We humans have an odd tendency to collect things: coins, stamps, shot glasses… When we find some object that appeals to us, we seem to want to multiply the joy it brings by finding more of that thing, and in whatever variations may exist. Chasing down those variations often becomes the continuing challenge that makes the collecting exciting — the thrill of the hunt and the conquest of capture.
Following that logic, if desirable items that bring joy and that come in many variations are the basis for a fulfilling collection, cars are a natural focus, and car collecting has been going on since the time the earliest automobiles were deemed “classics,” once they’d become old enough to be somewhat scarce. Traditionally, that has meant at least a few decades beyond manufacture, but a shift seemed to occur in the early 1980s as the muscle cars of the ’60s and early ’70s started to become sought by enthusiasts. In most cases, the favored models weren’t even 20 years old yet, but a couple things happened to hasten the movement: The muscle car era ended rather abruptly in the early ’70s, and the original buyers of those cars started to feel the tug of nostalgia.
We’ve been celebrating those same cars ever since, but what about the second coming of Detroit’s performance wars? That next wave of factory-built hot rods began right around the time the earlier muscle cars first began to climb in value thanks to enthusiast interest. Shouldn’t those later models have followed suit?
1992 SAAC MK1
The 1992 SAAC Mk 1 was a special edition produced to honor the efforts of Carroll Shelby during his Ford period while also yielding a Mustang that outperformed standard 5.0 models. Only 62 were produced, and this one has just 13 miles.
“A good friend is into ’40 Fords; he used to make fun of these cars,” Dave W. says, standing in the building that houses his gathering of Mustangs from Ford’s Fox era. That sort of sentiment was not unusual from traditional auto enthusiasts, who still tend to view cars of the ’80s as “late models” that don’t warrant collector interest. Perspective plays a role — some people may not recognize that an ’83 Mustang is about to turn 40. To others, these cars were produced in numbers too great to be considered “rare.” But to Dave, there’s a vast performance history to highlight from this period of Ford’s past. Plus, a whole new generation of fans are now getting nostalgic.
“I have such fond memories of these cars — that’s a big part of their appeal,” he explains, but we couldn’t help but wonder why a Mustang fan had nothing from the model’s earliest days. “I’m not as into the early cars because I didn’t grow up with them; I grew up with the Fox cars — those were the years I followed them.”
Dave started out on the path to the Blue Oval camp early. “My grandfather worked for Ford and took me to the Metuchen [New Jersey] plant a few times when I was young. They weren’t building Mustangs anymore — it was Ranger trucks then — but the Ford influence set in.” Like so many car-crazed kids, Dave saved up his money and was able to buy a 1985 Mustang GT in 1987, citing reasons beyond the Dearborn connection. “The 5-liters were accessible and affordable; the IROCs and Trans Ams seemed expensive.
From there, the hook was set. He bought an ’89 Mustang LX 5.0 later, but when he started a business, the fun cars had to go for a while. Once the business grew, he was able to get back into it. “At first, I focused on ’85s and ’86s, since those were the cars I got started with,” Dave says, but it was just the spark for what he would soon pursue. When a friend and fellow Mustang enthusiast showed him some of the extremely low-mileage examples of the same-era cars, Dave was fascinated by their “Day One” time-capsule quality. It changed the course of his own collecting.
“Then I said, I really want to have a great collection of the best cars of this era. I want people to be able to see what they were like when they were brand new. I often call these ‘no-mileage’ cars, because a ‘low-mileage’ car can have 15-20,000 miles in most people’s view. The cars I am interested in usually have less than 100.”
The precedent established by muscle car collecting helped to create some real gems among the cars that came later — enthusiasts were more aware of the collector appeal of examples that were hardly used, as opposed to those that had been restored to that state. But many of the cars now in Dave’s collection take the “it’s only original once” mantra to the extreme, presenting not simply as they might have been in the showroom, but as they were rolling off the transport truck. An early addition to this gathering exemplifies this and came from Dave’s friend — the one who’d first piqued his interest in essentially untouched cars.
“The ’90 LX notchback is one my friend bought years ago from a Ford dealer’s personal collection. The car had never been prepped and was still on MSO [Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin]. It was in their warehouse, and when the dealer finally decided to part with it, my friend got it — there are still only around 81 miles on it now,” Dave explains. Looking at this specimen will trigger a memory jog for anyone who ever paid attention to Fox Mustangs when they were new. The details of the factory paint surface quality, the single narrow pinstripe, the finish on the “10-hole” wheels, which have never had their center caps installed. It really is a trip, particularly on a model that was not typically saved on speculation of future value — these cars were bought to be driven, yet this one still has the factory crayon markings in the windows.