1964 Yukon Nuggets
This is a tale of Moe, McKenna and Mustang. That is to say: Moe Grant, Wayne McKenna and the Ford Mustang. The story begins in May 1964 when a Caspian blue, underpowered, no frills Mustang arrived at Whitehorse Motors on Main Street.
It had been shipped from Vancouver in a White Pass Rail container. Everyone in the Yukon knew about Ford's new sports model because they had introduced the trail-blazing car on world-wide television live from the New York Worlds Fair in mid-April, 1964. Price tag? Just over twenty-three hundred US. More than a million Mustangs sold in the next twenty-four months.
But not in Whitehorse. Moe Grant, then General Manager of Whitehorse Motors, had not even ordered a Mustang. Wayne McKenna, then a salesman, thinks the car was originally destined for Brown Brothers Ford dealership in Vancouver, but that an error was made in shipping.
Since it would cost too much to ship it back to Vancouver, Ford decided to let Whitehorse Motors sell it.
The Mustang hardtop was displayed in the Main Street showroom! McKenna remembers he had an immediate offer but, since he had not received the factory invoice and did not know the dealer cost, they rejected it.
After that, many people came by for a test drive, but it was a "plain Jane" car with a small six-cylinder engine and no options. There were no other offers to purchase. Manager Moe told salesman McKenna to drive the car as his demonstrator until it sold.
McKenna hated the car because it had no power or frills, not even power steering. However, he did put about two thousand miles on it. Then in the spring of 1965, Doug Wooten traded in his 1957 Plymouth, paid the difference, and the one-year-old Mustang hardtop had finally sold!
The car stayed in the Yukon until October, 1983, when its owner moved to Edmonton, Alberta. There it remained until December of 1993. Then a Mustang collector, Lyle Ciglar of Bozeman, Montana happened to be visiting a friend in Edmonton who told him about a Mustang he'd seen. When Lyle saw it, he knew this was something special. He bought the now-repainted Mustang hardtop for US $5700 and drove it home.
Ciglar was going to restore it, but never got around to it. Then in 1995, on a long drive, the engine blew. Soon after, an automotive author, writing a book about Mustang history, contacted Ciglar to get a photo of the car. When Scott McMullen of Temecula, California, saw the photo he offered US$ 13,000 for the car with no engine. But he had no time to restore it either, so he put an ad in Hemmings Auto Monthly. Bob Fria of LaCrescenta, California, another Mustang enthusiast, bought the vehicle that still did not run.
After more than three years of research work, Fria could document the car as the genuine pilot-plant pre-production Mustang, built on March 5, 1964, five days before Ford's official Mustang factory production run. It was one of five destined for showrooms in Canada in advance of the world-wide release. The Yukon car was Ford's first production Mustang hardtop.
Today, a proud Bob Fria has fully restored the Yukon treasure and drives it to shows, museums, and national Mustang events. So the Mustang that Moe Grant didn't order and Wayne McKenna had trouble selling more than forty years ago, is today a priceless piece of Ford Motor history.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.