Mustang Madness at the Petersen

1965 Mustang: Reagan Campaign car

I can’t think of a better place in Los Angeles to hold a car show than the Petersen Autmotive Museum. The Petersen is all about the car, and this city is one of Mustang’s most important markets. Historically 20% of the Mustangs made are sold in California…with the lions share here.

This weekends show at the Petersen didn’t disappoint.  First up was a guided tour through the history of the Mustang by Dave Kinney, Publisher and Founder of Hagerty Price Guide, the bible of old car pricing and history for collectors.  His tour through the last 50 years of Mustang was both informative and fun.

We started with this 1965 Mustang Convertible with 16,000 miles on it from Ronald Reagan’s gubernatorial campaign.  This car was chosen over all the others around at the time as it was youthful, different and didn’t raise the bar of snobbery that would have alienated voters of the time.  As we toured the generations of Mustang he offered up bits of trivia on each generations.  The first generation saw over 1.2 million cars sold from 1964 1/2 through 1966 production, something that hasn’t been duplicated in a while.  He opines that the Mustang promise, a sports car anyone can afford from the basic models to the performance models is what made it the tremendous hit.

1974 Mustang II survivor, click to embiggen

Finding cars wasn’t a problem,  except for the second generation, the Mustang II. That oft maligned generation was right for the times and sold 4 million units from 1974 to 1978. The problem was many collectors don’t consider it a true Mustang, and most models have since been crushed and recycled. For this show they curators put out a call to collectors and clubs across the country and could not get any one with a car to lend them for Mustang Madness. Almost at the 11th hour they found one in New Jersey, but the cost to ship there and back was going to exceed 4K. They turned to Craigslist…and voila the found one for sale, running in Palm Springs. They bought it sight unseen, this survivor was the proverbial little old ladies car. The arrived to find it driveable and drove it to the Petersen for the show.

Mustang Custom Prostocker, click to embiggen

Kinney talked about the long history of customs and “special editions” used over the years to keep sales lively for the car. Among the more outrageous examples was of a 1968 Custom Prostocker. This car has a massive supercharger attached to its V8 pumping out tons of power for straight line performance at the drag races.

1968 California Special, rare 390V8 with 4 speed, click to embiggen

Another example of special editions to keep sales alive was this example of the California Special. This limited edition car was a special ode to California for being such a large chunk of Mustang sales. It got a lot of cosmetic and performance upgrades. Standard on the car was the sequential taillamps borrowed from the Shelby Mustangs. This example is one of only 400 made with the 390V8 and 4speed tranny combination that model year.

Mustang serial number 000002 on display, click to embiggen

After the show there were several other exhibits. Right across from a pre-production 2015 Model was serial number 00002 from 1964 1/2. This is the lowest numbered Mustang still in existance. A nice nose to nose comparison of the original and the next generation to be launched later this summer.

Stunning 1st generation Mustang Convertible, click to embiggen

On the upper levels of the Petersen’s parking garage was a show of collectors cars. These cars were driven from Galpin’s valley location rally style Sunday morning just for this show. There was voting open for “peoples choice” awards for the best in show cars with monetary prizes. I can tell you there were 2 votes for this really nicely restored and redone 1st generation convertible, one by me and the other by my wife. We wanted to take that car home!

More pics of Mustang Madness and the Petersen in general can be found in my flickr album.