It’s not too often that a vintage prototype with such a compelling back story as the 1964.5 Mustang Shorty prototype crosses the auction block. And prospective bidders will have a chance to own it at the 2014 Auctions of America event in Ft. Lauderdale Florida scheduled for March 27-29, 2015.
The back story of the Shorty is as compelling as the plot of some movies, and it all begins at Ford’s HQ in 1965 in Dearborn, Michigan. At the time, it was formally known as the Mustang III Concept and was built by Dearborn Steel Tubing (DST) Industries as approved by Ford’s marketing department. This is no surprise, since DST at the time was Ford’s go-to-firm for many of its 60’s show cars. In Shorty’s case, the goal was to explore what a two-seat Mustang would look like.
Originally, Ford envisioned the Mustang solely as a two-seater, but practicality and a larger market led to the eventual 2+2 layout that made its formal debut in 1965. The Shorty Mustang originally started life as the tenth Mustang prototype chassis, but DST chopped 16 inches off the wheelbase, thereby eliminating the rear seat, while redoing the rear bodywork using fiberglass to accommodate the shortened wheelbase. The concept was powered by an experimental version of Ford’s familiar 302 (5.0L) V8 that channelled power to the rear wheels through an automatic transmission.
Penned by Vincent E. Gardner, the modified two-seater would later go on tour, later going on display for a brief period at the Henry Ford Museum to the delight of visitors. However, Ford never formally followed through on a production version of the Shorty, and the model was destined to be crushed like other show cars once their usefulness ceased. Unlike other concepts, though, Gardner was passionate about his creation and, upon hearing the news of Shorty’s impending destruction, he took matters into his own hands by stealing the car, and hiding it behind a wall in a rented warehouse. There it stayed until the warehouse was torn down when Gardner failed to keep up on his rent payments. The new owner discovered the car, and called the police to recover it.
This is when a key twist in the storyline takes place. During Shorty’s brief disappearance, Ford reported the car stolen to its insurance provider, Aetna, which promptly paid the claim assuming that the car was either long gone or in pieces. When Shorty was found fully intact in its warehouse home, it was decided that Ford would keep the money it earned, while Aetna would keep the car. As a result, an Aetna employee bought the car before eventually selling it to its current owner, who extensively restored it in the early 2000s before formally showing it off at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
Now, the owner is offering the car for sale. So when the hammer does eventually fall on the Shorty in March, experts are expecting it to garner a gavel price of between $400,000 to $600,000. The high figures aren’t just a result of Shorty’s unique place in Mustang history, but also the fact that 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Mustang’s debut, which is expected to help boost the value of many classic Mustangs, Shorty included.
You can check out the Shorty at the Auction of Americas website here, and stay tuned to find out how much Shorty sells for come March.