While Henry Ford's first car was sold to help finance the growth of his company, by the time Ford Motor Company came out with the Mustang, money was not so much of an issue. Largely the product of the effort of a younger Ford executive named Lee Iacocca, the Mustang was really just a glorified version of Ford' dowdy compact sedan, the Falcon or convertible body onto the Falcon chassis and offering a strong 260 . By dropping a sexy, 2-door notchbackci V8, Ford created a success that took the world by storm from the moment the public first laid eyes on it in April of 1964 at the World's Fair in New York.
Ford took orders for 22,000 Mustangs on the very first day it was offered for sale. The very first Mustang to come of the line, serial number 5F08F10001, was a Wimbledon White Convertible with a black leather interior, the top of the line 260 ci V8, an automatic transmission, and all the power goodies. Ford toured the car all around the United States and Canada to build interest in the car. Dealers would take turns displaying the car as customer quickly placed orders to buy a Mustangs for themselves.
One would think a vehicle of this importance to the company would be carefully monitored, but that was not the case. While on display for the promotional tour at a dealership in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadan airline pilot Capt. Stanley Tucker spotted the white droptop surrounded by a crowd in the window and promptly went in and purchased the car, replacing the Pontiac he had shown up in.
When Ford finally got word that their very first production Mustang, basically a preproduction prototype had been sold, they immediately went to task trying to retrieve the car. After much persuasion, Ford finally convinced Capt. Tucker to give the car back, some 10,000 miles, almost two years, and nearly 1 million Mustangs later. As part of the negotiations, however, a deal was struck: Ford would trade the first Mustang for the millionth one. On March 2, 1966 in Dearborn, Michigan, as the 1 millionth Mustang, another Wimbledon White convertible, rolled off the assembly line, Capt. Tucker was waiting to receive his new baby.
Since 1966, Mustang serial number 0001 has resided in the Henry Ford Museum, now The Henry Ford, in Dearborn, Michigan. It has been kept in the exact same condition as it was when Ford finally got the car back from Capt. Tucker; road wear, rock chips, and all.
To fully decode the body plate picture I have included, taken at the 2004 Meadow Brook Hall Concours, use this Classic Ford Mustang Dataplate Decoder.