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Mystery Mustang

Intrigue Behind An Unusual Car

Joe Greeves - December 31, 2013 10:00 AM

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He stole the car from Ford, then drove it down the road, parked it in the second story of a warehouse in Inkster, Michigan, and built a wall around it.

Creating a concept car is a privilege granted to very few. It demands a rare combination of talent and passion, along with being in the right place at the right time.

Prior to the legendary success of the soon-to-be introduced Mustang, Vince Gardner was given the task of creating a shorter version of the car. No one can be sure of Ford’s plans, but Gardner pressed ahead with the design, choosing a pre-production Mustang chassis that had been shortened 16 inches. Gardner’s design retained the stock Mustang front end, but remade the car in fiberglass from the cowl rearward. Complex rear quarter windows were mounted in recessed coves and the steeply angled, Mach 1-style back window flowed smoothly from the center of the roof to the truncated rear, with just a hint of a spoiler.
An external quick fill gas tank gave the car a competition flavor while the stock Mustang taillights and bumper reinforced all the original Mustang design signatures. There is no trunk on the prototype and there is no storage in the area behind the seats, but these features would have certainly been addressed on production versions. The car rolls on 15-inch Cragar wheels and was painted a beautiful Candy Apple Red lacquer.
Ford revealed it had no plans to produce the car. It would suffer the same fate as most concept cars of the era and had a date with the crusher. To prevent this, Gardner stole the car from Ford, then drove it down the road, parked it in the second story of a warehouse in Inkster, Michigan, and built a wall around it. Over a period of about six months, the police auto theft bureau and the insurance company decided to write the car off. The insurance company paid the claim and the case was closed.
Gardener only paid one month’s rent on the storage facility and it was eventually discovered behind the wall. The insurance company now owned the car and stored it outside, a problem for the original lacquer paint job that was not exactly weatherproof. Although the details aren’t clear, the insurance company probably established a salvage title since the car was later purchased by one of their executives. When he decided to sell it a few years later, he advertised it. Its current owner, Bill Snyder, bought it and has owned it since.
 (The complete story can be found in the January-February 2014 issue of Auto Enthusiast, which may be obtained by calling (800) 448-3611)

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