From dinos to Space City, this ’65 New York World’s Fair Mustang saw it all

One of the rarest of all Mustangs—one of 23 used in the Ford Motor Company Wonder Rotunda during the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair—“time traveled” millions of miles to reach Mecum’s Indianapolis Auction. And you wouldn’t know by looking at its odometer.

As one of 100 new convertibles from Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln that went ’round and ’round on the Disney Magic Skyway, this ’65 was pulled along a track on an animatronic trip back to the Stone Age and then through time until it reached a futuristic city. So, though the car’s mileage may read 35,500, this Mustang has certainly traveled farther (if not under its own power). As a 1960s Ford newsreel explains, “In the first year alone, these cars—gliding effortlessly along a turnpike of tomorrow—traveled a distance equivalent to 34 times around the world.”

That number, indicating the combined mileage for the entire Skyway fleet (and perhaps padded a bit by Ford’s marketing team?) amounts to 846,634 miles, for those counting. Although there’s no way to tell exactly how many miles this particular ’65 Mustang traveled through the Disney diorama, Ford estimated that it was about 5000.

Though we have no reason to suspect Ford’s math, we can’t be sure whether the 35,500 miles shown on this Mustang include its Skyway trips without knowing whether Disney removed or otherwise disabled the driveshaft. An unmodified 1965 Mustang records mileage based on rear-wheel movement, the speedometer cable picking up speed from the output shaft of the transmission. If left untouched, this Mustang would accumulate odometer miles by moving forward even with the key off and the transmission in neutral. Regardless, the Mustang’s World’s Fair mileage might actually make the car more desirable, bearing witness to the unusual history that drives its six-figure pre-auction estimate: between $100,000 and $150,000. That’s three to five times the #2 (Excellent) condition value of a similar ’65 Mustang without World’s Fair provenance ($33,300).

The time-traveling Mustang, which will cross the block on May 21, has many of its original components, including its 120-horsepower, 200-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine, C4 Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission, and power convertible top. It also wears original factory glass, front bumper, and sheetmetal, including floors, trunk, doors, quarter panels, hood, decklid, and engine bay. Restoration parts are new-old stock or factory-correct replacements.

Built in January 1965, the Mustang wears District Sales Office Code 842011, indicating a special order by Ford’s Home Office Reserve. Following production at the Dearborn Assembly Plant, the Mustangs were treated to Ford’s Show Car Prep (welded seams, etc.) before being sent to contractor Carron & Company for Skyway modifications that included the addition of welded-on brackets, plywood “platens,” suspension tie-downs, and guide pins for mounting to the Disney-devised “booster brake” track.

After the convertibles’ six-month duty carrying an estimated 40,000 riders on the Magic Skyway, the cars were returned to Carron & Company for a refurbishment that included removal of the Skyway mounting components, a repaint, fresh upholstery and cleaning. The cars were then sold, many through Ford’s Dearborn resale lot.

Twelve Mustangs were used in 1964 and 11 in ’65. Of the 11 pony cars in the second-year fleet, only three are known to survive. This one (serial #5F08T383386) was purchased by its owner in 1978 and is the only one that has been restored. It won a Gold award from the Mustang Club of America in 2016. Even more impressive, it was once admired by dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, and cavemen. OK, so they were all animatronic, but the car is historic nevertheless.

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