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Resolved: The Moffat Mustang ownership dispute

ALLAN Moffat famously received his famous Trans-Am Mustang free of charge, courtesy of the Ford Motor Company in Detroit.

However, as revealed in David Hassall’s magnificent new book, The Boss, that didn’t stop Ford Australia from attempting to claim ownership of the stunning new machine.

In this exclusive extract from the book, author David Hassall explains how Special Vehicles chief Al Turner laid claim to the car when it arrived in Australia in April 1969:

BILL Gibson, a young race enthusiast and friend of Allan’s, organised the Mustang’s transport (from America to Australia).

Gibson ran the South Pacific division of freight company Air Express International out of Essendon Airport in Melbourne. Although he handled Ford Australia’s freight, Gibson and Moffat were careful not to involve the local outpost with the Mustang because it had been gifted by the parent company.

Bill Gibson: “We were keen for Ford not to be involved because Allan was really particular about the ownership of the car. He was a survivor, and he knew that he had to keep Ford well away from the car in case they claimed ownership at some stage of the game. That was uppermost in our mind.”

Gibson had good reason to be concerned about Ford Australia’s claim to the car.

When it arrived, Al Turner penned a memo to his boss, marketing chief Keith Horner, which he cc’d to company president Bill Bourke and competition manager John Gowland. Turner claimed the Trans-Am Mustang had been built “for Ford of Australia on a no-charge basis to be operated by Alan Moffatt” (his spelling).

Moffat with Al Turner. Pic: Supplied

The explosive memo, dated April 30, a few days before its debut (at Sandown), valued the car at US$30,000 and continued: “This unit will serve as a prototype for future Falcon programmes and will be under full control of the Special Vehicles Department and is the property of Ford of Australia.”

However, Moffat’s ownership of the Trans-Am Mustang was not only clear but provable, thanks to the Ford Motor Company itself and its thorough procedures and paperwork.

Ford couldn’t just hand someone a car for nothing, so the company raised an invoice – for the nominal amount of $1.00 – made out to Allan Moffat Racing.

Moffat’s mechanic, Barry Nelson, recalled the transaction: “You couldn’t get anything off Ford for nothing, you had to pay for it, so Allan paid them a dollar. When the car was being finished off at Bud Moore’s, they gave him a dollar back, so he pasted it on the firewall.”

Moffat was therefore accurate in saying the Mustang – which was literally priceless – cost him nothing.

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