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Genuine Prototype Mustang That Was Henry Ford II’s Daily Driver!

Many readers will have heard of Tom Cotter, often referred to as The Barn Find Hunter. Tom spends his time scouring the country for rare and collectible cars squirreled away in barns and sheds. The latest episode of his YouTube video series features a vehicle that is not a genuine barn find but has an important place in American motoring folklore. It is securely hidden away in this garage, and the cardboard figure beside it gives some clues as to its significance.

Rolled into the light of day is a First Generation Mustang. However, this is no ordinary ‘Stang. It was hand-built in 1963 as a pre-production prototype. It was eventually handed to Henry Ford II and became his personal transport. It defied the odds because most prototypes eventually find their way to the crusher. Henry gave this car to his chauffeur, and it passed through a few hands before being discovered by the current owner in 1975. Although he was uncertain what he had bought, he took the Mustang home for a cool $500!

The design studio finished the Mustang in Raven Black with a matching vinyl top. However, that is the first of many aspects of this car that make it unique. The vinyl top is padded, an option never offered by Ford. The creators added red pinstriping, and the only variation from how it looked when presented to Mr. Ford is the wheels. Henry didn’t like those fitted by the design team, swapping them for the styled chrome wheels we see today. The original wheels spent years in storage but had disappeared by the time the significance of this classic was recognized. Another notable difference from the production Mustang is the lack of fender badges.

Another unique aspect of this Mustang reveals itself when you open the doors and trunk. The door jambs and trunk channels usually feature folded seams and spot-welds, but the builders lead-wiped those areas to create a perfectly smooth finish. In addition, all the locks and locking posts were treated to a trip to the plating plant to return in sparkling chrome.

If you’re creating a car destined for the boss, it is worth taking the time and effort to build it to the highest standard. The attention to detail continues inside this classic. Everywhere you look, there is nothing but sumptuous leather upholstery and trim. It covers the seats, door trims, dash pad, and headliner. The trim in this car is original, only receiving cleaning and conditioning over nearly six decades. The carpet on the floors isn’t as you would find in a production vehicle, with its pile being almost an inch thick. The wheel is a one-off diecast featuring a solid teak inlay. That timber continues onto the dash, console, and radio controls.

Powering this Mustang is the K-Code 289ci V8, while its creators added a four-speed manual transmission, a 9″ rear end, and power assistance for the steering and front disc brakes. The hood features sound deadening on the underside to make the car quieter and feel more civilized for “Hank the Deuce.” The vehicle remains mechanically original, with the K-Code and disc brakes well ahead of their time.

Although the current owner purchased the car in 1975, it took a few years to establish its provenance. Henry Ford II was due at a meeting in 1981, and the owner waited outside that meeting, hoping to receive confirmation from the great man. He was disappointed that Ford had skipped the meeting for a trip to Florida, but he struck up a conversation with Edsel Ford II. Edsel confirmed the car’s authenticity and slapped his autograph on the glove compartment door.

It may not be a barn find, but Tom Cotter has introduced us to an historically significant classic. I’ve only scratched the surface, and you should do yourself a favor and check out his YouTube video. It will astound you with the attention to detail and is a worthwhile way to occupy some time.


  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    As Adam says, watch the video. Very, very cool.

    Like 21
  2. angliagt angliagt

    Now there’s an interesting Mustang,with a real story.
    I got to see Edsel’s Capri that Norm Murdock (Team Blitz) now
    owns.It had metal fender flares that the guy who started ASC –
    Sunroofs did to show Henry II the quality of his work.

