No estimates yet, but it will definitely be expensive.
The first Ford Mustang hardtop ever built rolled of the production line in Dearborn in 1965. It wore the serial number 00002, following a convertible before it, and now it will head to auction as part of the Mecum Indianapolis sale in May where it could fetch some serious cash.
Wearing its original Caspian Blue exterior, the Mustang coupe in question began assembly at Ford’s Allen Park, Michigan plant where another 180 or so pre-production examples were being built. It was eventually transferred to Dearborn, half finished, where the final assembly would be completed and the VIN designation would be assigned. This one wears the VIN number 5F07U100002, the first ever assigned to a production hardtop.
The car was slated for delivery to Brown Brothers Ford in Vancouver, Canada. But due to a shipping error, it somehow ended up at Whitehorse Motors in the Yukon Territory later that May, nearly a month after the Mustang’s April 17 debut. The dealership used it as a demo car for a few months before it was sold in the spring of 1965.
This Mustang is one of just a handful of surviving pre-production examples, and has had 13 owners since new. In 1997, it was purchased by Mustang historian and its current consigner, Bob Fria, who spent just over two years restoring the car, bringing it back up to original standards. It even comes complete with the date-coded 170 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine and the three-speed manual gearbox.
Mecum doesn’t give an estimate on the car, but given its rarity, expect it to see some big numbers when it crosses the auction block. The Mecum Indianapolis auction will take place from May 16 to 21, 2017.
Gallery: First Ford Mustang Coupe Auction
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.