In early April 1964, two weeks before the official introduction of the all-new Ford Mustang on April 17, Captain Stanley Tucker, a pilot for the Canadian Eastern Provincial Airlines, was out for a drive when he spotted the new Mustang convertible, finished in Wimbledon White, at the George Parsons Ford dealership in his hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.
Captain Tucker bought the car on the spot and drove it home the following day, not knowing that he had purchased the very first production Mustang with the factory vehicle identification number (VIN) 5F08F100001. Apparently, neither did the Ford Motor Company. Shortly after the purchase, the dealership called Tucker to tell him they had sold the car by mistake and that Ford wanted the car back. Mustang No. 1 had toured Canada as a promotional vehicle before it ended up at the dealership and it wasn’t supposed to be offered for sale.
Number One for One Million and One
But Tucker was so enamored with his Mustang convertible that he refused to give it up and drove it for two years, putting 10,000 miles on the odometer. Ford got serious about retrieving their first production Mustang and offered Tucker a brand-new 1966 Mustang convertible, optioned to Tucker’s specifications, in trade for 5F08F100001. Tucker accepted the deal but later said in an interview in 1983, “There was a new car in the deal. But it was actually foolish on my behalf when I think about it today.”
Tucker ordered a Silver Frost convertible with a black top, black Decor Group interior, Styled Steel wheels, air conditioning, AM cassette, and a television. Ford publicized the trade as “Number One for One Million and One”, with Tucker receiving Mustang No. 1,000,001 from Ford officials led by Lee Iacocca during the Millionth Mustang assembly line ceremony at the Dearborn Assembly Plant on March 2, 1966.
Milestone Car for Ford
Thus, Mustang No. 1 once again became the property of the Ford Motor Company. In March 18, 1966, the executive director of the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Donald Shelly, wrote a letter to then vice president of Ford Division, Donald Frey, saying “We would like to express our deep interest in Mustang No. 1 for the Henry Ford Museum. While it is extremely difficult to forecast what may or may not be historically significant, we believe that this Mustang will indeed prove to be a milestone car in the automobile industry.”
Mustang No. 1 was delivered to the Henry Ford Museum in the fall of 1966 and went into storage for 18 years before meeting the museum’s 20-year-old qualification for display. It was briefly displayed during the Mustang’s 10th and 20th anniversary celebrations, in 1974 and 1984 respectively. It went on permanent display in the “Automobiles in American Life” exhibit in 1987.
A Place in History
The car was restored in April 2003 by George Gunlock, a Ford employee and Malcolm Collum, an employee of The Henry Ford, which is now the new name of the museum. Because it was complete and well-preserved, Mustang No. 1, with just 10,633 miles on its odometer, took just a few weeks to restore. It was briefly driven by several automotive journalists during the Ford Motor Company’s Centennial celebrations in June 2003.
Mustang No. 1 is currently on display at The Henry Ford, with a caption that states: “This is the first Mustang produced. It was sold to Stanley Tucker of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada on April 14, 1964 and is actually a 1965 model. The Mustang was the automobile that touched off the entire ‘pony car’ craze of the 1960s, and was the first automobile ever to win the Tiffany Award for Excellence in American Design.”
Captain Tucker eventually sold his silver “One Millionth and One” Mustang convertible to a St. John’s mechanic. Meanwhile, another pilot found a 1964 1/2 Mustang hardtop in Caspian Blue bearing factory VIN number 5F07U100002, which has been acknowledged by Ford as the first production Mustang hardtop. But that’s another story…