On October 20, 1965 at the 10:30 pm the Mustang was taken apart outside on the ground level and began it's journey up the elevator. Everything went smooth except for one section which was off by a quarter-inch preventing it from fitting in the elevator. After some careful moves the section fit in the elevator and up it went to the observation deck were it was reassembled with the other sections. In just six short hours the Mustang was disassembled and reassembled on the 86th floor observation deck to be photographed from above by a helicopter.
The Mustang was then taken apart again and put inside the enclosed glass observation room. It stayed there for five months until it disassembled and removed.
Archived Press Release:
In October 1965, with the Ford Mustang the hottest-selling car in America, the general manager of the Empire State Building had a great idea – to display a Ford Mustang on the 86th floor observation deck of the iconic Manhattan landmark.
Officials at Ford agreed and dispatched a crew to take was careful measurements of the skyscraper's doors, hallways and elevators. They determined that a white convertible Mustang could be disassembled into four main sections and transported – along with many smaller pieces – up to the building's 86th floor in elevators to be reassembled.
Three dry runs performed in Dearborn to make sure it would work. Then, at 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 20, a Ford crew in crisp white overalls began taking the car apart outside the building on 33rd Street.
It all ran smoothly until the crew discovered the steering column was one-quarter-inch too tall for the elevator. Some careful maneuvering was done and by 4:30 a.m., the reassembled car was on the outdoor observation deck and ready to be photographed from a helicopter.
But that wasn't the end of the stunt. Later that morning, the car was taken apart again and moved inside the glass-enclosed observation area that is surrounded by the outdoor deck.
Many of the building's visitors were surprised and delighted to find a Mustang there and assumed it had been lifted into place by a helicopter.
Five months later, on March 16, 1966, the car was disassembled for the last time and removed from the building.
Since its debut in 1964, over nine million Mustangs have been sold but only one ever made it to the top of the Empire State Building.
-Leslie Armbruster, Senior Collections Archivist at Ford Motor Company