DEARBORN, Mich – As the threat of rain diminished and the clouds broke, the Motor City edition of National Mustang Day 2017 was gathering momentum for what would be a daylong celebration of Ford’s beloved Pony Car. While National Mustang Day was celebrated all over the country – and the world, for that matter – none could claim a backdrop more majestic than in the shade of Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
On this Saturday morning of April 15th, 2017, we had the place to ourselves, which made this year’s gathering that much more special. A soaking overnight rain began drying out at 8:30 a.m. when the first few cars entered the front parking lot at The Glass House. Dedicated Mustang owners began busily wiping the splashes of road grime and water spots from their car’s flanks. But as more participants arrived, it was quickly apparent that none of the detailing was all that important. People looked beyond the water spray, undressed tires and water-spotted chrome. It was about the Mustang and owners coming together to celebrate the car as a community.
Late in 2015, the idea having the entire Mustang world come together to get out and be seen driving on the weekend closest to car’s “official” April 17 birthday took off, and National Mustang Day was born. The initial idea was to sign up 7,000-8,000 owners in Mustang clubs across the nation to create a Mustang activity with their club that could be shared on the National Mustang Day website in exchange for a free window decal. The total signups came closer to 15,000 for the first National Mustang Day in 2016. For the 2017, over 200 clubs representing enthusiasts in the United States, Europe and Australia participated in a National Mustang Day event.
In Dearborn, all Mustangs and their enthusiastic owners were welcomed to this year’s three-stop NMD driving tour, sponsored by the Mustang Owners Club of SouthEastern Michigan (MOCSEM), SAAC-Motor City Region, and a host of other area online Mustang communities. This allowed for a mingling among new and old friends alike. Just as all types of owners participated, all generations of Mustangs were in attendance, from first-gen drivers and a rare 1978 King Cobra, all the way up to a Shelby GT350H, limited-production Roush Mustangs and several S550 models.
“There is nothing pretentious about the people here today,” said Lori Walden of Niles, Michigan. “Whether their Mustangs are old or new, restored or original, this is a very inclusive group.”
Although National Mustang Day brought Ford enthusiasts together from across the country, across the border and even from Down Under, those who had gathered at Ford World Headquarters felt that celebrating here was somehow that much more special. After a photo op at WHQ, the Mustangs formed a caravan over to nearby Gateway Classic Cars off Rotunda Drive, where hot coffee, snacks and clean restrooms would be waiting, along with a chance to go inside and kick the tires of more than a hundred collectible cars.
A queue quickly formed entering the parking lot, and a pop-up Mustang Show-N-Shine appeared in the lot. Inside, we were warmly welcomed by the Gateway staff. Their showroom was filled wall-to-wall with American muscle cars, old classics, hot rods and even a few high-end imports, which provided another opportunity to talk cars and make new friendships.
“As a MOCSEM club sponsor, we were happy to be a part of their National Mustang Day celebration,” said Gateway sales support staffer Jeremy Clor. “After all, this is Dearborn – and we sell a lot of Mustangs to fans all over the globe from our company showrooms.”
From there, the group of about 40 Mustangs made the 20-minute drive out to the warehouse home of Ford exec Mike Berardi’s private car collection. Known inside the company as a Mustang fanatic and long a great booster of the local Mustang club scene, Berardi has generously opened his doors to allow Ford fans to tour his collection before. But each year there’s always the attraction of what Mike has added to this notable assemblage of Mustangs that represent all six Pony Car generations – nearly 50 in all! And then there was free pizza . . . glorious pizza to feed the hungry Mustang lovers who came to celebrate one of the world’s most iconic automobiles.
“It’s all about Mustang owners who are real car people,” said Vince Morabido, who came from across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. “I don’t just like Mustangs, but also all the things that would look great in my garage with my Mach I.”
As the last of the pizza disappeared and happy enthusiasts made their way back to their cars, the second annual National Mustang Day was in the books. When word spreads how enjoyable this event was, the number of cars will only grow.
FORD PERFORMANCE PHOTOS / COURTESY ARTISAN RICH MEDIA