It's been 45 years since Ford introduced the Mustang, and the Blue Oval chose Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL as ground zero for the big pony car celebration. Track officials estimated more than 38,000 people came out to see about 2,000 Mustangs on display from 15 different countries, and Autoblog was among the revelers.

The Mustang Club of France showed up with a dozen or so 2010 Mustangs they'd rented, Steve Saleen was signing autographs, Ford CEO Alan Mulally made a surprise appearance and the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge had two rounds of competition. There were fully-restored, low-mileage Mustangs trailered in from as far away as California and one dirt-encrusted, 1966 GT350H brought in straight from its 29-year stint in an Alabama shed. All three levels of the track's paddock area were full of Ford's iconic muscle car, as were the grassy fields normally reserved spectator parking.

When the track wasn't being used for racing, vintage and late-model Mustang owners got the chance to see what their cars could really do. The distinctive whine of Roush superchargers melded with bassy roars of 40-year-old small-blocks for a pulse-quickening aural collage, providing a singular soundtrack for the event.

Looming clouds began to gather on Saturday afternoon, but only a few sprinkles had fallen by mid-day Sunday. For the most part, temperatures in the upper 60s made walking around the landscaped track a truly memorable experience.

Happy Birthday, Mustang. Here's looking forward to another forty five!


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