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Watch 'The Million Dollar Mustang' part one: Shelby GT350 R

Thu, 24 Apr 2014

“The Million Dollar Mustang” is not about how much these great cars go for at auctions in today's heady times, but about what made them worth so much in the first place.

Nearly five years in the making, the documentary starts out talking about the Ford Mustang in general, how they sold 22,000 of them on the first sales day and then sold a million of them in the first two years and things like that -- the notion that the Mustang was a revolution in American car design and in the American consciousness. Then it starts to narrow its focus more and pretty soon the bulk of the piece is all about the Shelby GT350 R. This is a good place for it to go because that car, made by Carroll Shelby and his team of motorsports greats, took the Falcon-based economy car and made it corner and brake just as well as it accelerated, for the most part. Once it gets set on that particular Shelby, the film really goes to town.

It is full of historical 16mm racing footage, a lot of which you have never seen. There are 31 interviews taped all over the U.S. and Europe. You'll get reacquainted with familiar faces like Ken Miles, Mark Donahue, Dan Gurney and Jerry Titus, each of whom had various Mustang connections. You'll see interviews of Carroll Shelby you've never seen before, featuring the old Snakemeister himself spouting Shelbyisms that endeared him to a generation, “Ahh towld Lee (Iacocca) ya' cain't make a racehorse out of a mule.” You'll meet racers, technicians, dealers and parts managers who know the Mustang like no one else ever will. Some of the subjects have since passed away, leaving this as their legacy. Others are still with us. You see them 50 years ago and then you see them today. It's quite a sense of history.

You'll hear from Tom Yeager, the first GT350 R road racing owner/driver, Mustang test driver Ken Miles, factory-backed Sports Car magazine editor Jerry Titus, Stirling Moss and privateer novice Mark Donohue, who makes his earliest Ford racing cameo movie appearance with his very first racing team. You'll meet drag racers from Tasca and Harr Ford dealerships in New England. Competitors Parnelli Jones, Bob Johnson, Chuck Cantwell and Lew Spencer are all there. See the young Lee Iaccoca, Peter Brock, Ford Mustang project manager Hal Sperlich, Dan Gurney and Mr.-Fix-It Phil Remington. All of them portray what the film calls, “Our American automotive genius.”

The only drawback is that the whole thing starts with an interview of yours truly, your humble author, yapping on and on about how the Mustang, the iconic pony car of all pony cars, rescued us from 1950s conformity and launched us into the 1960s counterculture. If you can get over that, the rest is smooth sailing.

Look for the first of nine episodes here, then watch about every month and a half after that for a new installment. All viewing is free. The only thing that could potentially change it all is if the producers made some kind of last-minute TV deal for the series, which might or might not happen. But for now, it's all free and all Mustang, all the time.

By Mark Vaughn