Why I Didn't Buy a 1964 Mustang in 1964 +VIDEO


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
A Babe and a 1964 Mustang

(Originally published April 2009)


By Bob Gordon, Co-publisher
The Auto Channel

All of the stories about the Mustang's 45th Birthday made me reflect on my Mustang experiences.

It was time to buy a new car…Fall 1964 and I have choices, choices, choices, well here I was, a successful seasoned experienced truck salesman, I was now taking a $200 a week draw against commission selling International Trucks for Belding Motors on Merrick Road in Lynbrook, NY…my boss was Carl Abendroth the nicest guy who ever lived…the guy who gave a 21 year old the opportunity he needed to prove himself and start up the ladder of life…

I never thought that I would be selling trucks, although I was a good salesman (I guess it’s in the genes) even at that tender age.

Before Belding Motors I was working at a lumber yard and driving the lumber yard trucks while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life...when I needed help in this endeavor. I went to the New York State Department of Employment in Jamaica NY and the counselor asked if I ever thought about selling trucks…selling trucks? hmmm pretty cool I thought but what did I know about trucks…but I was desperate and eager so I made an appointment to go to Lynbrook and see what the story was on this esoteric occupation.

What heady times; my brand new wife was pregnant… the bank account was empty and I was driving a lumber truck for the minimum wage of $1.25 per hour plus tips so I was bringing home a whopping $75-$100 bucks a week…and my, soon to stop working, wife made about $90 a week as a secretary in the broadcast business, so things almost worked out…and remember it was 1961…pizza was 15 cents a slice, rent $200 bucks a month a small coke was 10 cents and a large 15 cents, White Castle Sliders were 14 cents…babysitters made 25 cents an hour gasoline was 19 cents a gallon (including a gift and a check under the hood and tire pressure check and adjustment) so almost $200 bucks a week almost worked out.

Ok Ok back to the Mustang I didn’t buy…

Well with the pregnant wife I realized that my car a 1959 Austin Healy Sprite would just not cut it as a family car, although I really loved it …in fact many years later when I had a few bucks in my account and was getting that mid-life “gotta get a sports car” crisis, I went to buy another Bug-Eye…it was affordable, it was beautiful, it was in great condition… but there was one major problem…over the passing years I had gained a few (?) pounds and couldn’t fit into the drivers seat…oh well…

Ok Ok back to the Mustang I didn’t buy…

In those years truck selling was a little different than it is today (maybe)…each morning I took a new IH Pick-up or IH Scout or IH Travelall around to my calls and tried to get the potential buyer to leave his desk for a few minutes to see and hopefully drive and then buy the truck I had brought that day…

In making my rounds I passed lots of car dealers. During the first few months I noticed the Junkers (Like 1959 Chevrolet Biscayne’s, Studebaker Larks, Ford Falcons, Nash Ramblers, and other now iconic vehicles in the back on the dealers lots…in those days a car with 50,000 miles on it was ready for the scrap heap…but not so fast I thought…these soon to be “collector cars” taken in trade on new models were waiting for the junk yard to come pick them up but still had some life left in them…they were worth $15 bucks to as a trade-in to the former owner and $15 bucks to the junk yard, and as they say necessity is the mother of invention…and I had a real necessity…no money and needed a bigger car for the on its way family…

I had an idea …after a few months use out of these vehicles, I could take them to the junkyard or back to a dealer they were still worth $15 bucks, and this way I would have the use of cars for practically nothing …and as soon as they needed any repairs or parts that would cost more than a buck they were history…and I then traded out the really junk one for a another two or three month junker …what a deal…

Ok Ok back to the Mustang I didn’t buy…

The plethora of Junkers worked well for almost three years three years of no cost cardom…wow was I smart…by now my three year old son Mark became my buddy, we went everywhere together riding around Long Island in Iconic Junkers…smoking…rusting…but serviceable…

Those were the days before seatbelts and before rust proofing…it was a time when the American manufacturers had no competition, so a 50,000 mile rusted through vehicle was the norm and not the exception…and that’s when I got the scare of my young life and learned a lesson, not to take chances with those you love or are responsible for...even if it does save money.

One afternoon as Mark and I were “on the road”, Mark as usual standing (remember no seat belts) on the floor in the back of the car and then after a few minutes he gleefully screamed as children do when they are excited, that he could “see the road”…very good I said…he shouted it again…and again…hmmm I finally asked him where he is “seeing the road”…down here he pointed...the floorboards on both sides of the drive-shaft hump had rusted away and there was nothing between Mark and the road which was going by at 40 mph except the hands of an Angel keeping him balanced above the road on the drive-shaft tunnel...

Ok Ok back to the Mustang I didn’t buy…

That afternoon I was determined to wean myself off of the freebies and into a vehicle that would serve as both my family car and my Sprite replacement…what to buy? what to buy?...being the $200 buck a week big man on campus I had a budget of $2500 bucks…

I could buy almost anything, and the big buzz was the new Mustang at just under $2400 for the coupe…6 cylinder; Manual; AM Radio; Heater…all of the conveniences…but alas it had only two doors and by this time my not so new wife was expecting again…so 4 doors it had to be…so I bought a 1964 Volvo a 124 model which I used for many years until it rusted away and I sold it for $15 bucks to a friend of mine to use as a “to the train station and back” car…so I never bought the Mustang…but did get the car bug and 22 years later created The Auto Channel with my partner and friend Marc Rauch ain't life grand!

Author's Note: Let me know what old man or old woman memories you have had the the mustang...the racier the better; bgordon@theautochannel.com

A Reader gives TACH his reason for not buying a 1964 Mustang in 1964:
I didn't Buy a 1964 Cause I was 14, and the dealer wouldn't take my bike in trade! Too bad we say....

Someone who did.





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