A 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang III "Shorty" factory prototype is set to go under the hammer March next year.

A 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang III "Shorty" factory prototype is set to go under the hammer March next year.

Designed by Vince E. Gardner and based on a pre-production 1965 Mustang, the "Shorty" factory prototype is 406mm (16 inches) shorter than the original model and only one car was ever made. It has a bespoke rear end with different outer door skins while the entire body is made from fiberglass.

Power comes from a Mustang 260 V8 engine bored out to 302 cubic inches (5.0 liters) and packing three carburetors. It works with a reworked automatic gearbox that has been strengthened specifically for this one-off car. It also benefits from an independent front suspension, hypoid rear axle while the braking system consist of a front disc and rear drum setup.

The vehicle has an interesting story as initially it went on a tour and was displayed at the Henry Ford Museum. Since there weren't any plans for production, the Blue Oval company decided to crush the car but Gardner didn't want his creation to be destroyed so he stole the prototype and hid it in a rented warehouse. Ford shortly reported the car as being stolen.

This is where the story really gets interesting as Gardner only paid rent during the first month and in 1965 the warehouse owner found it after tearing down a wall behind which the car was hidden. He called the police and afterwards the car was purchased by an employee of an insurance company who eventually sold it to its current owner who fully restored it in the early 2000s.

Expected to get anywhere between  $400,000 - $600,000, the Shorty Mustang will be auctioned on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at Fort Lauderdale in Florida by Auctions America.

Gallery: Ford Mustang III Shorty factory prototype to be auctioned

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