Monday, May 27, 2024
NewsFirst Person to Buy a Ford Mustang in U.S. Still Owns and...

First Person to Buy a Ford Mustang in U.S. Still Owns and Drives it

60 years, one owner

  • Gail Wise has owned her Stang for 60 years

  • Was sold two days before it should have been


Imagine being the very first person in the U.S. to ever buy a brand-new Ford Mustang. Bet you would love to still have that classic pony car, right? Well, Chicagoland resident Gail Wise doesn’t have to dream. She still owns her skylight-blue 1964 Mustang convertible.

Wise, says the Chicago Sun Times, went to Johnson Ford on Cicero Avenue on April 15, 1964. That’s two days before the brand new Ford Mustang was revealed to the public at that year’s World’s Fair.

“My parents always drove a convertible,” she said. “I just knew I wanted a convertible.” But the dealer didn’t have any. Not officially, at least. The sales staff had one in the back that was under a tarp. It wasn’t supposed to be on sale until the 17th.

Wise, a teacher, jumped at the sports car. She paid $3,447.50 against her $5,000 salary, borrowing the cash from her father.

“When I drove out of the showroom, nobody had seen this car yet,” she recalled. “Everybody was waving at me, asking me to slow down, so they could see this car. I felt like a movie star. I was very happy. I drove it to school the next day. All those boys, the 7th and 8th graders, were hovering over it.”

The next 15 years saw a husband and four kids. They moved to South Carolina and she gave up teaching. One day in the late 1970s, her husband Tom told the Sun-Times the car’s carb linkage failed. It spent the next 27 years in the garage.

Gail wanted it scrapped, but Tom wanted to save it to restore when he retired. That finally happened in 2005. “It was pretty badly rusted out,” said Tom. “I’m a pretty good mechanic, but I’m not a body and fender guy. I took the car all apart, took the engine out, the transmission out. The only thing that remained were the four wheels and the steering wheel.”

It took three years to finish, and the couple now drive it and take it to shows. Ford has brought the pair and their car to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and to Dearborn to celebrate various Mustang milestones.

Of course, it’s not as cool as the first one ever sold in the world. That one went to a pilot in St. John’s a few hours earlier. But that one has changed hands over the years, making this one even more special. Long may you and your pony car run, Gail.

 

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