Rare Mustang, first sold in Yukon, going up for auction in the U.S.

Rare Mustang, first sold in Yukon, going up for auction in the U.S.

It's a classic car that could fetch more than $500,000 US at an auction in Indianapolis later this spring.

And the 1965 Mustang, said by Ford to be the first of its kind ever to roll off the assembly line, has an unlikely connection to Whitehorse, Yukon — that's where the car was first sold, in 1965, for a few thousand dollars.

Mecum Auctions is selling the car on behalf of its current owner, Robert Fria, who lives in California.

Fria bought the car in 1997 after he saw its vehicle identification number (VIN) ending in 00002. That confirmed to him it was one of the first two Mustangs ever made, and the first hardtop. The first was a convertible but it's possible the hardtop was actually the first off the Ford production line.

"When I came across it, I recognized by the serial number what it was and that it needed to be preserved and restored. So that's what I did — I saved it for history," he said.

"You have to recognize the Mustang was one of the 10 most iconic cars of the last century."

Fria restored the car to its original condition, and even found a 1964 Yukon licence plate.

Sent to Vancouver, arrived in Whitehorse

The first batch of Mustangs in 1964 were made to test Ford's assembly line and produce cars mainly for display. The first five cars, for an unknown reason, were sent to dealerships in five regions of Canada.

The Caspian blue hardtop was intended for a dealership in Vancouver, but somehow ended up in Whitehorse at what is now known as Whitehorse Motors.

It was a basic model with no options, a six-cylinder engine and 13-inch wheels. It took almost a year to sell.

The car spent most of the next two decades in Yukon, passing through several owners before finally leaving the territory in 1983.

Fria has painstakingly researched the car's history, and managed to identify all of the car's 13 previous owners.

He says he's decided to part with it because he's "getting a little bit older. I think it's time to let it have a new home and someone else enjoy it."

The classic car website Hemmings estimates it will sell in the $450,000 to $650,000 US range. Other rare Mustangs have topped $1 million at auction.

Museum-quality piece

"It's a museum-quality restoration on the car and I really don't drive it at all. And it deserves to be displayed as a museum piece," Fria said.

Tina Woodland, general manager of Whitehorse Motors, agrees it belongs in a museum — in Yukon. She wishes  Yukoners could have organized a campaign to raise funds for the purchase of the car.

"I think it would have been great to have that car back here, you know, maybe at the [Yukon] Transportation Museum, or even here in our showroom," she said.

"But I'd be scared to keep an eye on it all the time — you know, you'd have a big wide fence around it." 

The car will be auctioned off in May.