Wheelies, Willies and Mustang Motorcycles

A wheelie on a Mustang motorcycle?

Willie Nelson doing a wheelie on a Mustang Motorcycle

Heart of a lion: Mustang racer and factory assembly tech Willie Nelson shows what a Mustang Model 2 could do.

Photo from MC Staff

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That’s Willie Nelson in the photo above — no, not the Willie Nelson you’re thinking of! Jim Cavanaugh, former production superintendent at the original Mustang Motorcycle Corporation plant and current advisor to CSC Motorcycles, which builds modern bikes inspired by the Mustang (read more in The Magnificent Mustang Motorcycles, January/February 2013 Motorcycle Classics), tells us Nelson raced for Mustang in addition to working in their motorcycle factory. Cavanaugh describes Nelson as the real deal: a motorcycle assembly technician, a racer and a bit of wild one with a penchant for kicking out taillights on bothersome cars. He sure looks the part. Perhaps a better name for him might be “Wheelie” Nelson.

The photo of Nelson comes from CSC Motorcycles’ extensive collection of Mustang motorcycles and memorabilia. CSC’s Steve Seidner recently bought the Al Simmons collection of original Mustang motorcycles. Simmons, founder of Mustang Seats, named his company after the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane, and started collecting Mustang motorcycles years later. Gladden Products (the original Mustang motorcycle manufacturer) made aircraft components during the war; founder John Gladden is rumored to have also been inspired by the WWII plane. After the original Mustang folded in 1963, it didn’t take long for an American automobile manufacturer — Ford — to pick up the name.

Seidner’s collection of approximately 30 classic Mustangs is the largest of its kind anywhere in the world and currently includes Mustang Colts, Broncos, the Pony, the Thoroughbred, Trail Models and several of the ultra-rare three-wheeled DeliverCycles. The collection is on display at the CSC manufacturing facility in Azusa, Calif. Visitors are welcome. MC