Text by: Austin C. Craig
The Mustang Club of America was founded in 1976 by a group of enthusiasts who wanted to create an organization that was dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of the Ford Mustang, model years 1964½ through 1973. The Shelby GT350 and GT500 1965-1970 models were also included. Wanting to grow the club, the MCA leadership advertised and promoted to both Mustang owners and aspiring Mustang intenders with a theme line of, “Ownership not essential, enthusiasm is.” It worked, made everyone feel welcome, and the MCA continued to grow and prosper.
Headquartered in Georgia, the group built the MCA, by hosting car shows, mainly in the Southeast. In the process the group established the class guidelines that included everything from daily drivers to all out show cars. The MCA also recruited very knowledgeable Mustang enthusiasts, who knew each Mustang model year in complete detail to become judges for all the different classes. The judges did more than just grade each Mustang at the MCA events; they became teachers, assisting owners with their Mustangs, explaining the finer points needed to score well in their respective classes. It was not long before the some of the finest show car and concours Mustangs began competing at MCA shows.
Realizing that not all members can attend the MCA sponsored shows and that the club needed a core communication with its members, MCA established a first class magazine, Mustang Times. The magazine provided an outstanding monthly communication channel for every member. In addition to show coverage and MCA member news, Mustang Times offered free classified ads for all members. As the Mustang hobby grew so did the number of aftermarket companies that provided parts and technical information. Any number of these companies found Mustang Times to be a very effective and efficient media buy and signed on as advertisers in the magazine. Many like National Parts Depot, Mustangs Unlimited, and Virginia Classic Mustangs still advertise in Mustang Times today.
As time went on the Mustang hobby grew, with the advent of the Mustang II and in 1979 the Mustang Fox-body. Responding to the new Mustangs, the Mustang Club of America welcomed the Mustang II and Fox-body Mustangs expanding its original coverage from the original cars.
Throughout the ’80s and early ’90s the Mustang Club of America grew, and in the process became the leading Mustang club in the country. With the 30th Anniversary of the Mustang looming in 1994 and with the advent of a new Mustang it was time for the MCA and The Ford Motor Company to work together to create and execute the largest Mustang event ever produced. Two roadblocks needed to be overcome for the event to occur. First the MCA leadership needed to create a sponsorship program that would be of interest to Ford. The second was the need to overcome the perception by many of Ford marketing executives that the MCA was only interested in 1964 Mustangs!
At the time I was the Mustang Account Supervisor at J. Walter Thompson, Ford Division’s advertising and communication agency. The MCA has always been blessed with talented people at the helm and I met with Bill Dillard, Ricky Simmons and the late Jim Osborn to eliminate both roadblocks. First we created a sponsorship proposal, including a great location, the Charlotte Motor Speedway, an event that would include special Ford display and seminar locations, an open track event, modified car show and a banquet where Ford executives could present the latest information from the world of Ford.
Since most MCA members own a variety of Ford vehicles I made large cut outs of Dillard, Simmons, and Osborn with a list of Ford vehicles each of them owned. The list covered everything from F-Series to Escort and astounded some of the people on the Ford 30th Mustang Anniversary Committee! This presentation eliminated the second roadblock and ushered in a new era of MCA growth and expansion. The event was a rousing success with over 100,000 people and 4,500 Mustangs attending. Ford senior management was very impressed as was the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, owner of a 1967 Mustang, that Ford shipped in for the event.
The Mustang 30th Anniversary set the stage for a continued relationship with Ford Motor Company that continues today. The event also interested a number of people who wanted to serve on the MCA Board of Directors from all over the country.
In the late ’90s and in the new decade the BOD included enthusiasts from all parts of the country and Ford Motor Company employees. One of these was Art Hyde, Mustang Nameplate Chief Engineer, who would later be in charge of the 2005 Mustang program. Bill Johnson a successful businessman and hardcore Mustang enthusiast from Lopez Island in the Seattle area of the country was elected President, the first person outside the Southeast to hold that position. Arley Whitsell a CPA and Mustang enthusiast hailing from Washington D.C. became treasurer and did a brilliant job of setting up a new accounting process that was critical for the MCA to grow and prosper. Arley later became President and was an effective leader.
