As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we’re taking a look back at the King family’s visit to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The Civil Rights leader rode Ford’s Magic Skyway at the New York World’s Fair on a trip with his family in 1964. His wife and two other children followed in the next electronically controlled car.
But what does this have in common with the Gilmore Car Museum? One of the original Magic Skyway vehicles is now on display! Read on to learn more about this incredible survivor…
Ford Motor Company used Walt Disney’s Magic Skyway at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair to showcase new Fords, Lincolns, and Mercurys and there couldn’t have been a better place to introduce the famous Ford Mustang on April 17, 1964. The Fair was divided into two segments, in 1964 from April 22nd to October 18th and in 1965 from April 21st to October 17th.
Ford built a total of 24 Mustang convertibles for the Fair – 12 for each year. In preparation for the opening of the Fair in 1964 the Mustangs were the last to be placed on the Magic Skyway, primarily because the original plan did not include the Mustang; the addition of the pony car was an eleventh hour decision for Ford. When it came time to replace the first 12 Mustangs on the Skyway in the winter of 1964-65, 12 new T-code 200ci 6-cyl automatic convertibles were ordered – three of each in Caspian Blue, Poppy Red, Raven Black, and Wimbledon White. All 12 were built at the Dearborn plant and shipped to Carron & Co. for Magic Skyway preparation.
To date, only three of the second set of 12 Mustangs have been found – 5F08T383378, 5F08T383385, and this example – now on display at the Gilmore Car Museum, 5F08T383386.
Two Mustangs from the 1964 season, when Dr. King and his family visited the fair, have also surfaced. This brings the total number to date of documented World’s Fair Mustangs to five.
But what makes this particular Skyway model unique is its one-of-a-kind appointments – bench seats, AM/8-Track, Thunderbird courtesy lamps, and 1966 hubcaps. These were not Skyway originals, but options installed at Carron & Co. before the car was put in an employee for sale lot post-Fair where it was purchased on December 23, 1965 by a Ford Motor Company employee as a Christmas gift for his wife.
Twelve years later the car was found in a Detroit garage with only 35,622 miles by current owner and lender to the Museum, Gary Schweitzer and his father, Al. After sitting for an additional 30 years, a full restoration began in 2007 and was finally completed in 2015.
This 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible and Magic Skyway survivor will be on display at the Gilmore Car Museum through 2019.
Special thanks to Gary Schweitzer of Traverse City, Michigan for sharing this incredible piece of automotive history with the Gilmore Car Museum!