Former Disney Ride: 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible

During my time with Barn Finds, I’ve had the opportunity to write about some rare and interesting vehicles. While this 1965 Mustang Convertible may not initially seem rare, its story is undeniably unusual. It is a car that has managed to travel only 35,500 miles in distance but millions of years in time. Before you conclude that Adam has lost the plot, it’s worth recounting this classic’s history and deciding whether you might consider letting it into your life. Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, you will find the Mustang listed for sale here at Mecum Auctions. It is scheduled to go under the hammer with No Reserve on May 21st with an auction estimate of $100,000 – $150,000.

Hidden in the Ford Archive is this artist’s impression that helps provide an insight into this Mustang’s history. The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair generated enormous excitement, attracting visitors from across the globe. They were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime array of foods and experiences. One of the more notable was a collaboration between the Disney Corporation and Ford called the Disney Magic Skyway. Visitors climbed aboard an array of Ford convertibles, including Lincolns, Galaxies, and Mustangs. The cars were guided along a set of tracks that took occupants on a journey through time from the era of the dinosaurs to a city of the future. It featured extensive use of animatronics and was one of the most popular attractions during the Fair. As you can see from this YouTube video, the Magic Skyway was groundbreaking, and the new technologies unveiled would eventually see service in the movie industry for many decades. A total of twenty-three Mustangs saw service during the Fair. After rolling off the production line as Special Order vehicles, each Mustang was delivered to the company’s Show Car Preparation Division for detail work. The Mustangs made their next journey to external contractors Carron & Company for further modifications. The process included locking the suspension and attaching brackets to allow the vehicles to “mate” with the Skyway’s propulsion system. Since the Skyway provided the power to propel these cars, their drivetrains saw no use during their active service. Once they’d completed their tour of duty, each Mustang returned to Carron & Company for decommissioning. The contractors removed the hardware required for the Skyway tour. Interiors would have seen many thousands of occupants, so an interior retrim was part of the work needed to return the cars to a presentable state. They replaced any damaged panels and applied a fresh coat of paint. Ford then disposed of the Mustangs through their Dearborn resale facility. Eleven Mustangs made this journey in 1965, but only three are known to exist today.

This Mustang rolled off Ford’s production line wearing Wimbledon White paint with a Black power top. It presents exceptionally well, but its known history means that the paint isn’t original. The current owner purchased it in 1978, proceeding to treat it to another refresh. It retains its original front bumper, sheetmetal (including the floors and trunk pan), quarter panels, hood, trunk lid, and glass. Any replacement components are Ford NOS items, helping to retain as much of the car’s originality as possible. It presents well for an older restoration, with no significant flaws or defects. The paint shines well, the power top looks tight and free from rips, and the chrome sparkles impressively. It has no immediate needs and should turn nearly as many heads today as it did at the World’s Fair.

It is estimated that this Mustang saw 40,000 occupants during its stint on the Magic Skyway, so it is little wonder that it was a candidate for a retrim when its active service ended. The contractor completed this work in the car’s original Red vinyl before the Mustang entered private ownership. The process included adding a 1966 bench seat and radio/-8-track player for a splash of luxury. From there, things become slightly muddy. The current owner purchased the car in 1978, and it isn’t clear whether their restoration work included any interior refreshment. The carpet looks spotless, suggesting that it is one item they may have replaced. The rest of the interior presents superbly, with no evidence of wear or physical damage. I’m not sure whether I’m prepared to describe it as perfect, but it can’t be far off the mark.

Potential buyers may be disappointed by what we find when we lift this Mustang’s hood. Occupying the space is a numbers-matching 200ci six-cylinder engine producing 120hp. A three-speed C4 automatic transmission sends the power to the rear wheels and allows the Convertible to cover the ¼ mile in 19.4 seconds. Many readers would have hoped to find a V8 in the engine bay, but the six made sense on several fronts. If Ford had selected the 289ci V8, the car would have tipped the scales a cool 300lbs heavier than the six. In isolation, that may seem insignificant, but a “big picture” view is needed. There were eleven Mustangs on the Skyway attraction, along with Galaxies and Lincolns. If the Mustangs had all featured V8s, that would have added a cool 3,300lbs to the load the Skyway’s propulsion mechanism needed to move. That would have placed additional wear and strain on the system, reducing reliability. It’s also worth considering that demand for the Mustang was outstripping supply. This was especially true of the V8 offerings, so utilizing the less popular six didn’t impact potential sale stock. The owner indicates that this Mustang has 35,500 genuine miles on the clock, which raises an interesting point. We know that these vehicles didn’t move under their own power on the Skyway, but it is unclear whether Ford replaced their odometers before listing them for sale. That means that part of the odometer reading could include the estimated 5,000 miles accumulated traveling back in time. It isn’t clear whether the car sees active service, but the documentation confirming its history is included.

Records show that during the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, twenty-three Mustang Convertibles saw service on Disney’s Magic Skyway exhibit. Of those, twelve made the fascinating journey through 1964, while a further eleven took their place in 1965. This car is from that second year and is 1-of-3 known to have survived. The condition of the other two is unclear, while the remaining vehicles have been lost into the mists of time. That raises the question of this classic’s history and whether it adds significantly to the vehicle’s potential value. That is almost impossible to determine, but its owner and the auctioneers seem to think so. With what you know of this Convertible’s history, would you be tempted to join the bidding war? If it doesn’t capture the buying public’s imagination, the lack of a reserve could result in a sale price that is a relative bargain. It may not have quite the charisma of Doc Brown’s DeLorean out of Back To The Future, but it could be argued that this 1965 Mustang Convertible is a genuine time machine.

