April 14, 1964 was a fine day in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It was on that day that a brand new Ford Mustang sitting on the lot at the George G.R. Parsons Ford dealership caught the eye of airline pilot Capt. Stanley Tucker.

Harry Phillips, a salesman at the aforementioned Newfoundland dealership, happened to be the first person available when Capt. Tucker inquired about purchasing the car.

“He saw it on the road and I was the lucky one that was closest to him at the time,” Phillips said. “He looked at it and said ‘It’s mine.’” 

With that, Phillips sold the Mustang for 4,300 Canadian dollars, the equivalent of $26,961.89 in today’s U.S. money. Phillips would later say it was the easiest sale he ever made. The problem was, the vehicle was never his to sell!

Following a mad scramble to find out where the Mustang with the first-ever serial number (5F08F100001) had gone, Phillips found out that the “Wimbledon White” 1964 Ford Mustang was a pre-production vehicle intended for display only until the Mustang’s official launch on April 17, 1964, three days after he sold the car.

According to Matt Anderson, curator of transportation at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, pre-production vehicles are essentially practice cars for assembly workers. They aren’t built with the intention of sale, and the first-ever Mustang is no exception. According to Anderson, the model is outfitted with crooked panels and is missing fine details such as rings around the door lock.

It took two full years to negotiate the car out of Capt. Tucker’s hands. In order to finally convince Tucker to give up the car, Ford had to give him a vehicle of equal importance, the one-millionth Ford Mustang builta fully-loaded 1966 model equipped with all the toys, bells, buttons, and whistles.

“He had put about 10,000 miles on it those two years,” Anderson told CNN. “But it was in good condition.”

Following the trade, the first-ever Mustang was put in storage. In 1984, the car debuted at the Henry Ford Museum.

As for Phillips, he made a career out of selling cars and retired in 1995. He would never again see the Mustang he mistakenly sold over 30 years earlier. That is, until this past September.

Thanks to a social media campaign entitled “Send Harry to Henry,” started by his granddaughter, Stephanie Mealey, Phillips, his daughter, and his granddaughter were given a VIP tour of the museum.

As part of the trip, Phillips and his family were given a full day of activities courtesy of Ford, including a tour of the Rouge plant where the historic Mustang was built. It was Phillips first time at the museum.

When asked about his excitement for the trip, Phillips stated, “It’s just fantastic, I just can’t believe it. Everyone tells me to take a bunch of pictures."

Categories: People