Part One: Charlotte Welcomes Mustang 50th Birthday

Mustang 50 Celebration in Charlotte - Day 2

There is no more iconic car from the USA than the Ford Mustang. From Carroll Shelby to Steve McQueen, the Mustang is as huge a part of American culture as it is automotive history. Ford celebrated the car’s 50th birthday with a huge celebration in Charlotte.

As the 50th anniversary of Ford’s sports car for the everyman arrives, Mustang lovers and automotive history buffs gathered in North Carolina and the Charlotte International Motor Speedway for a special birthday celebration

Mustang lovers from across the United States and around the world found themselves on the NASCAR track’s sprawling infield, while owners of classic versions of the worshipped Ford brought their cars for display.

Distinguished Horses on Parade

Much of the event centered on the 50th anniversary display at the Nationwide Insurance Classic Car Showcase Pavilion. Organizers filled their tent with five generations of Mustangs, including the 1965 GT 350, a 1967 coupe in “Playboy Pink,” 1969 Boss 429, 1978 Mustang II Ghia, 1982 GT, 1996 Cobra and a 2013 Boss 302 Laguna Seca.

Other “special guests” included the 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby Mustang GT500KR. Fully documented, the car featured a numbers-matched drive train and was one of the event’s prime examples of muscle cars purity.

Related: Mustang 50th Anniversary Rolls to Vegas

The 1970 Ford SCCA 302 Mustang comes out of that same late 60s/early 70s golden age Mustang muscle car brutality. The original Boss 302 was commissioned by Ford and built by Kar Kraft “to help buyers better understand how to modify their own Boss 302.”

Charlotte’s own RK Motors brought along the 1970 King Cobra. One of only two factory prototypes built, the car features an experimental front end reshaped for NASCAR.

50thMustang-Charlotte_04To the event organizers’ credit, the cars on display were not trapped in some glass boxes or roped off away from the milling crowds. Visitors had every chance to interact with them and enjoy plenty of photo opps. The “Please do not touch…” signs were plentiful, all were observed with appropriate reverence by all in attendance.

Shopping, Trading, Loving

Besides a seemingly endless array of classic and ticked out Mustangs from throughout the car’s half a century history, the Charlotte celebration was a chance for car lovers to indulge their overall love for automobiles beyond just a single pony. A complete vendor’s area’s offers up plenty of second market parts and customization accessories. Those enhancement possibilities reach past only Mustangs, offering a retail collection for all car lovers and amateur mechanics.

For those car owners who were short on cash, an open swap meet took place on the event’s penultimate day where drivers could haggle over extra parts and other items that might be hard to find in a store or online – but somehow always seem to survive in garages around the world.

A series of lectures and presentations by special spokespeople took place whenever the track wasn’t scheduled to be filled with the roar of angry exhaust. Some were special offering direct from Ford, while others were expert commentaries on car history or customization options.

The Charlotte event included a traditional track day on which Mustang owners could test their cars at speed on a professional raceway. While the Charlotte track is a traditional oval for stock car racing, event organizers rearranged the track layout – running a chicane-filled extension through the raceway’s infield and using a remaining 2/3’s of the oval for straightaways.

Check back in tomorrow for the conclusion of our Charlotte Mustang celebration.