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USA:Ford, Mustang devotees celebrate pony car's 40th

Industry festivities attract hundreds

By Karen Bouffard / The Detroit News

Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News
Hundreds of Mustang fanatics turned out to see some 50 classic models of the pony car which became a pop icon with the baby boomer generation.

Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News
More than 6.7 million Mustangs have been built at the Dearborn plant since 1964.

DEARBORN — A stampede of Mustangs converged on Ford World Headquarters on Thursday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the legendary pony car that marked a Metro Detroit auto industry zenith and became a pop icon for baby boomers everywhere.

Mustang fanatics turned out by the hundreds to greet The Great American Pony Drive II, a cross-country cavalcade of some 50 classics, and listen to singer/composer Sir Mack Rice belt out “Mustang Sally” — his 1965 smash hit that practically became a Motor City anthem.

Dan Stolarczyk of White Lake brought along the sparkling cabernet red ‘68 Mustang he converted from a pile of rust — the fourth in a succession of Mustangs he has owned. But the sight of all those pony cars brought back fond memories of his his first model.

“I loved that car; it was a great car,” said Stolarczyk, 52, of his first Mustang , a black-on-black ‘67 fastback four-speed that he bought when he was 21.

“When I crashed that car, I bought another one just like — it was turquoise-on-turquoise, but when I got done with it, it was black-on-black,” Stolarczyk said. “It took a lot of work, but it was worth it.”

Ford workers celebrated May 10 as the last vehicle to be built at the Dearborn Assembly Plant rolled off the line — a crimson 2004 Mustang GT convertible.

More than 6.7 million of the cars have been built at the Dearborn plant since the Mustang’s introduction in 1964. The newly retooled 2005 Mustang will be produced at a plant in Flat Rock that Ford operates with Japanese partner Mazda Motor Corp.

The car has outlived an onslaught of rivals, including the Chevy Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Plymouth Barracuda and the Dodge Challenger. Even American Motors Corp. produced a competitor: the Javelin.

And it’s attracted hundreds of thousands of die-hard fans worldwide, including the ones in Mustang-logo jackets and caps who swapped stories with other fanatics Thursday.

“I’ve had Mustangs since 1971,” said John Gervasi, 51, of Trenton, whose ’71 grabber blue convertible was parked next to a Rangoon red ’65 convertible owned by his father, Bruno Gervasi, 80. A performance red ’88 GT owned by grandson Bruno Gervasi, 17, was parked next to that. He worked an entire summer as a janitor to buy the car.

All three of the Gervasis are members of the Mustang Club of Southeast Michigan, which had about 60 members at the event.

“When you see a Mustang you can’t mistake them for anything on the road —it’s just distinctive styling,” John Gervasi said.

Dan Whisler, 55, of Woodhaven said his pristine ’66 candy apple red convertible was a wreck when he bought it. He straightened out the body, painted and upholstered it himself and even rebuilt the engine.

“Camaros came and went, Firebirds, Trans Ams ...,” Whisler said, “but the Mustang is still here.”

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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