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A historic 1964 Ford Mustang with an unusual past heads to auction

Why it matters to you

This 1964 hardtop sheds valuable insight into the earliest days of the Ford Mustang, one of the most collectible cars in the world.

One of the first Ford Mustangs ever built is scheduled to cross the auction block in Indianapolis in April. Manufactured in early 1964, this historically significant Mustang comes with an unusual past.

Ford decided the first few Mustangs to roll off the Dearborn, Michigan, assembly line would be shipped to dealers in Canada, according to auction house Mecum. Getting cars there took a long time in the 1960s and the Blue Oval wanted to make sure every dealer had at least one example to show customers when the Mustang broke cover on April 17. A V8-powered convertible with VIN number 00001 and a hardtop assigned VIN number 00002 were dispatched north.

A mysterious shipping error unexpectedly sent the Mustang to Whitehorse, a small town buried in Canada’s Yukon Territory, instead of Vancouver. It didn’t reach its destination until May, about a month after the Mustang was released, and it was ill-equipped for northern Canada’s harsh climate and mountainous terrain. After receiving an engine block heater to brave the region’s frigid temperatures, VIN number 00002 served as the dealer’s demonstrator model until it finally found a new home in the spring of 1965. It consequently went through no less than 13 owners in Canada and in the United States until Bob Fria, the current owner, purchased it in southern California in 1997.

Time had not been kind to the coupe. Fortunately, Fria recognized its rarity and spent two years painstakingly restoring it back to its original condition. Hard work and dedication paid off; today, the Mustang is in like-new condition, the chrome trim is mirror-like, and its Caspian Blue paint job shines like it did on the day it rolled off the assembly line. It was even displayed at Ford’s headquarters when the company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003.

The definition of performance was completely different in the middle of the 1960s. While the modern Mustang packs 526 horsepower from a 5.2-liter V8 in its most notable version, the low-spec 1965 example headed to auction soon settles for a 2.8-liter straight-six engine tuned to generate just 105 horsepower and 158 pound-feet of torque. And that 10-speed automatic coming in 2018? Forget about it, this ’65 came equipped with a three-speed manual transmission.

Mecum hasn’t provided an auction estimate, but enthusiast publication Hemmings speculates it will sell for anywhere between $450,000 and $650,000 when the hammer drops.