These faithful Mustang owners know how to celebrate 55 years of America’s pony car in style

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s550 shelby gt350 Cameron Neveu

To honor the Mustang’s 55th birthday on April 17th 2019, Ford invited employees, owners, and enthusiasts out to the Blue Oval’s Global Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, for an early morning Cars and Coffee. Over 100 cars spanning more than half a century were on hand for the celebration. The festivities included a wall of donuts, gallons of coffee, a live DJ, and a food truck serving grilled cheese—Ford knows how to throw a birthday party.

Ford Performance also brought a couple of their latest toys, including a 2020 Shelby GT500, Joey Logano’s NASCAR Mustang stock car, and Scott McLaughlins’s Australian Supercar Mustang.

Party-goers walked the grounds casually conversing about all things Mustang. Mid-way through the birthday blowout, we all paused to watch Ford pull the silk cover off their latest iteration of the 2020 ‘Stang, a turbocharged four-banger.

Mustangs fanatics are an awesome group of diehards that love their pony car above all other cars. They get tattoos of the horse emblem on their body. They travel days to attend Ford Nationals in Carlisle. Or in this case, many of these intransigeants even skipped work to take a trip to Dearborn. It’s no surprise they had a lot to say. Here are some of the highlights we spotted in between trips to the food truck.

Rick Jones’ 1965 Mustang

65 mustang drag setup
Cameron Neveu

In January 1965, Rick’s father bought this Mustang new, right off the lot. Twelve years ago, Rick refreshed the coupe, yielding a 289-cubic-inch motor now far from stock, with a larger cam and lighter Dart heads. Putting the power to the wheels is a Ford 9-inch rear-end with a Detroit locker. Hello, smoky burnouts. You can find Rick and his Mustang (being a model citizen, of course) at many cruise nights around the Motor City.

Charlie Kidwell’s 1988 Saleen Mustang

1888 mustang hatch
Cameron Neveu

This Saleen is an all-original time capsule. Charlie has owned it for 26 years. It’s such an stunning preservation that the stock vinyl graphics don’t even show signs of peeling.

Ken and Ann Rutkowski’s 1968 Shelby GT500 KR

red gt500 kr
Cameron Neveu

Ken bought his iconic performance pony in 1971. In 1975 he yanked out the engine and the car sat idle in his garage. Some 30 years later Ann finally leveled with her husband and said “You’re never going to get that car done. Take it somewhere.” So he did. After a head-to-toe restoration in 2001, Ken’s GT500 looked just like it did the day it rolled off the line. The couple live less than five minutes away from Ford’s headquarters so it only made sense to drive the car over for Mustang’s birthday party.

Will Butler’s 1986 Mustang

1986 Ford mustang fox
Cameron Neveu

Will picked up this sweet notchback in New York for only $1500. He bought the car, gave it a quick once-over and a new set of plugs, and immediately drove it the eight hours back to Michigan. He has plans to restore his new Fox-body Mustang. Until then, the ’86 ’Stang proves that you can have the same amount of fun as the guy that brings his 1970 Boss 302 (like the one sitting adjacent to Will), at a fraction of the price.

Doretha Billinger’s 1998 Mustang

mustang doretha billinger 1998
Cameron Neveu

“I just love my Mustang. I love the feel of it when you get behind the wheel,” says Doretha. She’s owned the 4.6-liter fourth-gen Mustang for about three years and frequently attends the local car shows and cruises around Detroit.

Gib Nichols’ 1966 Mustang

66 mustang coupe
Cameron Neveu

“When I was little I remember driving up to that entrance to drop my Dad off at work” says Gib as he points to the Headquarters’ front entrance. His family owned a 1967 Mustang, he took his driver’s test in a 1968 Mercury Cougar, and in high school Gib drove a 1966 Mustang. Eight years ago, Gib bought this ’66 Mustang in Texas and dropped a 5.0-liter from an old Fox body in the noise hole. Fellow members from the Shelby American Automobile Club have assisted Gib in getting this Mustang road-ready.

John Li’s 1966 Mustang

66 Mustang john li
Cameron Neveu

Days after John was hired by Ford as a IT planner in 2012, he bought this Sauterne Gold 1966 Mustang. John loves to spend time with his classic wrenching, rallying, and cruising. He has an intimate knowledge of the car, down to small hole under the dash where he once found a 30-year-old box of dusty prophylactics.

Bob Marshall’s 1969 Mustang

69 mustang convertible
Cameron Neveu

When Bob was a senior in high school, his parents bought a new 1969 Mustang. Bob was recently seeking a ’69 of his own and found this solid car out in California. After a mechanic accidentally dropped a bolt down the intake causing internal treachery in the engine, the Mustang sat stuffed in a garage. Bob has since restored the car to its former glory and the 351-cubic-inch Windsor is back to running like a champ.

Michelle Cotter’s 2016 Mustang

michelle cotter ford jacket
Cameron Neveu

Michelle’s grandfather, father, and uncle all worked for the Blue Oval. Back in the day, her parents even purchased a 1964.5 Mustang off the lot. About 40 years later, Michelle purchased her own 2016 Mustang from the dealership. Since then she’s put a new exhaust and over 34,000 miles on the car, racking up the mileage on trips to Mustang gatherings.

Greg Jacob’s 1968 California Special Mustang

mustang gt california special low
Cameron Neveu

Greg bought this California Special from a 28-year owner (in where else but California). Top to bottom the car is an all-original stunner. It still has the stock 289-cubic-inch engine and the factory installed scoops and trim Ford used to rejuvenate the mid-life first-generation Mustang.

I had so much fun conversing with these diehard Mustang owners. It was a shame that Mustang’s birthday party didn’t last all day, because we could have easily partied-on deep into the night. Now we want to know about your Mustang. What year is your pony? How long have you owned it? Did you restore it, or is it all original? Please share below.

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