FERNDALE, MI – Cruising Woodward Avenue from the Detroit border north all the way up to Pontiac, Michigan, has been a staple of car life in The Motor City that began in the late 1950s. But, with the death of the muscle car era due to gasoline shortages and rising insurance costs, the practice of cruising died out in the mid to late 1970s.
When Detroit muscle returned in the mid 1980s, so did cruising Woodward. We’re sure that included the assorted gratuitous burnouts and classic Ford/Chevy/Mopar stoplight-to-stoplight close encounters of the 1960’s kind. In fact, local enthusiasts got so enthused about the return of that weekend car ritual that in 1995, a group formed a committee to create a special one-day Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise as an annual summer event.
It was a smash hit, attracting over a million spectators and thousands of hot cars from street rods to classics to factory muscle.
Cruising Woodward Avenue has become the largest single-day automotive event in the world, held every August along the famous route, and now over 20 years and counting. With this kind of popularity, it only made sense that perhaps some manufacturers would be interested in producing a small run of commemorative Woodward Dream Cruise special edition vehicles.
Indeed, a special edition Mustang commemorating the Woodward Dream Cruise got off the ground in Detroit, thanks to Richard Bartus of the Ford Dealers Advertising Group. They endorsed the idea to build a special edition 1997 Mustang, featuring the iconic looks à la the Blue-over-White 1965-66 Shelby GT-350.
Chis Dowdey at famed automotive supplier A.S.C., located in Southgate, Michigan, had designed the car, which the FDAG approved, and A.S.C. built, starting with an original prototype numbered #00. With orders from 31 Detroit area Ford dealers, the program was off and running.
Ford’s Dearborn Assembly Plant shipped 57 more cars to A.S.C. just 20 miles away, for the transformation into Woodward Dream Cruise Edition Mustangs, which included the following:
Borla Exhaust System
Side Exhaust Covers
Body Colored Wheels
Side Air Intake Scoops
Custom Rally Stripe Package
Windstop (Convertible Only)
Essentially a Detroit-area commemorative “Dealer Special” along the lines of so many Regional Special Editions that have dotted Mustang history over the years, the cars are quite rare. Most are in the hands of collectors, so they are not-often seen.
Fran and Becky Cosentino of Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania, own and show this 1997 “Woodward Dream Cruise” Mustang convertible – which is #12 of the 58 built. (The mix was 32 convertibles and 26 coupes.) We caught up with them at the 2016 Carlisle Ford Nationals, where they graciously allowed us a look at all of the documentation that they have with their car. Like the annual cruise itself, the 1997 Woodward Dream Cruise Edition Mustang remains a modern tribute to the Motor City’s colorful past.
FORD PERFORMANCE PHOTOS / COURTESY JERRY HEASLEY