The unassuming Caspian Blue Ford Mustang sat among the sale’s headline cars. Equipped with a 170-cid straight-six, 3-speed gearbox, and little 13-inch wheels, the '65 notchback seemed uncomfortable among the Corvettes, Hemis, and Shelbys surrounding it. Certainly pretty, but unspectacular in every way. Except one.
It was the second Mustang ever built: chassis number 00002.
Mecum Auction’s Spring Classic Collection sale, held in Indianapolis this past weekend, offered the car and announced a pre-sale estimate of $450,000-$650,000, a 44 percent spread. The $450,000 estimate was many times the value of a comparable, beautifully-restored six-cylinder early Mustang notchback. Thus the question facing bidders was if the lowest Mustang VIN someone can buy was worth a premium of roughly twenty times. We wondered that, too.
By all accounts the title of "First Mustang" is secure with the V-8 convertible with chassis number 00001. The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., owns it. The consignor carefully described this one as "the first VIN assigned to a hardtop." It is clearly a preproduction car with many details of assembly and construction that were not used once production got underway, in earnest.
The angled shift lever on the 3-speed is one of those, a deviation from standard Mustang practice that is immediately apparent upon even a cursory look.
It has been meticulously restored to showroom condition and is probably as rigorously documented as any Mustang on the planet. Both the consignor and the auction company were brutally honest about what is known including the "date correct" engine (i.e., not the original one) under the hood.
So how did it perform? The bidders on the auction floor, phones, and internet clearly disagreed with Mecum. There was no apparent bidding action and auctioneer Mark Delzell didn't even take it beyond $300,000.
This little Mustang coupe is, aside from its VIN, terminally mundane and its attempt to leverage its low VIN into a spectacular result proved to be, at best, wildly optimistic. After all, who wouldn't rather have a K-code 4-speed GT convertible, even with a VIN in the hundreds of thousands?
Do you think this was a missed opportunity or was the pre-sale estimate way too high?