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APR 4, 2024 | By John Clor

In Their Own Words: Owners Reflect On What Mustang’s 60th Birthday Means

Mustang in the driveway

DEARBORN, Mich.. – As fans from around the globe gather this month to celebrate the 60th birthday of the Ford Mustang, now’s the perfect time to reflect upon the importance of such an automotive milestone. We could go all the way back to April 17, 1964, at the New York World’s Fair when Ford’s Lee Iacocca unleashed the Pony Car upon the car-buying public to begin the process of telling Mustang’s story of significance. Or even before that – or at any point in the car’s seven generations over six decades of production. But there are already countless books on the history of the Mustang that do that. So, because we know “Everyone Has A Mustang Story,” we decided to let Mustang owners themselves tell us what this iconic Ford means to them as it tuns an ever-youthful 60. Check out some of these heartfelt and very personal Mustang experiences below – because Mustang still takes the cake!Mustang family then and now “Anyone who knows my parents, Sam and Nina Kay Graybill of Richfield, Pennsylvania, knows their long history with Mustangs. It was their smiling faces you would wave to as you passed them with the top down on a warm summer day. What you may have missed back in the day is my sister and me in the back seat with our hair whipping us in the face as we tried to keep our things from blowing out of the car. We’d be urging our dad to ‘floor it’ so we could hear the growl of the engine. We couldn’t really hear any of our parents’ conversation because of the wind flying by us at 55 miles an hour. Occasionally we’d get smacked with a bug that made an unfortunate turn, but we would arrive at our destination thinking we were the coolest kids around. In truth, we probably looked like we hadn’t combed our hair in a month, and we were red-faced from the sun.

“Did we care? Nope! We had arrived in dad’s red 1965 Mustang!

“My dad has owned more Mustangs than I can remember. He restored some and resold others. I learned to drive manual and automatic transmissions in a Mustang. I held the light as dad would work on his Mustangs, changing the oil, spark plugs and tires. He made sure my sister and I knew how to do routine maintenance on cars before we had our driver’s licenses. 

I drove a ’66 Mustang coupe to high school and, when the carburetor flap would stick, I’d be under the hood removing the air filter, and using a pencil to hold it open so I could start the car. Boys would offer to help, but I knew what I was doing! On my wedding day, I rode away from the church in -- you guessed it -- a Mustang. My children borrowed grandpa’s Mustangs for proms, and many homecoming queens have ridden through parades in them.

“My parents have traveled -- and still travel -- all over the United States with their Mustangs to car shows. Ribbons and awards grace my father’s office and garage along with pictures of all the wonderful friends he has made over the years. Today. there are only few ponies left on our family farm. Most of them belong to my parents, but the screaming yellow Mustang you see in the photo is mine. I’m older now, but nothing is more fun than driving my Mustang with my grandchildren in the back seat yelling, ‘go faster!’ I guess the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.”

--- Tina Shirk

“To me, six decades of the Ford Mustang means that the huge fan following and the love for this iconic car has never died. Rather, it has created a worldwide family of people and owners who have celebrated Mustang each and every year for the last 60 years – with no end in sight!”
--- Mike Rey

“Thinking about what Mustang means to me always takes me back to 1968 and waiting for my father to purchase a 1968 C-code coupe while I sat in a 1969 Mach 1 in the parking lot. The anticipation of riding home in a Mustang with my dad always stuck. In 1973 after the Indy 500, we took the Mustang to Milwaukee for the Indy Car race there. Dad had on his chrome shades and we hit the road. Later I learned to drive in that car, and I got my first ticket in that car.

“Now I’m a dad, and 15 years ago I got the idea to find that car for daughter Alyssa. I found that it is in Terre Haute now, and it has been heavily modified, so it’s not really the same car in reality that I knew, but it will always be the car we drove home when I was 8 years old – and the car that sparked all of our Mustang adventures since then with my own family.”

--- Mark Badgley

“I think of my first new Mustang. It was a 1982 Mustang GT with a 4-speed and the new H.O. 5.0 motor. It had that Foxbody design that some loved, and some didn't. I loved it. When picking up the car the General Manager at Mullinax Ford was acting like daddy telling us how dangerous this new H.O. Mustang motor was. Well . . . he was right. This new Mustang was laughed at by some Z-28 drivers – however, when I put it out on the street, it trashed every stock 350 Chevy V-8 on the road (and I mean total annihilation.

“It made me a Mustang guy or life. I’ve owned and sold over 15 Mustangs since – and still love them.”

