Rare Mustangs gallop into the Petersen for Mustangs Madness

Rare Mustangs gallop into the Petersen for Mustangs Madness

In China, 2014 is the Year of the Horse. In America, 2014 is the Year of the Mustang. In case you haven’t heard (or didn’t stumble across the yellow Mustang Convertible perched atop the Empire State Building last month), America’s favorite pony car is turning 50 this year, giving rise to dozens of 50th anniversary commemorations around the country. The new Mustangs Forever: 50 Years of a Legend exhibit, curated by the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, is shaping up to be one of the coolest of them all.

The collection features nearly 20 historically significant Mustangs, many of which have particular ties to California, and opens to the public this weekend during the museum’s Mustang Madness celebration.

Since don’t like to wait—and nor do you, we suspect—we pulled a few strings and snuck into the museum a few days early for some private time, even as the Petersen folks continued putting the exhibit together. The show’s lighting was still being installed, the info boards were absent, and the cars were not in their final staging positions (we witnessed them hoisting one feature Mustang into place). It basically looked like a Mustang collector’s personal garage. And that was just fine by us.

When all the cars are finally in place, the exhibit will be a veritable orgy of hood scoops and exhaust pipes, with at least one example of each generation represented—yes, even including a little white Mustang II. Highlights of the collection include the legendary racecars like the 1969 “Four-Engine” Mustang dragster and the 1967 “MALCO Gasser,” as well as four Shelby Mustangs, two Boss 302s, a beautiful 2009 Iacocca 45th anniversary Mustang, a 2011 GT retractable hardtop by the legendary Galpin Auto Sports, a 1968 GT California Special, and the ’65 Mustang convertible Ronald Reagan used during his 1966 California gubernatorial campaign.

The only ones that hadn’t arrived yet are a 1971 Eleanor Mustang from the 1974 "Gone in 60 Seconds" movie and a 2015 model, which will be there by the time the doors to the Mustang corral open to the public. Interestingly, the 2015 model will only be on display for a short time, while most of the other Mustangs will remain on display through October of this year.