Mustang Monthly Editor, Donald Farr, receives Ford's Lifetime Achievement Award at the Mid-America Ford Meet in Tulsa.
Ford’s sporty Mustang has touched millions of lives around the world since its gala introduction on April 17, 1964. There are few better examples of this phenomenon than Mustang Monthly Editor, Donald Farr. At the impressionable age of 11, Donald’s folks took him and his cousin to the 1964 New York World’s Fair where he visited Walt Disney’s Magic Skyway co-sponsored by Ford Motor Company. It was there Donald was in the company of lots of new Mustangs including twelve convertibles on the Magic Skyway. Ironically, he doesn’t remember seeing one. Perhaps it was osmosis, but Mustang stuck in more than just a superficial way. Donald’s first car would be a ’70 Mustang SportsRoof with a 302. Later on, a Grabber Blue ’70 Boss 302. His Boss 302 would inspire the book, MUSTANG BOSS 302, Ford’s Trans-Am Pony Car published by Mustang Publications (later Dobbs Publishing Group) in the early 1980s.
It was Donald’s passion for Mustangs that would lead him to a handshake with Dobbs Publishing Group founder and publisher, Larry Dobbs, of Central Florida who would hire him as Mustang Monthly’s first full-time editor in 1980. The job had very modest beginnings in a Lakeland, Florida storefront. Raw enthusiasm was such Donald would have done the job in a barn or on a street corner in a rainstorm. All he needed was a typewriter and his Yashica camera to do what excited him most. At the time, Donald and his wife, Pam, had two very young children, Lauren and Matthew. Moving hundreds of miles from his native South Carolina to the middle of Florida was a huge risk long on unknowns and a certain element of fear. There were some rough times in Mustang Monthly’s early days when Donald did his job without a paycheck. Larry never forgot Donald’s commitment to him, the company, and Mustang Monthly Magazine.
In addition to Donald's Mustang Monthly duties in those days, he also co-authored the Mustang Recognition Guide and How To Restore Your Mustang. All have been solid sources for information for those of us who love Mustangs through the years.
Donald’s commitment to Ford Motor Company and the Mustang has been awe-inspiring because he has touched thousands of lives along the way. He affected Mustang’s direction in ways he probably never imagined when he wrote a powerful “Hoofbeats” editorial directed at Ford in 1988. Ford was planning a Mazda-based front-wheel drive Mustang, which ultimately became Ford Probe. Donald’s editorial was so powerful it sparked an army of unhappy enthusiasts, more than 30,000 of them worldwide, to write Ford “No Mazda Mustang!” letters. Ford listened to Donald and thousands of enthusiasts. Ford later listened to a tough East Detroiter and Ford executive named John Coletti, who stepped up, put his career on the line, and created Team Mustang along with the all-new SN-95 Mustang for ‘94. Mustang has only gotten better in the years since.
It was Donald who launched Muscle Car Review in 1984. When Dobbs Publishing Group acquired Super Ford Magazine in 1987, Donald took this periodical to new heights with fresh and exciting ideas inspiring a new generation of late-model Mustang enthusiasts who took to the 5.0L High Output Mustang like ducks to water. The late-model Mustang racing movement can trace its roots back to Donald's vision and Super Ford Magazine.
There are many of us who earn our livings as automotive journalists thanks to Donald. Donald gave me my start in this business 27 years ago when he trusted Mustang Monthly’s fate to a young, wet behind the ears fleet dispatcher and aircraft mechanic who knew little or nothing about being a magazine editor. He welcomed me into his home and took care of me during a tough transition to Florida so long ago. He showed me the ropes and taught me how to be a good writer and photographer. Donald remains the guy who continues to mentor me and cover my back to this day.
Donald’s relationship with Ford Motor Company and thousands of enthusiasts cannot be measured. In more than three decades, Donald has become something of an institution — a friend to all of us — the steady guiding hand of Mustang Monthly Magazine. With all this in mind, Ford Motor Company made the decision to award Donald its coveted Lifetime Achievement Award at the Mid-America Ford and Team Shelby Nationals in Tulsa.
Mustang brand manager Jim Owens presented the award, Donald's lifelong buddy, Austin Craig, also on the stage. “I met Donald in 1977 when he lived in South Carolina,” Austin reflects, “He did a monthly column for the Shelby American Automobile Club’s magazine called The Boss 302 Connection, which was a big success. A few years later, he moved to Florida to work for Larry Dobbs and Mustang Monthly. All of us as Mustang enthusiasts are richer for Donald’s involvement.” — Jim Smart