    Like 12
    • Matt in Flint

      “The guy who founded ASC” I believe you’re referring to Heinz Prechter

      Like 2
  3. Howard A Member

    Weeeeeelll, apparently, there is a slew of information about the car, so I don’t doubt it belonged to him. In this day and age, I don’t trust many selling ANYTHING( that $3,000 dollar bikes post still grinds my gears), and while the story probably checks out, like all these celebrity cars, big deal. I mean, it’s a REALLY nice original Mustang, but that’s it. I think it’s amazing, if this WAS a prototype, it took almost 18 months for this car to hit the streets. I never heard of Tom Cotter, but must be like Wayne Carini, only not looking for high end cars. Sorry, the Mustang then, unlike today, was for the average schmoe, pump jockies, paper, um, people, they were given as graduation gifts, can you imagine? I couldn’t care less what they are asking, if it is for sale, V8, 4 speed Mustangs aren’t rare, and if that scribbling on the dash does anything for you, by all means, cut the check. Otherwise, for most here, just go find a 1st gen V8 Mustang, for an Nth of what I’m sure they want. It will collect dust for a fraction of the investment.

    Like 13
    • Mikefromthehammer

      Read the story.

      The car is not for sale.

      It is only a story about the (unique) car and not an ad.

      Like 63
    • Big C

      Relax. Tom is the farthest thing from Carini. He enjoys presenting interesting vehicles. That may, or may not, be for sale. That’s all.

      Like 41
    • Bamapoppy

      Don’t hold back-tell us what you REALLY think about this car.

      Like 14
    • Steve

      Howard, don’t let the grumpy Gus comments get you down. I always look forward to your comments and have learned a wealth of information from them.

      Like 6
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Howard my friend, please check out Tom Cotton’s YouTube videos about his travels all over America [and a few in Europe/UK as well] looking at truly fascinating car collections. From guys with multiple old cars rusting away outside that are not worth the cost of taking them to the scrapyard, to multi-million Dollar private car collections that will take your breath away! Tom has that “Aw shucks” demeanor that makes people want to open their garage or shed doors to a stranger with a camera.

      About 20 years ago the American Picker’s film crew* asked about coming to visit my farm and look thru my warehouse and barns, but I told them no. Had Tom Cottom come to visit, I would have welcomed him to look at my collection, and probably taken him to dinner after he was finished!

      *Nothing against American Pickers, but back then I was selling very well on feeBay and getting top Dollar because my stuff was rare and in demand, so I wasn’t interested in selling vintage toys and cars at wholesale prices. And I didn’t like the idea of the general public knowing what I had hidden away!

      Like 21
    • Bolivar Shagnasty

      Did you not take your happy pill today Howard? You sound like a disgustingly unhappy old fart.

      Like 15
    • $ where mouth is

      Welll, H.A. aaagain !?,
      under some delusion that he’s a writer for this site or that his consistently ill spewed opinions and short sighted assessments are something we’re all just idling to read.
      Seriously man, what’s wrong with you ?
      You had to bring the bikes up ?!?
      Did you not get enough scoffing at that post ?
      Please, clean it up !

      This car, is ANOTHER amazing find from Barn Finds, might be one of THE most amazing cars ever, a triple black prototype, hand made, H.Ford owned and driven !! just might be THE most significant American car ever;
      It’s epic !
      Thank you Adam C.

      Like 27
      • Steve RM

        I just quit reading his posts.

        Like 2
      • MGSteve

        Steve RM . . . Gee, and I thought I was the only one.

        Like 2
    • Joe

      Another useless post from Howie.

      Like 4
      • Mike G.

        AMEN,. Joe. More Howard bloviation (sigh!)

        Like 5
    • Mountainwoodie


      Its not all that bad HoA :). Tom Cotter has been bouncing around with his own show for some time. I think you’d like his low key take ( read sometimes skeptical) on the cars he features. Though this is not one of them.

      It’s a very pretty Mustang and not having a slushbox means everything to this gear grinder. Yes, it’s not the pyramids of Giza but within the very weird hobby of cars we once drove everyday bringing ridiculous amounts of money by who knows, it’s a one off.

      Your point is well taken though.If you want a first gen Mustang, go buy one…..for a lot less. But…you’re not going to get a padded roof ::)

      Like 0
  4. Will Fox

    Of the NON-Shelby first gen. Mustangs (`64.5-`66), this one rates at the top in notoriety! The only Stang that comes close is production #1, which was a white cvt. with black vinyl interior. I think that car got sold back to Fo.Mo.Co.

    Like 14
    • Tony

      Yes, Number 1 is at the Henry Ford Museum.

