INDIANAPOLIS — A 1965 Ford Mustang goes up for auction here this month, a car that represents a piece of history.

With the vehicle identification number, or VIN, of 5F07U100002, it’s believed to be the first Mustang hardtop ever made.

“I know how to read Ford VIN numbers,” says Bob Fria, its current owner who was able to figure out its significance. “I knew what it was when I bought it.”

The Mustang was among the 150 to 180 pre-production Mustangs built between Feb. 10 and March 5, 1964. In preparation for the Mustang’s launch, workers had to be trained and cars had to be built for public relations duties, according to the Mecum Auctions website. It goes on the auction block at Mecum’s Indianapolis auction, May 16 to 21.

The first two orders, white convertible 5F08F100001 and blue hardtop 5F07U100002, were to make the trip to Canadian Ford dealers so they would have a showroom car for the April 17 introduction day, according to the Mecum website. Like today, consecutive unit numbers didn’t necessarily determine the order off the assembly line, so it is unclear what car was actually the first off the line.

The hardtop was scheduled for early assembly so it could be shipped to Brown Brothers Ford in Vancouver by April 17, according to the website. But the hardtop was misrouted and ended up at Whitehorse Motors in the Yukon Territory in May, missing introduction day.

The six-cylinder, three-speed Mustang with 13-inch tires served as a demo car for about a year before it was sold in the spring of 1965.

Fria says he was living in Los Angeles when he found the car about 100 miles away in Temecula, Calif. It had been “painted the wrong color and different things had been changed” but he bought it and painstakingly returned to its original shape, including its Caspian Blue paint.

He said there had been 12 owners before he discovered it. He declines to say what he paid, but dare say it was far less than the $450,000 to $650,000 it is expected to fetch at auction.

“It was the car that started the ‘pony car,'” Fria said. “Without it, there wouldn’t have been the (Mercury) Cougar or (Chevrolet) Camaro or the (Pontiac) Firebird.”

Justin L. Mack reported from Indianapolis and Chris Woodyard from Los Angeles