The World's First Production Ford Mustang Owner

Gail Wise of Chicago thought to be the World's First Mustang Owner

Gail Wise Mustang
Gail Wise, owner of the first production Ford Mustang. Photo © Ford Motor Company

The Ford Mustang has been a part of American culture for more than half a century. Looking back, it’s easy to get caught up in all the various models that have been released over the years. So what about the smaller details like who in the world was the first Mustang owner? Have you ever thought about that? Many of us have.

Well, in an effort to shed some light on the matter, Ford Motor Company conducted their own research to identify who is thought to be the first production Ford Mustang owner in the world.

Her name is Gail Wise, she was 22 years old at the time, and she bought her 1964 ½ Ford Mustang Convertible on April 15, 1964 by trading in a friend’s 1958 Chevy and borrowing money from her parents.

Elementary School Teacher Looking for a First Car

Ford says that Wise made her purchase at Johnson Ford in Chicago. She was an elementary school teacher, still living at home, looking for her first car. While she was pretty open minded in terms of what she wanted, Wise did have one requirement: The car needed to be a convertible.

After touring the showroom floor and not seeing anything that really caught her attention, Wise asked the salesman if he had anything else for her to look at. As luck would have it, the dealership had a brand-new Skylight Blue Mustang convertible in the back storeroom. The Mustang, which hadn’t yet been revealed to the public, was hidden for the time being until its big reveal two days later on April 17th.

Very similar to the story of Captain Stanley Tucker (the guy who bought one of the first pre-production Mustang convertibles), Wise just had to have the car. Wise told the salesman, “That’s me,” said Gail. “That’s what I want!” In all, she paid $3,419 for the car. Little did she, or anyone else know, how popular the car would become before the week was over.

“From the first days it went on sale in 1964, Mustang has appealed to a broad range of customers, including both women and men of all ages, thanks to its blend of style, performance and affordability,” said Melanie Banker, Ford Mustang marketing manager. “Those attributes remain a part of the Mustang formula to this day.”

Talk of the Town

As for Wise, like many others, she was very happy with her Mustang purchase. In a recent interview, she recalled, “I was the coolest teacher in the school that year. Our custodian told me if he had a nickel for every time those boys stared at my Mustang, he could retire.” She added, “I felt like a movie star everywhere I went for the first few months. I remember everyone waving and flagging me down and giving me high-fives.”

Mustang Enters Family Life

A few years later, in 1966, Wise married her longtime love interest Tom Wise. A year later the two were living in the suburbs of Chicago with their Skylight Blue Mustang proudly parked in front of the house. Eventually, in 1974, the car became Tom’s daily driver. Then in 1979 the couple began to notice the car’s age was beginning to show. For instance, 15 years of driving in Chicago winters resulted in the car’s fenders beginning to rust.

In addition, the floors were starting to give way, and small mechanical problems began to catch up.

Restoring a Classic

Some folks might have decided to put the car up for sale at this point, but not Gail and Tom. In an effort to hang on to their special Mustang, the couple put the car in the family garage, where it would eventually stay for the next 27 years. As Gail recalls, there were times when she wanted to get rid of the car to free up space in the garage, but Tom wouldn’t part with it. His dream was to restore the Mustang to its glory days condition. Years later, in 2007, fresh into his retirement, Tom did just that.

“I’m a car guy, but not one of those restomod types. This car is bone stock, exactly as it came from the factory,” says Tom. In all, it took him three years to get the car back on the road.

As for Gail, she doesn’t drive the car anymore. “Tom put so much work into it that I’d be scared to scratch it. I’m happy to sit in the passenger’s seat these days,” Gail says.

According to the couple, the car has appeared in numerous Mustang car shows over the past few years. “The grandkids love it, everybody loves it,” says Gail. “We all go for rides around town, but of course we don’t go too far with them in tow since it doesn’t have seat belts, but it’s great fun.”

So looking back, not only do we have a better understanding, now, of who bought the first production Ford Mustang. Mustang enthusiasts everywhere can take pride in knowing the car is still logging miles out on the open road. Just another great example of the Mustang’s longevity in American car culture.

 

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Lamas, Jonathan. "The World's First Production Ford Mustang Owner." ThoughtCo, Jan. 20, 2016, thoughtco.com/first-production-ford-mustang-owner-2465100. Lamas, Jonathan. (2016, January 20). The World's First Production Ford Mustang Owner. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/first-production-ford-mustang-owner-2465100 Lamas, Jonathan. "The World's First Production Ford Mustang Owner." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/first-production-ford-mustang-owner-2465100 (accessed October 18, 2017).