Ford Traded the One-Millionth Mustang to Get the First One Back
The story of a Canadian Ford dealership selling the first Mustang ever built is a crazy story. It’s especially crazy because it wasn’t supposed to get sold at all. At any rate, it did. The lucky buyer of the serial number one Mustang was airline pilot Captain Stanley Tucker. Fortunately for him, Ford wanted their first Mustang back. So, he got the deal of a lifetime after two years of convincing.
Tucker did not want to sell the Mustang back to Ford
According to The Henry Ford Museum, Capt. Tucker was having too much fun in his new convertible to consider doing something silly like selling it back to Ford. After all, he had convinced the dealership to sell it a few days before it was supposed to be on sale. Ultimately, though, Ford managed to cook up a trade that Capt. Tucker couldn’t refuse.
The Ford Mustang was such a massive success upon its release that its production numbers skyrocketed. By 1966, Ford was already on pace to produce the one-millionth Mustang. Execs at the time saw this as their opportunity to get Mustang serial number one back. After two years of trying to convince Capt. Tucker to sell the Mustang back, they finally got him to agree to a deal. It was a simple trade. Capt. Tucker gives them the first Mustang back and, in exchange, receives the one-millionth.
On March 2nd, 1966, Capt. Tucker took to Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan production facility. He met with Ford vice president and key Mustang developer Lee Iacocca. After posing for pictures with his new fully-loaded 1966 Ford Mustang convertible, he drove off with his new car, leaving Ford in possession of their first Mustang once again. Though Capt. Tucker did get the unique experience of owning two milestone Mustangs; he wasn’t entirely satisfied with his choice. Seventeen years after the trade deal, he told Mustang Monthly magazine that he did indeed regret letting go of serial number one.
The first Mustang had some quirks, as it was never meant to be in a customer’s possession
The Ford dealer in Newfoundland, Canada, that sold Capt. Tucker the Mustang got it because they were the furthest away from Ford’s production facility at the time. Intending on having a Mustang on display at every Ford dealership in North America, Ford sent out pre-production models. So, given the dealer’s distance, Ford sent them the very first Mustang, serial number 5F08F100001.
Ford built these pre-production Mustang models between February 10th and March 5th, 1964. They are practice models of sorts that allowed Ford employees to get a feel for the production process before starting work on actual customer cars.
As a result, serial number one has a few noticeable differences between it and the production models. The slightly crooked-fitting hood is the most obvious sign that it’s not a production model. Additionally, smaller elements like the door lock bases having no grommets, the gray painted engine block, and the gray front grille all point to a pre-production Mustang. After March 9th, 1964, engine blocks started receiving black paint instead
Capt. Tucker is an iconic part of Ford history
You’d be hard-pressed to find a person who has owned two more iconic pieces of Mustang history than Captain Stanley Tucker.
According to MotorTrend, Capt. Tucker sold the one-millionth Mustang after thousands of miles of hard use. Evidently, he sold the car to his mechanic in the 1970s and never saw the car again. Additionally, no paper trail means there’s no way to know the one-millionth Mustang’s VIN.
Unfortunately, there’s a good chance it wound up destroyed after Capt Tucker sold it. A fitting end, considering the pre-production Mustang would likely have met the same fate had Capt. Tucker not purchased it in 1964. Most pre-production vehicles do. However, the unintended sale secured the ability for the first Mustang ever to be preserved. To this day, Mustang fans can go see it in person at The Henry Ford Museum.