With the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang closing in fast, does the name Stanley Tucker mean anything to you? No? Well, for Mustang fans it's the name of the Canadian airline captain who purchased the first pre-production Mustang convertible. Yep, that's right -- numero uno. And just how did this most valuable of cars escape the corral and get sold in Canada?
The story goes that by the time the Ford Mustang officially went on sale on April 17, 1964, it had been rolling off the assembly lines for about five weeks. Thousands of Mustangs had been shipped to dealers throughout North America so they would be available in showrooms on opening day. However, not all of the cars on display were actually meant to be sold to customers.
Among those was a Wimbledon White convertible with serial number 5F08F100001 that rolled off the line on March 4th, 1964 and was shipped to the George Parsons Ford dealership St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada. That car, along with about 180 other early examples, was not meant to be sold to customers. These preproduction models were supposed to be used for internal testing and promotional purposes only.
The next day, however, Eastern Airlines pilot Capt. Stanley Tucker saw the sleek new convertible and knew he just had to have it. Tucker convinced Parsons to sell it to him. As more than 22,000 orders and sales had poured in opening weekend, no one back at Ford world headquarters in Dearborn at first realised the significance of that particular sale.
Once it became known a couple of weeks later that Mustang number 1 had been inadvertently sold, Ford officials got on the phone to Tucker. Their mission was simple: we want it back! But Tucker was having so much fun with his new car that he initially declined to sell it back to the company. For a long time he had the only Mustang in St John, and the car attracted enormous attention.
Eventually, Ford found a way to entice Tucker out of Mustang number 1. On March 2, 1966, less than two years after Mustang production began, Tucker drove the first Mustang back to Detroit and handed over the keys. In return he was given a brand-new example which just happened to be the 1-millionth Mustang produced - another white convertible.
Ford Motor Company donated Mustang number 1 to the nearby Henry Ford Museum where it went into storage as is. Why? Get this! It was the Museum's policy was to not display anything less than 20 years old? In 1983 it was restored and you can see it at the Henry Ford today.
David Burrell is the editor of www.retroautos.com.au