It’s 17 April, 1964 and the first generation Ford Mustang has just gone on sale.
Over the next 24 hours Ford will sell almost 22,000 units – thanks to publicity generated by the car’s launch at the 1964 World’s Fair. Over the next year, the Blue Oval will sell more than 400,000 Mustangs.
That was Genesis, but the next big event in Mustang history, for me at least, happens 32 years later. It’s 1996, and I’m seven years old. I’m on a family trip to see my grandparents in Warwickshire, and a ’67 Fastback has just driven past us on the motorway. My jaw hits the floor, and the obsession of a lifetime begins.
I fell head over heels in love with the Mustang, and I knew then and there that I would make it my mission to own one. Now, at the age of 23, I’m doing well – I’ve got the show numberplate.
The trouble is, I don’t want to be let down. I don’t want to finally get the keys to my very own ‘Stang and find it to be a slow, cramped, very expensive wreck. They say never meet your heroes, and I’m worried 'they' might be right.
I don’t fancy a modern Mustang, like the one coming to Europe in 2015, because while I still love the looks and the performance I think it may have lost some of its charm over the years. No, I need a classic. In particular, I fancy a Shelby Mustang.
These days, well-maintained options can be found online for around the £30,000 mark, rising to £70,000 for an Eleanor Mustang replica – of Gone in 60 Seconds fame. For film buffs, Eleanor was the name given to a 1967 modified Shelby Mustang Fastback used in the 2000 remake of the 1974 film. Powered by a 5.7-litre V8 engine, the car was such a hit that it spawned numerous Eleanor conversions, some of which can still be found for sale.
It’s a valid option, definitely, but part of me still wants to find a new Mustang in an old body.
Which is why the Autocar office has had to suffer endless conversations today about the car above – a 1966 GT350CR built by coachbuilders Classic Recreations. What makes it special? While on the outside it looks every inch as special as the original Shelby Mustangs, inside it’s a modern, reliable sports car.
Powered by a 538bhp 7.0-litre small-block Ford Racing engine, this Mustang’s got coil-over suspension, power steering and a Tremec five-speed manual gearbox fitted as standard.
It’s a classic car, then, without the classic car foibles.
But here’s the kicker. Even though this car is a one-off being auctioned during the Monterey Car Week next month, the company behind it says that it has enough parts and materials to build up to ten of them annually.
Imagine that. Ten more Shelby Mustangs made every year, and each with the modern underpinnings needed to make them every bit as capable in the modern world as their forefathers were when the Mustang first arrived.
Prices? Well, that’s a grey area at the moment. Because the first model hasn’t yet been sold at auction there’s no precedent for what people will be willing to pay.