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JUN 5, 2024 | John M. Clor


Teal mustang in parking lot

TIPP CITY, OH. – There are many great reasons to visit the Gale Halderman Mustang Museum, located about 15 minutes off Interstate 75 just north of Dayton, Ohio. Founded by the late Gale Halderman – the famed Ford designer who was the principal stylist behind the original Ford Mustang – this cool Mustang “Man Cave” fills the Halderman homestead’s barn with all things Mustang and Ford. But for the past couple of years now, Mustang clubs have discovered a new and very compelling reason to schedule a road-trip cruise-in at the barn – one that will live on long after they drive home. And that‘s exactly why a couple of dozen members of the West Michigan Mustang Club made the drive down to the town of Tipp City, Ohio, last month for a special day dreamed up by Halderman himself.

A few years ago we revealed a wonderfully unique recognition program for Mustang club members who are deeply involved in the hobby. It’s called the Halderman Museum Mustang Club Member Hall of Fame and it’s the brainchild of none other than the man who penned that first Mustang. Of all the interaction that Halderman had with Ford and the Mustang world over his lifetime, the part he enjoyed the very most was spending time with Mustang club members. In his retirement, he absolutely loved hopping on a golf cart at a Mustang show to see all of the cars and to stop and chat with owners, pose for a picture, or autograph a car. He loved to hear their Mustang stories and was humbled more by their appreciation for the car than any award he had ever received.

rear of white mustang with other mustangs in parking lot

orange mustang in parking lot

Back in 2019, Gale sat down in the barn with us to talk about an idea of his. “You know who really deserves awards but who never gets proper recognition?” he asked us. But before we could answer, he said “It’s Mustang club people. If it weren’t for Mustang clubs and their members, the Mustang wouldn’t have become the icon that it is today. But the people who run and volunteer their time in most of these local clubs never get any recognition. I like having them come here to the museum. We should do something special for them.”

black and grey mustangs in lot

black and white mustangs in a line

We agreed – but before we could come up with any sort of program, Gale passed away on April 29, 2020, and never got the chance to see his idea come to fruition. So Gale’s daughter Karen and granddaughter Lauren (with help from Marcie Cipriani of The SVT Store as well as our own Ford Performance Club Connect program) officially launched the Halderman Museum Mustang Club Hall of Fame late in 2021. Since that time, eight club principals from clubs in Michigan Indiana, New Jersey and Ohio, have been inducted into the Hall – which includes a luncheon awards presentation by Ford Performance, a beautiful award to take home and a special plaque mounted on the main beam in barn for the world to see. There’s nothing else like it.

After a decades-long career at Ford, Halderman was inducted into the Mustang Club of America's Mustang Hall of Fame in 2004 and was presented with an Iacocca Award during the Mustang 50th Celebration in Charlotte. He soon became active in Mustang club events and the Ford enthusiast community. In 2014, Gale and Karen converted the barn on his family’s property in his hometown of Tipp City into what they called the Halderman Museum, which holds a collection of artwork and ads, as well as drawings and all sorts of Ford and Mustang memorabilia. You’ll also see some of Gale’s original sketches, plus a late-model Thunderbird, a Model T and a Model A and, of course, a rotation of various Mustangs in his museum, including Gale’s own 1965 Fastback and 1966 Convertible.

Karen and Lauren had decided to keep operating the Halderman Museum after Gale’s passing four years ago to keep his legacy alive, as long as the Mustang community supports it through donations (there is no admission charge or rental fee) and via the sale of Halderman Museum merchandise. It’s a great, informal place for an interesting look at the Mustang hobby, for a club road-trip getaway tour or even hosting an off-site club meeting. Scheduling a cruise-in to the Halderman Museum barn can include a strolling tour or even lunch from a local food truck that can be arranged on-site.

group eating lunch

man standing in museum

Once nominees are selected for the museum’s Hall of Fame award, clubs arrange a cruise-in to the museum for a full tour, the induction ceremony by Ford Performance Club Connect, a light lunch and a photo shoot – and sometimes visits to other attractions that are nearby, including the Armstrong Air & Space Museum and the Bicycle Museum of America in Wapakoneta, and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force or the National Packard Museum near Dayton.

blue mustang in lot

side of white mustang in museum

This spring, it was the West Michigan Mustang Club (WMMC) who decided to nominate longtime club principal Rick Bishop for the award. Although Bishop had endured a series of personal difficulties over the past several years, his dedication to the club never faltered -- and the WMMC wanted him to be honored for his perseverance in overcoming so many life challenges. The visit began with a presentation by visiting Mustang author Robert Kennedy, who went over the content in his new hardcover history “Unbridled” before doing a book signing for the group. While participants shared some laughs during the Hall of Fame presentation and many Mustang stories, there were very few dry eyes and plenty of applause when Bishop was handed his award. He was all smiles later as the group toured the museum and enjoyed a hot-dog lunch – making their cruise-in at the barn an unforgettable experience.

If you know of a club member who deserves such an honor, all you need to do is to nominate them. Nominees for the Halderman Museum Mustang Club Hall of Fame must be (or have been) an active Mustang club member with a minimum of five years of service to the club and who has made a significant impact on the success of the club and/or the enjoyment of his or her fellow members. Nominations should have the support of a club’s board or membership before submission in the form of a Word Doc with the full name of the club, the nominee (plus any club title or positions held) and a written explanation of the reasons why the nominee deserves inclusion in the hall and what contributions have been made to the club. Clubs can send that Word Doc along with a .jpeg image of the nominee to Ford Performance in an email to ClubHub@Ford.com with “Halderman Museum Mustang Club Hall of Fame Nomination” in the subject line.

blue mustang with other mustangs in lot
grey mustangs in parking lotFord Performance has agreed to review all applications with the Halderman family and to help notify the club contact of a determination for acceptance into the Halderman Museum Mustang Club Hall of Fame. There’s only one catch: All induction ceremonies must be done at the Halderman Museum in Tipp City, Ohio, with the nominee and club members present. (The museum asks not to send in a nomination if the nominee or club is unable to make a trip to the museum for the award.) Inductees will receive a custom, laser-cut metal Halderman Museum logo award, with a corresponding metal recognition plaque to be permanently mounted on the main beam in the museum’s lounge. The Haldermans will consider up to three inductees per year (Spring, Summer & Fall) and will work with clubs to set up an induction ceremony date. 

Tours of the museum are set up by appointment only; if you’re not on social media, you can find contact information on the museum’s website HERE. The museum can help with info on securing lunch or a food truck, plus for other area attractions as well as dining and lodging options. So if you know of a fellow Mustang club member who’s accomplished much over the years for your organization, consider nominating them for the Halderman Museum Mustang Club Hall of Fame. Their legacy – just like that of Gale Halderman and even the Mustang itself – deserves our recognition.

grey mustang in parking lot

grey and blue mustangs parked in lot

blue and grey mustangs in lot

blue mustang in lot