The Story Of Edsel Ford’s First Mustang

The end-of-year holidays are upon us, and one would be hard-pressed not to hear Jingle Bells in a store, or not to see other seasonal decorations all over the place. And for those who watch television ads and don’t skip the commercials, it would also be difficult to miss an ad containing a new car in a beautiful driveway wearing a big red bow. So much so, in fact, that the theme seems to have become a staple of automotive advertising during the holiday season. And while the idea is a fairytale for some, others have experienced it in real life. One of these was a 16-year-old boy during the Christmas of 1964.

The boy in question was none other than Edsel Ford — great-grandson of Henry Ford and the son of Henry Ford II. That day, he became the owner of a very special Ford Mustang.

December of 1964 marked the eighth month that the Ford Mustang had been on sale. Even though it was very early on in the model’s availability, it was clear that Ford had a hit on its hands, with first year Mustang sales exceeding 418,000 units. Part of the reason for the Stang’s wild success was the great array of personalization choices Ford offered on the pony car, allowing customers to customize it to their hearts’ content, directly from the factory. In fact, the Mustang was widely promoted as “The Car designed to be designed by you”, and offered three bodystyles, four engine choices, 17 colors, and a myriad of other options. In fact, the Mustang was available in some special-order custom colors during its history, including Playboy Pink in 1968 and Mystichrome in 2004.

Edsel’s pony was a fastback model painted in pearlescent white, complemented with slim blue racing stripes adorning the top of the body and along the rocker panels. A functional scoop sat proudly atop the hood, chrome trim adorned the three gills in the headlamp buckets, and the rearview mirrors were mounted on the fender, similar to Mustangs exported to Europe at that time. Inside, the pony sported blue leather interior with aluminum trim.

But the one subtle detail that differentiated Edsel’s Mustang from others was the rear fuel filler cap. Usually adorned with the galloping pony logo, the model made for Edsel had the initials “EBF II,” for Edsel B. Ford II. Then-Ford Motor Company CEO and president Henry Ford II had had this Mustang prepared as a special gift for his son’s 16th birthday, which fell on December 27, 1964.

“I came downstairs that Christmas morning with my sisters, and my father indicated I should take a look outside,” said Edsel recalls. “This amazing Mustang was sitting in the driveway, and I immediately grabbed my coat and shoes and went outside to check it out.”

That day, the young Ford limited his time inside the car to a few laps around the driveway in front of the house.

“The rumble of the high-performance 289-cubic-inch V8 was always intoxicating,” said Ford. “I only drove it for a few minutes that first day because there was snow on the ground, but as soon as the roads were cleared, I drove it almost every day.”

The pony became Edsel’s daily driver as he finished high school and went off to college. Sadly, the car was destroyed four years later when a friend borrowed it and got into an accident. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

In the 49 years since getting his first car and first Mustang, Edsel — who is currently a member of the board of directors of the Ford Motor Company — has owned a few other Mustangs, as well as other Ford models with more room for his wife and four sons. After graduating from college, he joined the Ford marketing department, where he worked on campaigns for Mustang and many other Ford vehicles.

“That Mustang was my first car and one of my favorites,” he said. “Seeing the photos that were discovered in the Ford archives brought back many fond memories.”

The Motrolix Take

What a great memory and story! Who wouldn’t wish to walk outside one fine December day (or any day, for that matter) and discover a gift on wheels?

Have you had the pleasure of receiving a car as a gift for a holiday, or another occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary? Share your story in the comments below!

Motrolix Founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.


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