The new members of the MCA BOD were interested in growing the club in terms of membership and also the events the club hosted. Each year the club hosted National Shows and a Grand National Show that attracted some of the finest examples of the Mustang brand in the country. While successful, it became evident that Mustang owners wanted to do more with their cars, they wanted to drive them. The sold out open track events and the cruises at the 35th and 40th Mustang Anniversary events demonstrated this fact. In 2004 during the 40th it was estimated that 1,000 Mustangs would participate in the cruise from the host hotel, The Opryland to downtown Nashville. Over 2,100 actually took part in the cruise!
A survey was conducted and the MCA found that only 9 percent of their audience were interested in concours events and judged shows. The MCA also discovered their events in Western part of the country attracted a different type of Mustang owner. One year during the Grand National held in the state of Washington, 62 Mustangs showed up for the judged show. The next day 1,200 Mustangs filled the show field during the popular vote portion of the show.
Evolving with the changing Mustang hobby, the MCA has responded with a number of open track events where participants can run their Mustangs in any number of classes from touring to well-prepared. This gives everyone a chance to drive their car on a track in a class they are comfortable with and have fun with their vehicle.
Mustang owners enjoy cruising and many MCA regional events feature a cruise as part of their events. The National and Grand National events also have incorporated more activities than just a judged car show. The 2010 Grand National will be held July 15-18 in Bellevue, Washington, and will feature a number of venues where participants will be driving their Mustangs. There will be a judged show as well as the Mustangs Northwest Roundup. The event is not the first MCA Grand National hosted by Mustangs Northwest and will be four days of Mustang excitement.
For 2010 the Mustang Club of America will sponsor over 11 open track events around the country. The Music City Region in Nashville, Tennessee, has been a leader in hosting open track events by holding two events, the first in May and the second in September at the Nashville Speedway for the past few years. This talented group hosted the 40th Mustang Celebration in 2004 and ran the tech inspection at the Mustang 45th Anniversary in April of 2009 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
This year the Carolina Regional Mustang Club will host the 10th Annual Performance Driving School at Carolina Motorsports Park located in Kershaw, South Carolina. This open track event is a fun for the beginner or experienced driver. The MCA provides insurance coverage for these and all its driving events.
A Board of Directors meets at least four times a year to handle the business of running the organization. Since board members live in all regions of the country the BOD meet in Dallas, Texas, to facilitate everyone’s travel plans.
The MCA is proud to have sponsorship and an excellent relationship with the Ford Motor Company. Under the leadership of President Steven McCarley, the MCA Ford Liaison Committee works with a number of Ford marketing and public affairs individuals including, Robert Parker, Director of Ford Product Communications, Robert has been instrumental in developing the strong MCA Ford relationship. The committee members enjoy working with Mustang Marketing Manager, Allison Revier, and Steve Ling, Ford Car North America Marketing Manager.
Thanks to this group, every Mustang sold has an MCA membership brochure in the glove compartment. This is the first time MCA information was able to be packaged with each Mustang and it gives the club exceptional exposure to new Mustang owners.
During the Mustang’s 45th Anniversary Celebration in April 2009, Ford President and CEO, Alan Mulally, joined the MCA. It’s the first time in history the President of the Ford Motor Company has been a card carrying MCA member!
Last fall MCA President Steven McCarley and I traveled to Dearborn to meet the engineers behind the sensational Mustang Track Pack suspension system that adds a new dimension to the ride and handling of the Mustang. Being a former professional road racer with Sports Car Club of America and IMSA experience, McCarley was the great source of information on the Mustang Track Pack article I am writing for an upcoming issue of AutoTrader Classics’ Mustang & Ford magazine. Steven is also the first professional road racer that I know of to be President of the Mustang Club of America.
Over the past few years MCA has also developed a great relationship with Ford Racing. We have worked a number of programs for the MCA membership with Jamie Allison, Ford Racing Performance Parts Manager. The Ford Racing mobile display is seen at a number of club events throughout the year.
Always looking for value for club members, the MCA was able to attract Heacock Classic collector Car insurance as a sponsor. Led by longtime enthusiast, Ford Heacock, the company offers special insurance rates with outstanding coverage to MCA members for both their classic and current model Mustangs.
Mustang Club of America Treasurer, Ron Bramblett thinks enough of the organization to also have his company, Mustangs Plus, as a corporate sponsor. Established in the early ’80s, Mustangs Plus is the leading Restomod shop in the country. The home of the “Ronster” a specially modified early-model Mustang, Mustangs Plus offers a wide selection of parts for stock and modified Mustangs.
