Gail Wise, overwhelmingly recognized as the first owner of the Ford Mustang, will get to feel a bit like a superstar this week when her beloved sky-blue, restored convertible is put on display in Michigan.
The Ford Motor Co. will be showing off her car as well as its 10 millionth Mustang at Ford Media Club House Friday and for the Woodward Dream Cruise Saturday. Ford rolled its 10 millionth Mustang off the line at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan on Aug. 8.
"The car is attracting a lot of attention," she told ABC News Wednesday. "We always had a good time driving it."
Gail Wise, now 76, purchased her convertible in 1964, when she was just 22. She'd just graduated from college, was living with her parents in Chicago and had landed her first job as a teacher. The problem: She needed a car to get her to and from the suburbs every day.
Her parents lent her the money and on April 15, 1964, a Wednesday, off the family went in search of Gail Wise's first set of new wheels.
She said that at the dealership, she told the salesman that she wanted a convertible but he didn't have one on the floor. Instead, he invited her to the backroom for a special surprise.
"In the backroom under the tarp was this skylight-blue Mustang," Gail Wise told ABC News. "I was excited. It was sporty. It had bucket seats [and a] transmission on the floor. I said, 'Oh, yes! I want it.'"
She said the salesman told her he wasn't supposed to sell the car till Friday. While the car had not been presented yet to the public, Mustangs had already been shipped to Ford dealerships across America, in preparation of the rush.
But, Gail Wise bought the iconic pony car on the spot, sans test-drive or even price-haggling. The car cost $3,447.50.
She said when she pulled out of the lot, she felt like a movie star as people stopped and stared, waving at her and even giving her a high-five.
"I was excited I had bought a new car," Gail Wise said in an earlier interview with Ford Motor Co. "But, when everybody was staring at me and the car, I was like 'Wow! What did I buy?' I was really impressed."
"I felt like a movie star," she told ABC News.
Two days later, on April 17, 1964, she learned what the fanfare was all about as Ford executive Lee Iacocca presented the Mustang at the New York's World Fair.
After she married Tom Wise, he became the car's primary driver. Their family of six drove the car for 15 years until, Tom Wise said, he started having issues with the car in the late '70s. He said he put it in the garage with plans to eventually get it fixed.
The car sat in the garage for 27 years. Around 2005, they decided to restore it. The car is reportedly worth between $350,000 and $450,000.
After learning that another car owner was being considered the first to own a Mustang, Tom Wise checked the paperwork on their vehicle. Sure enough, their car had been purchased prior to that one.
In April, the 54-year-old Mustang was named the best-selling sports coupe for the third year in a row by IHS Markit, an industry analytics firm.