--- Guy Reph

“I recall that mom got one of the first 1965 Mustang Coupes in Minnesota. Ivy Green with a black vinyl top. It was a C-code car with a 4-speed. I was 15, and this car had my name on it -- until she traded it in for a red 1968 Fastback, last of the C-code cars, but still a 4-speed. I was hooked, but got drafted and was raising a family in the military.

“I finally got my first Mustang, a red 1969 Mach 1, and the game was on. Over the past 49 years we have owned 46-plus Mustangs. I’ve bought and fixed up many nice ones for my fellow pilots. I have also owned 14 Shelbys.”Gary Ostberg

--- Gary Ostberg

“Mustang means being in production for 60 straight years. Building on its success since 1964. Staying true to its roots and building a car that is truly collectible.”

--- Christopher Welborn

“If it wasn’t for my dad (a Chevy guy) buying me my first Mustang in 1984, I wouldn’t have met such an awesome group of people, including my husband. I wouldn’t have attended such awesome events, either. It’s not just a car, it’s a lifestyle. It’s like potato chips, can’t just have one.”

--- Beth Schoedel Siek

“When I first saw the Mustang I knew it was not my father’s car -- this one was made for me (even though I was too young to buy and too young to drive). When I saw the Mustang Fastback I knew I found a car for me! The lines, the sound and oh -- the power! It was mesmerizing. It was the ultimate muscle car and the one I wanted.

“All these years later I still love the car and still own one. In fact I think it might be time to find another one. Can never have too many -- as many owners will attest!”

--- Bill Waldron

“Mustang is a bond and a brotherhood that makes me want to share good times -- from cruising to just hanging out and enjoying the common passion of Mustang.”

--- Brian Batko

“I still remember my first Mustang experience and sighting in 1964. I was 12 years old and more interested in baseball than cars. We were living in California and I was riding somewhere with my dad in our station wagon and he got all excited and said, ‘Look, there's one of those new Mustangs!’ I looked where he was pointing and saw a dark blue Mustang coupe for the first time in my life. After than it became a game to point them out.

“Over the next couple of years, it was not hard -- as Ford built a million of them within the next two years. By the time I got in high school four years later they were starting to show up in the school park lot. My high-school girlfriend in my junior year had a 1966 Mustang Coupe that I rode to school in daily. She was gone the next year, but another lucky friend got a new 1969 Mustang our senior year and I continued to ride daily in a Mustang.  

“The next year I was starting college and it was my turn to join Team Mustang. That fall, my dad and I went looking and we found a left-over new 1970 Mustang Sportsroof with the Grabber Package. It was Grabber Yellow and had a 302 with an automatic. I kept that Mustang for over 20 years and drove it 187,000 miles. It was the start of a 55-year Mustang relationship for me.Mustangs in the driveway

“Through the years I've had a couple of 5.0 Foxbodies and a 2003 Mach 1, and a couple of S197 Shelby GT500's -- as well as three different Mustang convertibles thrown in, just for fun. Even today, I own a 1970 Mach 1, a 2014 Shelby GT500, and my daily driver is a 2019 Mustang Convertible. When they quit making Ford Mustangs, I'll quit driving.”

--- Bill Hamilton

“I think what Mustang means is different by age group. But for me it means the epitome of the muscle car era. High performance, high style. It’s the dream car you wanted when you were learning how to drive. It’s Bullitt, Eleanor and the greatest movies all wrapped around a car.

“It’s keeping it going -- in spite of the economy, fads, and management changes. It’s a Chevy girl who found her love for Mustang and still does – making it the longest continuing production model since 1964. It’s a legend!”

--- Amy Boylan

“To me, 60 years of Mustang has given me some wonderful friends and memories from all over the country. I am 67 now and have been a Mustang guy ever since my cousin got a new one in 1967. Still going strong!”
---  Bobby Spedale

“What does Mustang mean to me? It’s about collecting them, sharing experiences with them, enjoying them with car clubs and the people you meet. I own a 1966, 1970 and 1984 convertible, as well as a 2011 GT and a 2013 Boss 302 Laguna Seca. Each car has its own appeal, its own characteristics, its own ‘vibe.’ There was a typical Saturday night when I was cruising in my 1966 convertible. A couple pulled up next to me at a stop light and asked if I wanted to ‘trade?’ They were driving some sort of two-seater Mercedes, which was probably worth a lot more than my car. But was it as fun to drive as my car was? Probably not – not if they were willing to trade pink slips for it. Needless to say, I still have the '66 all these years later.

