$1.1 million is a substantial amount of money. Further, it’s a very substantial amount to spend on a single car, but when it comes to this rare bird of the Ford Mustang world… perhaps it’s a bit of a bargain.
As its doors proudly display, this is the Ford Mustang convertible that was used to pace the 1964 Indianapolis 500, in the process becoming the world’s first Mustang pace car.
It was built during the first hour of official Mustang production, completely disappeared for a decade and a half beginning in the ’70s, but has now resurfaced to dazzle anew. Its home is now the RK Motors dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina, priced at $1.1 million.
Let’s pump the brakes for a second, though. In the run-up to the launch of the brand-new Mustang in 1964, Ford’s Lee Iacocca developed a huge marketing campaign to push the pony car into the spotlight. For some reason, a Mustang pace car wasn’t part of the ’64 rollout. Instead, the famous Indy 500 was planned to be paced by a Ford Falcon, that is, until Iacocca reconsidered. Mere hours into the first day of Ford Mustang production, three pony cars were plucked from the assembly line and shipped to legendary racing outfit Holman Moody for pace car preparation. Bear in mind, they had to survive speeds in excess of 130 mph. Holman Moody got stuck in, and replaced the stock 260ci V8s with “experimental” 289ci V8s that were being developed for the legendary Ford GT40. A lower, stiffer suspension also followed, as did rear flag stanchions.
Unfortunately, the turnaround time needed for the three pace car builds was just too short, and development of the third car was scrapped. Strike two against the pace cars; one suffered a mechanical failure upon arrival to the Indy 500, leaving just this car to pace the race, and ‘pace’ it did, with none other than Benson Ford (one of Edsel Ford’s sons) at the wheel, pictured above. Its post-race life is almost even more interesting however. Following the Indy 500, Ford handed the car off to Florida’s Sebring International Raceway where it was used as a parade vehicle and driver loaner until 1974. At this point, its pedigree had long been diluted and it was locked away in a storage unit, largely forgotten. Until 1991, that is.
An official from the Mustang Club of America had heard rumors that the car still existed, so they talked with the track’s owner and became the first and only private owner of the iconic pace car. A clinically thorough restoration followed suit and the special 1964.5 Ford Mustang is said to be 95 percent original with 5 percent of components either new or custom built. As far as “unique” cars go, it’s truly a one-of-one. If you’ve got a spare $1.1 million lying around, well… it could be yours too.