‘Ford Magic’ and a little surprise in Mustang’s restoration

PARK RIDGE, Ill. --  There's always a story behind an old set of wheels but few are quite as good as this.

The year was 1964 and Gail Wise was a new Chicago school teacher looking for a car to get to work. She stopped in Johnson Ford Dealership along Cicero and was taken with the new arrival: A baby blue Ford Mustang convertible.

Even though the salesman told her he couldn't sell it until the sporty car had its national debut, he ended up handing over the keys that same night.

The car served Gail and her husband Tom well over the years and was on the road for nearly two decades before it finally gave out.

"Tom pushed it in the garage and said he'd fix it the next week,” Gail Wise said. “It sat there for 27 years.”

By 2006, the car was a rusted mess.

But Tom Wise made good on that promise to fix it and fully restored the Mustang back to her original glory.

By chance, he came across an article about a guy who claimed he had the first retail sale of a Mustang one day before it debuted on April
16th 1964.

"I told Gail to look at our papers and sure enough, ours was purchased April 15th,” Tom Wise said. “So we beat him by one day.”

That one day made their Mustang iconic and increased the value between $350,000 -$450,000.

Suddenly the quiet Park Ridge retirees were the darlings of the classic auto world.  The got VIP invites to showcase their car at the Chicago Auto Show, the Indy 500 Racetrack and honorees at the Woodward Dream Cruise.

"I even got to meet the president of Ford, Jim Hackett!,” Gail Wise said.

Their new celebrity status and car show schedule left their grown kids a little shell shocked. But not Tom Wise who says he always knew the car was something special.

"They say there goes that old guy driving that Mustang.  And I'm still grinning ear to ear."