gail wise

Woman Who Bought the First Ford Mustang in 1964 Is a Detroit Celebrity

Gail Wise is certainly living up to her last name these days. On April 15, 1964, she bought the very first Ford Mustang for $3,447.50. Now, it's worth a whopping $350,000. How's that for a...wise purchase?

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press back in 2018, Wise recalled the first time she laid her eyes on the skylight blue convertible Ford Mustang in a Chicago Ford dealership all those years ago.

"I told the salesman I wanted a convertible and he said, 'I have none on the floor. Come into the back room, I have something special to show you,'" Gail said. "There were two Mustangs, one was a hard top. And he didn't even bother to show me that one. He lifted the tarp and I knew that convertible was for me."

On April 17, 1964, Lee Iacocca officially unveiled the Ford Mustang at the World's Fair in New York, so it was a pretty big deal for Gail to get it when she did.

"This was two days before, and it was all top secret," Wise said. "But he sold it to me. I drove out of that showroom with everyone waving at me and asking me to slow down. TV ran a lot of advertisements for Mustang but they never showed the car. They just showed the logo and said, 'It's coming.' For this to be out in April was a really, really big thing. People were so happy, giving me thumbs up, even the police. I don't remember having the top down, so it must've been cold. I wanted to keep driving, but I only had to go about 3 miles to get home."

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After two years of cruising in the Mustang herself, Gail married her husband Tom, and they and their four kids would end up using the Mustang as a family car.

The Wises got some great use out of the classic pony car until it broke down 15 years later. Tom insisted that they keep the car in the family garage, so that he could one day fix it. Finally, once he had retired, Tom started hunting for car parts on the Internet so he could begin work on restoring the car. During his search, he came across a story about someone who had bought a similar Mustang on April 16, 1964.

"Tom came to me and said, 'I think you bought the car a day earlier,'" Wise said. "And, sure enough, he went down to the basement and found the receipt and the owner's manual. Sure enough, I had purchased the car on April 15."

That's when the Wises called up the folks at Hagerty Classic Insurance, who are experts on collector cars, and after providing them with the necessary information, the Mustang was fully restored and is now valued between $350,000 and $450,000.

"It can be difficult to place a specific value on such a unique car and story," Hagerty spokesman Jonathan Klinger said. "A car with significant provenance like this -- being the original owner of the first-ever sold Ford Mustang -- would likely have a premium of around 10 times the current market price. Enthusiasts are drawn to the bookends of models. It is stunning that the first-ever sold Mustang is still owned by its original owner."

Gail Wise is now somewhat of a local celebrity thanks to her monumental purchase. She was at Ford headquarters back in early August 2018 to celebrate the sale of the 10 millionth Mustang, and the Wise Mustang was also displayed at the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, Michigan.

"It's like being a movie star at 76," Gail said. "I felt like a movie star at 22 when I bought the car. I mean, that was 54 years ago and we're still talking about it."

In 2021, Wise is still the proud owner of that first Mustang. And, yes, we're still talking about it!

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This post was originally published on August 15, 2018.

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