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2023 March
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Car and Driver: Million-Dollar Mustang? This 1964.5 Indy 500 Pace Car Is Banking on It


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On behalf of the nation’s Mustang collectors, we must ask: Would you pay $1.1 million for one?


That’s the asking price a North Carolina dealer wants for a purportedly original 1964.5 Mustang convertible pace car driven at the 1964 Indy 500 that same year. It’s damn beautiful, alright: white over white with a white top, blue center striping, Firestone whitewalls, Motorola two-way radio, and twin checkered flags fluttering from chrome stanchions mounted under the rear bumper. Trouble is, the listing has languished on eBay Motors for more than a year. At the same price. We all know what happens to even the nicest homes when this kind of time passes.


We checked in with Wayne Carini, a classic-car restorer in Connecticut who is currently working on a 1937 Bugatti and a 1900 Panhard for the dealer that posted the ad, RK Motors Charlotte, which also lists several other big money collectible cars in its inventory. Carini vouched for the authenticity of the Mustang listing. Presumably, you’d have this car checked out by Jay Leno and everyone else with a doctorate in Mustangology and confirm the seller’s claim of having a museum curator’s appraisal at $1.25 million before dropping that kind of cash. But if true, this 3376-mile example driven on the oval by Benson Ford, the youngest son of Edsel Ford, seems to have quite a history.


According to the seller, three pre-production cars were made during the first hour of Mustang production using Falcon parts. The stock 260-cubic inch V-8 was swapped for a 289 meant for the GT40, detuned to 450 horsepower, and the suspension was dropped and stiffened. Two of these cars left for Indy. One broke down, while the third prototype car was eventually scrapped. After the race, Ford took this car back and later gave it to Sebring International Raceway, where it was used as a loaner and parade car until 1974, when the track’s owner parked it for the next two decades. A private buyer then took the reins and restored it by replacing just five percent of the car’s parts. Even the windshield wipers are said to be original, and the seller claims the top was “never folded,” although at what point it stopped folding is a mystery. This as-built condition does not extend to the paint, however, although the restorer repainted it with rigorous attention to duplicating the original.


All told, Ford made 35 replica pace car convertibles (without the beefed-up powertrain) and another 190 hardtops. None, however, has ever attracted the princely sum this one commands. Mustangs are, by their sheer popularity as one of the longest-running, most successful automotive nameplates in history, a common sight. A “Bullitt” remake of Steve McQueen’s 1968 Mustang Fastback, originally built for McQueen’s son, sold for $88,000 just a few years ago. Ford sells brand-new 1964.5-1966 Mustang bodies to any restorer. Even the owner of the first Mustang ever sold, as documented by Ford, doesn’t have a million-dollar car. According to the Hagerty price guide, some premier Shelby models are commanding six figures, with the most pristine 1965 GT350R estimated at $1.1 million. But it only matters what someone finally pays.


For now, it doesn’t appear that anyone with the means thinks that this Mustang is a million-dollar car, even with its unique provenance. If someone comes along to prove otherwise, step right up.


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