      Like 14
      • Mikefromthehammer

        It was sold in error to a purchaser from Newfoundland.

        Like 7
  5. CraigR

    I’d drop a big block in it.


    Like 3

    Wow, what a story! The fact that this Mustang was almost entirely hand made makes it the equal to any high-end custom show car you could find at the most prestigious car shows in the world, it was done that well. The door jams and posts are a work of art in and of themselves! The padded vinyl top is another beautiful touch that most people wouldn’t even pick up on, and the leather interior and trim look like something out of an exotic European classic. I hope the current owner keeps it forever and passes it down from generation to generation, and hopefully each successive generation continues to care for and maintain it in its current perfect condition. Some day, we might see it at a concourse de’legance alongside much more expensive cars. Mustangs have always been my first love as far as cars are concerned. If I owned this one, I’d rub it with a baby diaper every day and tell it how special it is in a soft whisper.

    Like 34
  7. CCFisher

    That’s not a vinyl roof – it’s leather.

    Like 2
    • Mark

      Read the story, it is vinyl but it’s padded vinyl! It’s not leather!

      Like 8
  8. Sam61

    Very interesting video…hard to believe it had rotted away. Hat’s off to the owner for bringing it back. Great example, even though it was pre-production and for Mr. Ford, of what a few tasteful modifications can do to class up a base Mustang.

    Like 13
  9. Lukin R.

    Stumbled upon BarnfindHunter a year, maybe two years ago, subscribed to the channel after third video.

    Like 3
  10. Comet

    Once again Howard, “thanks” for your unfiltered opinion.

    Like 9
  11. John

    With the exception of the padded top, this is a gem. B/J would rack up a new record for Mustangs if it ever went across the auction block. In my opinion as an expert on almost everything, I would suggest that they’d get more without the padded top. I’d offer my entire fortune as the first bid — then when the laughing stopped, it would sell for significantly more. Beautiful car – thanks.

    Like 4
    • Mark

      The padded top is part of the original car taking it off would ruin the value of the car! Maybe even get it down to the point that you could afford it! LOL

      Like 6
      • John

        Better leave it alone. Even if I could afford it, I’d never be able to deserve it. I’m just glad to know it’s there.

        Like 4
  12. terra nova

    This is a special car. The dude throwing shade as just another “celebrity car,” has no clue. No way do you find another one with this level of detail, fit and finish, from the factory. Watch the video. This is “one of one” when it comes to provenance and preservation and build. If it ever comes up for sale (and it probably will at some point in the next decade or two), it is going to command a major money from some Mustang collector. Great post Barn Finds.

    Like 15
  13. Richard

    Awesome. Not a mustang guy but that’s a genuine piece of automotive history tracing back to American royalty. Seriously impressed with this one!

    Like 4
  14. Peter Barnett

    Hi I had the privilege of meeting Tom and his team when he came to England.
    It was his first visit and he was a great guy and so were the members of his team.
    Happy memory

    Like 3
  15. Maestro1 Member

    It’s always good to hear from Howard, cranky or not; he’s entitled to his opinion.
    I’m not a Mustang freak but I am on the Left Coast where there are some really beautifully restored ones being driven on what looks to me as daily
    rounds for someone. It’s a pleasure to see.
    I know about Tom Cotter, and follow him when I can. If you are a car nut
    or just fascinated with what’s out there, watch him on You Tube.
    Happy Holidays everyone.

    Like 7
  16. John D

    What a great video, I’m a mustang guy from my childhood had no idea this car existed. Consider 1963 the attention to detail on this car is amazing, even a leather headliner. This car was very tastefully built, of course seeing as they built it for Henry it would have to be. Thanks for sharing this on Barn Finds!

    Like 2
  17. douglas hunt

    Nice car….just seeing that shifter makes me want an early Mustang 4 speed car….mine does not need to be owned by anyone famous…….

    Like 2
  18. Tony

    Mustang Monthly did an article on this car back in the early 80s. Glad it’s still around

    Like 1
  19. Bob McK

    Thanks for sharing. The video was amazing. So nice that this special car belongs to the right person.

    Like 1

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