One of the things I love about aimless wandering (both on foot and behind the steering wheel) is that you never know what you might see. In my case, I’m always on the lookout for cool cars. Maybe it’s a candy-apple red Alfa Romeo Spider, slumbering quietly on the street. Tucked in among the autumn leaves, most pedestrians pass it not even knowing what it is. You wonder who owns it. Perhaps it’s an old-school Ferrari on the freeway, breaking the speed limit, or an ancient Land Rover Defender that you frequently spot chugging around town. You might be unable to distinguish between the cracks giving away its age and the scrapes broadcasting its adventures, but nonetheless, it definitely has a few tales to tell.
Cars are great storytellers as well as the subjects of great stories. Car enthusiasts and gear heads love a good car sighting or find—in a barn, in a garage, on the street… They remind one of simpler times when feeling the wind through your hair was all that was required to live. You never know what is lurking in the garage of the most unassuming house…
It seems that yet another great tale of an unknown, history-laden car has just been revealed in Chicago, IL.
“I had just graduated from Chicago Teachers College and I told a salesman at Johnson Ford on Cicero Avenue that I wanted a convertible. He had none on the floor, but he invited me into the back room, where he had a baby blue convertible under a tarp. And there it was.”
This “baby blue convertible” was a Ford Mustang—the (future) first mustang ever to be sold.
Gail Wise, a retired schoolteacher, has been housing this beloved car in her garage since the day she bought it—in 1964.
Facts about Ms. Wise’s Purchase:
Date Purchased: April 15, 1964
Dealer: Johnson Ford, Cicero Avenue, Chicago
Color: Baby Blue
Purchase Price: $3,447.50
“I had never heard of the Mustang. It hadn’t been launched yet, but they let me drive it out of the showroom that night. Everyone stared at me. I felt like a movie star!”
Two days after Gail Wise purchased her Mustang, Lee Iacocca unveiled the American favorite at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964. In a funny way, she had beaten him to the punch.
I love stories like this.
The Ford Mustang is an essential part of the American automotive narrative—we never seem to get tired of it. It also never fails to turn heads.
On April 17, 2013, the Ford Mustang’s 49th birthday, the ‘stang reached the “one million milestone.” Ford celebrated by manufacturing a bright red 2014 convertible.
My dad had a Ford Mustang (blue) WAY back when—and it is a secret dream (now, not so secret) to find that Mustang and fix it up. If any of you are fans of “car picking” (aka finding historic, fabulous cars in strange places), house a secret dream to refurbish that “special, gas-burning someone” in your garage, or just love car tales, then I have a series of books by Tom Cotter to suggest. They are easy reads and offer great examples of hidden gems like Ms. Wise’s baby blue Mustang.
- The Cobra in the Barn: Great Stories of Automotive Archaeology
- The Hemi in the Barn: More Great Stories of Automotive Archaeology
- The Corvette in the Barn: More Great Stories of Automotive Archaeology
Also, please share your car tales at [email protected]! I would love to hear them.