“One of my favorite Mustang experiences was when I wasn’t even driving a Mustang at the time. I was driving on a Detroit-area freeway when I pulled up next to something that looked like a stretched Chrysler K car. I wanted to get a look at who was driving this car. As I got a look, I was astonished to see Lee Iacocca sitting in the passenger seat, looking straight ahead. He had his hands folded across his midsection, with big cigar in his hand. I looked at the driver, and then he just nodded his head ‘yes.’ I had just purchased my '66 Mustang Convertible prior to this chance meeting, and boy did I wish I was driving that car on this fateful day! I never did get to give a big ‘thumbs up’ to Mr. I, but what a treat to see him on the freeway like that!

“So what is Mustanging all about? It’s driving down the road in my 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra. You stop at a light and approaching me on the cross street is a white Ford van being driven by none other than Jack Roush. He looks down at me in my Mustang Cobra and smiles, then gives me a big ‘Thumbs Up!’ I gave him one right back. Made my whole day!  It’s also about the time I was driving my 2003 Ford Thunderbird with the top down, and I had pulled up next to a lady driving a Ford Mustang Convertible with her convertible top down also. She took one look at my car and said to me, ‘My car wants to be your car when it grows up!’ I laughed and gave her a big smile. But not only did I never forget what she said at this chance meeting.”

--- Dean V. Ricci

“To me, Mustang means unbridled excitement, proud patriotism, and a healthy dose of rebellion against the status quo.”
--- Robert M. Kennedy

“I got involved with Mustangs when my husband purchased his 2007 Grabber Orange Pony Package. We joke that he had ordered his ‘midlife crisis’ car. Through his purchase we met a slew of people all because of this color. We like to say that all because of a car (Mustang) and all because of a color (Grabber Orange), we became family. Seeing all the fun and camaraderie he was having, I had to get my own. I purchased mine in October of 2009, an ’09 Premium Package V-6 Mustang in Grabber Orange. To me, it’s Go Orange or Go Home!”
--- Michelle Bednarz

“It was when I would have been around 10 or 11 years old, and my father had a 1965 Mustang Convertible. I remember riding in that car and thinking it was such a cool car. Being that it was a convertible, I loved that open feeling of the wind blowing by you while driving down the road. That car definitely planted the seed in my brain to own a Mustang for myself someday.

“I've been blessed to own 16 of them in my life so far. Up until about five years ago, my wife and I owned five of them at one time! We had two 1967's and a 1968. We would take them out on a weekend afternoons and evenings and cruise around, calling it ‘Oldies Night’ for us. I've been involved in the Mustang community for quite a long time and am a previous vice president of The Queen City Mustangers Club in Cincinnati. I still support all of our local Mustang groups and manage the Performance Department at Beechmont Ford. One of my favorite things is organizing our National Mustang Day event at the Halderman Museum Barn every year. I feel like the Ford Mustang is almost part of my DNA!”

--- Jeff Black

“I don't think there are any other enthusiast communities that come together like Ford Mustang owners do. I've also never seen someone looking miserable while sitting in a Mustang. It’s just pure smiles and adrenaline when experiencing the feeling a Mustang gives to everyone. For me, 60 years of the Mustang means more than anything else in this world and I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for the Mustang being in my life. I hope 60 years is only the beginning!”

--- Sami Lupacchino

“I've always loved Mustangs. My first one was a ’76 Cobra -- blue with white stripes. I bought her brand new and had to have a friend drive it home from the dealer because I didn't know how to drive manual.  But a few times up and down my parents’ driveway and I had her out the next day. I then bought an ’03 SVT Mustang Cobra for myself but that didn't last long. My husband stole her and made her a show car. I then had to buy my own Mustang so I bought a 2000 V-6 for a daily driver.

“ Not only did I have fun driving all the Mustangs over the years but when we joined the Garden State Region Mustang Club, we met so many great people from all over the U.S. They have become more than just friends -- they're all like family. The Mustang is one heck of a car to do all that!”