Comments

  1. Todd J. Member

    Nice write-up, Adam. I attended the Fair and rode the Magic Skyway, but I thought the GM Futurama exhibit was more entertaining, even though people were whisked along in rows of seats and not in actual cars. Personally, I wouldn’t pay a premium to own this Mustang just for its connection to the Magic Skyway, but, as nutty as it seems to me, I’m sure some diehard Disney or World’s Fair fan will shell out crazy money to score it.

    Like 12
  2. Cadmanls Member

    Have to agree with Todd, some person will want that car for it’s connection. I don’t know the numbers on just how many were built like this but I would be willing to bet quite a few, minus the bench seat. I remember that slogan or jingle about sweet six cylinder Mustangs. The six attracted many women to own a Mustang. Sharp looking car, Ford had a winner with the long hood and short decklid.

    Like 6
  3. Winfield Wilson

    6-volt battery?! When I was ten years old, my father bought a new 1966 Mustang coupe-candy apple red, 6 cyl, 3 speed trans. He kept it for 4 years, and my older sister and I both learned to drive on it.

    Like 3
    • Rick

      It looks like the battery has been turned 90 degrees, ’cause I think they used to sit back to front, not side to side. But you’re right, it does look like a six volt, at least from the angle in the photo.

      Like 1
      • David

        If you zoom in you can see five of the the six caps on the battery. It’s definitely a 12V

  4. gbvette62

    I doubt the inclusion of the 6 cylinder had anything to do with saving 300 pounds. I don’t know how many cars the ride utilized, but it was quite a few, and the vast majority of them from what I remember were the heavier Galaxie’s. If they were worrying about weight, they could have left the engines out. I’m surprised to learn they had engines, I always assumed they were empty shells, with no driveline.

    More likely it was a budget consideration. It was well known that Ford was not happy with what the ride cost, to the point that Henry II complained publicly on opening day about the cost, to Walt Disney. Also these cars were just props, and there was no need to add options or parts that weren’t going to be needed for the ride.

    As a freshman in high school, my best friend was a junior who had a 6 cylinder 3 speed, 65 Mustang hardtop. We met in art class, but we became friends when he learned I was restoring a 1914 Model T. I have some great memories of that Mustang, like weekends at Langhorne Speedway, sitting on it’s hood in the infield, watching the modifieds race.

    Like 2
  5. Jim

    I went to the fair and saw the cars, but I did not ride in one. This article cleared up a few things for me. I understand why they would put a bench seat in these as they needed each car to carry 6 people. Did they get converted back to buckets? Do you know?. I learned, at a later date, that the way to tell a 6 volt from a 12 volt was to look at the number of caps on the battery. Three caps on the battery meant 6 volts and 6 caps meant 12 volts. A friend of mine in College had a coupe ’66 (I think) and it had a 289 V8. My mother’s 1969 Malibu with a 302 two-speed Automatic was blown away by the Mustang. The Malibu was fast of the line (for about 50 ft)

  6. Daral

    It is a 12 volt, you are only seein half the battery, the other post isn’t even in the picture. It would be if it was 6 volt🤪

    Like 1
  7. Fran

    Probably the most gender neutral Mustang ever.

    Like 4
  8. wao

    Correct me if I’m wrong … appear to be 1966 spinners, counter sunk emblem.

    Like 1
    • 3Deuces

      Those are indeed ‘66 wheel covers. IMHO, they look better than the original equipment, but don’t make this beauty 100% correct.

  9. Tort Member

    The first Mustang that arrived at the Ford dealership of a town of approximately 8k my girlfriend’s father bought it after only one day in the showroom. He hadn’t owned it a week when he handed me the keys and told me to be careful with my daughter and the car. White with a tan interior, six cylinder with a 3 speed on the floor and the only Mustang in town and me being sixteen with my sweet girl friend cruising around town now 53 years ago I remember.like it was yesterday.

    Like 5
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      Nice story Tort. A simple (but perhaps daring?) gesture by your girlfriend’s father still brings a smile to your face these many years later.

      Like 1
  10. Dave Sawdey

    I’m not going to be an armchair car show judge,and pick this car apart. It’s an absolute beautiful car. What a stunner!!!!

    Like 3
  11. David R Member

    Pedo Island + Disney = Fake News

    Like 3
  12. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    The first time I rode the Magic Skyway, I was forced to sit in the back of a white Mustang like this one, perhaps it was this very car, but I’ll never know for sure. [So for that reason I’m not going to bid on it!]

    When I say “forced” to ride in the Mustang it was because I really wanted to wait for the next car in the moving line of Ford products: A blue Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible, and I had my sights set on getting behind the steering wheel of the Lincoln. But at the last moment, my mother insisted I ride with them in the Mustang’s back seat. That’s not what a 12 year old boy wants to hear!

    Late that same day, after it had rained a lot and the crowds were gone, I did talk my parents into going along again, and we did get to ride in a white Lincoln 4-door convertible, with me at the wheel!

    Like 6
  13. Fran

    Yes when some express an opinion. It’s shut up. Move on. Don’t worry we will if the machines are not working.

    There no politics no profanity and no personal attacks.

    Grim up!

  14. DON

    There is a black Mustang from the Worlds Fair with documented history that car still has the remains of the mounting brackets that held the car to the Skyway. Apparently they just took a torch and cut the brackets off when the fair ended .
    Mustang lovers want these cars, not so much for the Fair provenance, but the fact that it will be a very low build # .The Fair thing just adds to its history

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