First Ford Mustang owner still has the keys 49 years after trading a Chevy
The launch of an iconic sports car in today's world often comes with a bidding war to be first in line; witness NASCAR team owner and car dealer Rick Hendrick paying $1 million last year for the rights to own the first 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray. But when the Ford Mustang was launched in 1964, Ford went to great lengths to keep the car under wraps as part of its launch. It was just a 22-year-old teacher's good luck that let her become the first Ford Mustang owner — a car that's still in her garage nearly five decades later.
The way Gail Wise tells it, she was just looking for a car to get her to her first job out of college, and was growing tired of her parents' '57 Ford Fairlane, when she went to Johnson Ford in Chicago. After a tour of the showroom turned up nothing of interest, the salesman said “I’ve got something in the back that's really new" — a light blue Mustang convertible, fully loaded with a 260 V-8 and a power top.
After some family wheeling-dealing that included the trade-in of a '58 Chevy for $400, Wise drove the Mustang home on April 15, 1964 — two days before Ford president Lee Iacocca would officially unveil the car to a crowd at the World's Fair in New York.
"I just wanted a new car, and was tickled pink to have it," Wise told Yahoo Autos. "I didn't know everyone was waiting for that car."
She soon found out just how popular the Mustang was, especially with a young woman behind the wheel; she was often flagged down by curious onlookers: "Everyone was staring at me and waving at me."
Life otherwise went on; Gail married Tom Wise in 1966, the couple raised four children, but held onto the Mustang, which later became Tom's daily driver. Chicago winters burned some rust through the fenders; mechanical problems added up and eventually the Wises parked the Mustang, with Tom Wise expecting to tackle the repairs at some point, just as soon as he found the time.