--- Sandy Locascio Acker

“I have owned several Mustangs over the years and I know that each one brings me joy. I have one favorite -- it was a 2006 Screaming Yellow coupe. My husband purchased it for me for my birthday. How I loved that car -- each and every time I sat in the driver’s seat, I smiled ear to ear!  Back in 2015 I decided that I wanted a new one so I ordered my first Mustang and had ordered every specification just the way I wanted it. She will be 9 years old in September and at this point she has 111,000 miles on her.  And to this day, I feel nothing but joy each and every time I push the button to start her. I love these cars and it doesn't matter your age -- these cars are fun to own!”Yellow S197 Mustang

--- Susan McCombs

“Well what Mustang means to me goes way back to 1964. My dad’s friend and our neighbor bought two of them in late ’64 -- a white 260 V-8 automatic coupe with a red interior for his wife, and a Vintage Burgundy ’65 289 3-speed stick for his son from Sunset Ford in Sunset Hills, Missouri. I remember going to their house and checking them out as a kid. Then his son Gary came down to my house one day and said, ‘You want to go for a ride?’ Heck yes! Boy I remember that day -- that little car took off in first gear and when he banged second gear I thought, ‘Wow this thing is fast!’ I only had my 1953 Ford V-8 stick to compare it to, so yes it was fast -- and so cool looking! I almost bought a beautiful ’69 metallic blue Mach 1 with gold stripes -- I think it was a 390. But I couldn’t make a deal with them on it.

“I had a bunch of Fords since then and still do. Our 2008 California Special we bought new off the showroom floor. Our 50 Years Anniversary Edition GT with the GT350 Stage 2 package that was available from Ford Performance in 2016 was my present to myself after surviving a triple bypass and a new cow aortic valve. So I’ve been a Ford Mustang guy since they came out -- it just took me a bit more time to get one after the kids grew up. We got a new 1995 first, then a new 1996 GT then traded it to get the new ’08 California Special which is still covered in storage. My wife came home one day tired of driving the Camry her mom gave her, so we found a new 50y Years Edition GT online. I called the dealer talked to my friend there, and we were on our way that day and the next day we owned it. What a great car!

“And oh -- my son bought a 1969 Mustang Grande and we restored it. That took three years but she is a beautiful car now and a nice driver with a 351 automatic and factory a/c and power steering and disc brakes. So yes -- Mustangs have held a special place with me and our family -- and still do.”

--- Dennis Kostial

“I bought my first Mustang about four years ago simply because I wanted a convertible and something sporty. It wasn’t until I drove it for the first time and started getting involved in the hobby that truly felt like I had found my family! The more and more I am in my car and with my fellow Mustangers, the more I feel like I was meant to be in this car. And it shows -- as I am now the president of the Music City Mustang Club in Nashville and a national director with Mustang Club of America as well as a certified judge for them. I truly love my Mustang and my Mustang family!”

--- Todd Broadway

“If it weren't for Mustangs, I never would have met so many awesome Mustang people. And getting to meet original designer Gale Halderman was the highlight of my experiences.”

--- David Turnbull

“Mustang definitely means a lot to me -- supposedly I was conceived in the back seat of a Mustang so there would be a possibility I wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for the Mustang! Also, I married a man who is so much involved with the Ford world and the Mustang that it actually has provided for us our whole married life. My children and my family have had a wonderful life thanks to the Mustang and our work with Ford Motor company. Celebrating 60 years is a tremendous honor for the Mustang and all the wonderful people we've met through the years have made for an amazing experience!”

--- Shelli Marti

“It was so hard to sum up what Mustangs means to be that I asked AI – and it was right on, as this is exactly how I feel about the Mustang. (It was my first car!):

1968 Mustang Fastback

“From AI: Number 1, it’s Heritage and Legacy: For many, Mustang represents a rich heritage of American automotive design and engineering. It’s not just a car, it’s a symbol of American ingenuity and craftsmanship. 2, it’s a Cultural Icon: Over its sis decades of existence, the Mustang has become ingrained in popular culture through movies, TV shows, and music. It’s often associated with themes of freedom, rebellion, and the open road. 3, is the Personal Connections: Many individuals have personal connections to the Mustang, whether it’s memories of driving one in their youth, restoring a classic model, or simply admiring its sleek design. These personal connections contribute to the emotional resonance of the brand. 4 involves Evolution and Innovation: Over the years, the Mustang has undergone numerous transformations, evolving to meet changing automotive trends and technologies. Its longevity speaks to Ford’s ability to innovate while staying true to the core values of the Mustang brand. 5 is the Community and Camaraderie: The Mustang has a vibrant community of enthusiasts who come together at car shows, rallies, and online forums to share their passion for the iconic pony cars, For many, being part of the Mustang community is like being part of a family. And finally 6, creating Aspirations and Dreams: For some, owning a Mustang is a lifelong dream or a symbol of achievement. The car’s powerful performance and timeless design continue to inspire generations of drivers.”

“Overall, 60 years of Mustang symbolize much more than just a car – it’s a testament to the enduring appeal of a cultural icon that has captured the imagination of millions around the world.”
--- Darlene Miller (with thanks to AI)