AutoTrader Classics and the MCA have a valued relationship. Each issue of this Mustang & Ford contains a listing of MCA Regional Meets around the country as well as an ad for MCA. The MCA is pleased to announce a new sponsor for 2010–Kicker Audio has come on board as the Official Performance Audio of the Mustang Club of America. Kicker, the nation’s leading car audio company, makes outstanding sound systems for Mustangs of all years. Kicker Audio will be exhibiting at selected MCA events during the year.
Last year the MCA and Scott Drake Automotive created a contest for the MCA Regions. Named the “Pay it Forward Program,” the contest included a clapped out 1966 Mustang convertible, with $10,000 worth of parts from Scott Drake, an engine supplied from Quantum Performance, a C4 transmission from Performance Automatic and performance audio system from Kicker. The contest was open to all MCA Regional Cubs to submit a proposal on how they would restore the Mustang.
The response was outstanding with a number of regions submitting well thought out and professionally prepared presentations. After many tough hours of deliberations by Mustang Times Editor Mary Jean Wesche, Scott Drake and people in his organization, Mustangs of East Texas, Tyler, Texas, was declared the winner. Led by club President John Haigler and MCA Board Member, Craig Chesley, the group had created a first class presentation and plan to restore the 1966 Mustang convertible.
The Mustang was presented to the Mustangs of East Texas members at the Mustang 45th Anniversary Celebration in April 2009. The talented members restored the Mustang and had it running in an incredible 100 days. It was on display in the Scott Drake exhibit at the 2009 SEMA Show and will be auctioned off at the 2010 Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona. Proceeds will be presented to the East Texas Crisis Center in Tyler, Texas, a non-profit organization that provides services to victims of family violence and sexual assault. The Pay it Forward Mustang provided an exciting and challenging opportunity for the Mustang Club of America Regional Clubs and they responded in a splendid manner.
The Mustang Club of America is dedicated to the promotion, preservation and enjoyment of Mustangs of all vintages and to its members who have made the Mustang America’s Number 1 Pony Car for over 45 continuous years. For more information on the Mustang Club of America, go to www.mustang.org.
The 2011 Mustang Club of America Special Edition
For the first time in the history of the Mustang Brand, the Ford Mustang Brand Team has created a Mustang Club of America Special Edition Mustang. The car is packed with features including the new for 2011 3.7L V6 with 305 horsepower and 30 mpg highway engine. Both the 305 hp and the 30 mpg figures top the best Camaro numbers.
The Mustang Club of America Special Edition will feature unique MCA badging, is available in all the Mustang exterior and interior color combinations and comes standard with the new Performance Package that includes the following:
• 3.31 rear axle ratio
• Mustang GT front and rear stabilizer bars
• Mustang GT front struts and rear shocks/springs
• Shelby GT500 rear lower control arm
• Unique dark aluminum 18 inch wheels
• Pirelli P Zero 235/50.18R performance radials
• Mustang GT front and rear brake calipers with special pads
• Strut tower brace
• Unique electronic stability control calibration with Sport mode for performance driving
• Billet grille
• Fog lamps
This special Mustang is a result of the wonderful relationship between the MCA and Ford Motor Company. It will be available in limited numbers and can be ordered now with delivery beginning in early spring.
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The MCA sponsors National Events all over North America. The Canadian Nationals held at the Ford offices in Toronto was a huge success.
The Mustang Club of America Officers during a Board of Directors Meeting. Left to right, Randy Jacobson, Secretary, Ron Bramblett, Treasurer, President Steven McCarley, Steve Prewitt, Vice President and Past President, Bill Johnson are leading the MCA to new growth.
The Buckeye Region of the MCA conducted a very successful National Event in 2009.
John Clor, Ford Racing contributes informative articles to Mustang Times, the MCA magazine. Clor recently began writing for AutoTrader Classics.
The MCA Ford Liaison Committee members, L-R, Rick Umberger, Ed Hockaday and Steven McCarley enjoy talking with Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company Vice President of Global Marketing and a true Mustang enthusiast, in Mustang Alley during the 2009 Woodward Dream Cruise.
New MCA sponsor Kicker Audio will attend selected MCA events in 2010.
The Pay it Forward Contest winners from Mustangs of East Texas, Tyler Texas are shown at the 2009 SEMA Show.