Jim Smart has been following the discussion of that $5.5 million car and asked me to post the following information:
When the Mustang Production Guide was published in 1993-94, Ford's official story was 5F08F100001 rolled off the Dearborn line Monday, March 9, 1964. We took Ford's official story and published it in our book. We have since confirmed (via Bob Fria's extensive Mustang research) that the March 9, 1964 story is erroneous. Not all information in the Mustang Production Guide, Volume 1, is current.
Here's what is current.
Even though Ford insists 5F08F100001 rolled off Monday, March 9, 1964 - Bob Fria has confirmed this is not true. Fria has be able to confirm via abundant research 100001 through approximately 100180 were pre-production units. He has confirmed this through contact with retired Ford management (including Lee Iacocca), engineering, and manufacturing types who were there at the time. He has also confirmed by contacting as many people as he could who have 100001 through approximately 100180. He has collected detailed data - sheet metal stamping dates, date codes, casting date codes, broadcast sheets, you name it, from known units. Bob's information is very reliable. He has been able to clear up a lot of the mystery surrounding Mustang's first production launch. Pre-production units (100001 through approximately 100180) have component date codes that place their manufacture in January and February of 1964 - not March 9, 1964. Not all of these units have been accounted for - so this is all based on available data. With any luck, we will be able to fill in the gaps and confirm the final pre-production vehicle VIN in time.
The closest VIN we have to 100180 is 5F08F100173, Date Code 05C, DSO 91 - exported to England in 1964. There's one Mustang hardtop, 5F07D100192, which was delivered to Petersen Publishing Company as a magazine test car. We don't have a date code or DSO code on this car - which means we cannot confirm it as a pre-production or mass-production unit. The information came from Ford's Motorsport program paperwork.
Anything with an "09C" date code is first day/mass production status. We have not confirmed the first "09C" car to date. No one has. So no one can lay claim to having the first mass production hardtop or convertible because not every "09C" unit has been accounted for.
5F08F100001 was not manufactured on Monday, March 9, 1964 - nor was 5F07U100002 - nor was 5F08F100005 or 100006. Units 100003 through 100014 were New York World's Fair units - all convertibles. Our book states they were all Wimbledon White. We were again mistaken because we didn't see the follow-up Ford memo that would have clarified these 12 World's Fair units were different colors. Original paperwork states they were all Wimbledon White. Gary Schweitzer confirmed color variation when he unearthed some very important paperwork last year in Dearborn. World's Fair mystery completely solved thanks to Gary. And yes, there are information holes when it comes to other Mustang units at the Fair. Not all have been accounted for.
The Mustang production story is changing all the time because new information surfaces all the time. These early units were produced prior to March of 1964. And here's the real deal - any 1964 1/2 Dearborn Mustang unit with a build date code of "05C" is a pre-production unit. We know this to be true based on Bob Fria's research. Thank goodness for Capt' Bob's solid determination. He has solved a large portion of the big mystery.
Think of the 1964 1/2 "05C" date code like you would early 1967-69 Mustang units with "04G" date codes (July 4th). The date code of "04G" indicates a 1967, 1968, 1969 pre-production unit. Ford did not build these units on July 4, 1966, 1967, or 1968. The "04G" date code is a "flag" date code used internally for quick identification purposes. For 1967-69 - "04G" meant pre-production unit. Most of them were show car and press units with Ford DSO and Export DSO codes.
For 1964 1/2 - "05C" means pre-production unit - along with a VIN below APPROXIMATELY 100180.
It has taken years of research to get all of this down - and there's still a lot to learn. In 1994, we thought we had it figured out, especially with Ford Public Affairs telling us "Monday, March 9, 1964..." But Ford Public Affairs didn't know any more about Mustang production start-up than we did. That's Ford's official story and it is sticking to it. But not even Ford can escape physical facts. Sheet metal stamping dates and parts date codes on all known "05C" units contradict Ford's "Monday, March 9, 1964" story. Monday, March 9, 1964 was Mustang's official Job 1 launch - that part is true. At this time, no one knows what Job 1's VIN was. We have yet to find a photo of Dearborn Mustang Job 1 and probably never will. It doesn't exist in any of the archives we have all checked. So we don't even know what type of Mustang Job 1 was. Probably a convertible for eye wash, but no official proof. What's more - we have no means presently of confirming Job 1's VIN, which would end all discussion.
Until someone comes up with a Job 1/March 9th photo at Dearborn (including VIN) - and fills in production gaps between 100001 and approximately 100180 - the first mass production car cannot be confirmed. And lets throw in another important twist. The six-digit consecutive unit number does not always match physical order on the line. In fact, it rarely matches physical order on the line unless you have a multi-unit order under the same six-digit DSO code. Please remember the consecutive unit number is an ORDER NUMBER. Ford dealer places the order. District sales office sends the order along to the line-up office at Dearborn assembly and the unit is scheduled for assembly. This is the way it was in 1964. And this is the way it was at Dearborn at the end in 2004. If all of the necessary parts are there to build the unit, the unit is scheduled for assembly. If parts aren't there, the unit is put on production hold until parts are there. In 2004, I was amazed to see Dearborn did it the same way it did in 1964 - with IBM punch cards and a guy stapling the body buck tag (stamped from data on the IBM punch card) to the body. In 1964, a broadcast sheet was the only means of line communication, which is where the body buck tag came from later on. The body buck tag was an indestructible means of communication in addition to the broadcast sheet. And there were a lot of broadcast sheets per unit attached to all major subassemblies like seats, engine/transmission, rear axle, and the body. Most went in the trash can. I've seen trash cans loaded with broadcast sheets.
I've learned from many visits to Dearborn assembly there's not always any rhyme or reason to the way cars are mass produced. It often varies from shift to shift, supervisor to supervisor. You have to think of an assembly plant as a job shop. Plant gets the orders and builds cars. Plants run out of parts and cars don't get built - or plants run out of parts and substitute parts are used instead. On the last day of Mustang production at Dearborn in May of 2004, they ran out of fuel tanks for the last 11 units. They shut the line down and sent everyone home at 1 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Imagine what that cost Ford - and the supplier. Ford's supplier flew in 11 fuel tanks and the cars were built Monday, May 10, 2004. I've seen Dearborn use substitute parts to get units built because to shut the line down is a mortal sin in the car business. Shutting the line down gets expensive because you still have to pay people to stand there. Starting the line up - and shutting it down - is an involved process because an assembly line involves so many people - and so many processes.
One more thing - pre-production units were sold to the public, including 100001. The same is true for "04G" 1967-69 pre-production units. These cars just had special marketing purposes. 5F08F100001 was on a Canadian Ford dealer promotional tour when Capt. Stanley Tucker managed to talk a St. Johns New Foundland Ford dealer salesman into selling him the car. By the time that dealer figured out the car was gone, it belonged to Tucker - who put 10,000 miles on it over the next two years. Ford tried to get it back from him. He wasn't going to do it. Ford had to build him a '66 convertible to his liking before he would give it 100001 back. Tucker didn't choose the 289 High Performance V-8 because it had only a 90-day warranty. He chose the 289-4V engine instead. Tucker sold his '66 convertible to his mechanic in the early 1970s and never saw it again. Hard to know if it survives. When I spoke with Tucker back in 1993, he still had the Philco portable television that came with his '66 convertible.
I hope what I've just said clears up some of the confusion.
"I love it when a plan comes together!" -- Hannibal Smith
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