Historic Mustang

Purchased before official debut

John Gunnell - February 15, 2014 12:00 PM

ImageJohn Gunnell
ImageJohn Gunnell

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In 1964, Gail Brown was a 22-year-old graduate of Chicago Teacher’s College, living with her parents. She drove to work in her mother’s ’57 Ford Fairlane 500. She was getting ready to buy her first car. It had to be “cool” and it had to be a convertible.
Gail visited the showroom of Johnson Ford on Cicero Ave. in Chicago. None of the cars caught her eye, but a salesman decided to give her an advance peek at a Skylight Blue Mustang. Ford’s all-new Pony Car was slated to soon be introduced at the New York World’s Fair.
The fully-loaded Pony Car had the 260-cid V-8 and Rally Pac instrumentation. It had been under wraps in the back of the dealership awaiting the official release date, April 17. It was only April 15 when Gail saw the car, but a sale is a sale and the dealership sold the convertible. Neither Gail nor the dealer realized they were making automotive history. Gail became the first retail buyer of a Ford Mustang.
In 1966, Gail married her longtime sweetheart Tom Wise and the couple settled in a Chicago suburb, where they raised a family. Gail’s Mustang convertible was a part of the young family. The car would become Tom’s daily driver for several years. Eventually, the demands of work and family responsibilities regulated the car to the garage, where it sat for 27 years.
Tom had plans to restore it and started the project in 2007. Three years later, the car was back on the road. Since then, they have entered the fully-documented car in numerous shows and taken it to cruises in nearby towns where they amaze people with their story of being the very first owners of a Mustang.
With the Mustang celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 (remember the first ones were built and sold in ’64), the light blue ragtop with the dark blue interior has been in the limelight recently. It fact, it was one of the big attractions in the Ford booth at the recent Chicago Auto Show.