were built between February 10 and March 5, 1964, all with a pre-assigned 05C (March 5) build date stamped in their data plates. Some came from the Allen Park Pilot Plant where they had been used to develop the assembly-line build processes. These partially completed pilot Mustangs were trucked to the Dearborn Assembly Plant for the pre-production assembly-line startup on February 10.
Among these Pilot Plant chassis was the Mustang that would be assigned VIN 5F07U100002, the first VIN assigned to a hardtop. However, the consecutive unit number didn’t necessarily determine the order off the assembly line. Then, like today, Ford didn’t necessarily build cars consecutively by VIN. Despite Fria’s efforts, he has been unable to determine which Mustang was the first off the line.
Fria did learn that 100002 was scheduled for early assembly to allow time for shipping by rail to Brown Brothers Ford in Vancouver on Canada’s western coast. However, the Caspian Blue hardtop was somehow misrouted, eventually ending up at Whitehorse Motors in the Yukon Territory in May and totally missing the Mustang’s April 17 introduction. There was never a more unlikely car for the cold, rugged Yukon than a Mustang with a 6-cylinder engine, 3-speed stick and 13-inch tires. Whitehorse Motors installed a block heater, then used the car as a demonstrator until it was finally sold in the spring of 1965.
Only a handful of the pre-production 1965 Mustangs survive today, including the first two serialized 1965 cars. The convertible, 100001, is owned by Ford Motor Company and displayed at The Henry Ford Museum. Fria rescued 100002 in 1997 after 13 previous owners. A two-year restoration returned the hardtop to its 1964 condition, complete with a date-coded 170 CI 6-cylinder engine. The historic first-serialized Mustang hardtop was displayed at Ford World Headquarters during Ford’s 100th anniversary and has been photographed with Lee Iacocca.
There is only one “first.” This Mustang goes down in pony-car history as the first hardtop to receive a serial number.
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