Jeff Ford
October 1, 2002
Contributers: Jeff Ford, From The Mustang Monthly Archives Photos By: From The Mustang Monthly Archives

The GT is a Mustang that was and is a stalwart of the Ford line. It did service from 1965 to 1969, then took a hiatus until 1982. Many may know that GT stands for Grand Touring. But what exactly does that mean to the Mustang enthusiast? It seems even Ford had a problem keeping the idea of Grand Touring stable.

The early Mustangs, and thereby GTs ('65-'66), were Pony in nature, neither brute nor sports car. Thus the name ponycar was derived to support the new flavor of performance. The early steed seems to be a mild-mannered car about town when sporting the 289 4V, C4 automatic slush box, and mild gear sets. Even with the more furry-chested 289 Hi-Po the car was no match for the big-inch GTOs and other muscle cars of the era. Then as the years progressed, some of the GTs became monsters, all musclebound and full of testosterone. Even so, most GTs were more like their forefathers, hefting around 289s and 302s (both 2V and 4V models). Only in 1969 did Ford give the GT a more performance-oriented base model V-8 with the 351 2V.

But what about now and what about you? What constitutes a True GT? That question has as many answers as there are people to pop the question. However, we can break the owners into four basic groups. In this article we'll help you figure out where you are-or are not.

Basic GTThe GT or Grand Touring Mustang was what the Mustang should have been overall. Many of the options the GT came with are the very options we add to the Ponies in our own stables. The amenities included foglamps, front disc brakes (standard from 1965 through 1967, optional after 1967), competetion suspension that gave the GT owner stiffer springs, bigger front sway bar, quick ratio steering, and different shock damping to promote a sportier ride (which by modern standards is somewhat puny). Up front the GT had, at least in the beginning, a four-barrel 289 V-8 in basic form. Below are the engines the early GT carried.

Engine & Code Trans Rear Axle
1965 (A) 289 4V three-speed 3.00 (stnd)
    four-speed 3.00 (stnd)
automatic 3.00 (stnd)
(K) 289 4V four-speed 3.50 (stnd) 3.89 (opt)
(HiPo)
1966 (A) 289 4V three-speed 3.00 (stnd)
    four-speed 3.00 (stnd)
automatic 3.00 (stnd)
(K) 289 4V four-speed 3.50 (stnd) 3.89 (opt)
(HiPo) automatic 3.50 (stnd) 3.89 (opt)
1967 (C) 289 2V three-speed 2.{{{80}}} (stnd) 3.00 (opt)
    four-speed 2.80 (stnd) 3.00 (opt)
automatic 2.80 (stnd) 3.00 (opt)
(A) 289 4V three-speed 3.00 (stnd)
  four-speed 3.00 (stnd)
automatic 3.00 (stnd)
(K) 289 4V four-speed 3.50 (stnd) 3.89 (opt)
(HiPo) automatic 3.50 (stnd) 3.89 (opt)
(S) 390 4V three-speed 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
  four-speed 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
automatic 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
1968 (J) 302 4V three-speed 3.00 (stnd) 2.79 (opt)
    four-speed 3.00 (stnd) 2.79 (opt)
  automatic 3.00 (stnd) 2.79 (opt)
(S) 390 4V three-speed 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
  four-speed 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
  automatic 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
(R) 428 4V four-speed 3.50 (stnd) 3.89 (opt)
  automatic 3.50 (stnd) 3.89 (opt)
1969 (H) 351 2V three-speed 2.79 (stnd) 3.00 (opt)
      3.25
four-speed 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
automatic 2.79 (stnd) 3.00 (opt)
  3.25
({{{M}}}) 351 4V three-speed 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
  four-speed 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
  3.50*
3.91*
4.30*
automatic 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
(S) 390 4V four-speed 3.00 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
    3.50*
3.91*
4.30*
automatic 2.75 (stnd) 3.00 (opt)
  3.25 (opt)
3.50*
3.91*
(Q) 428 4V four-speed 3.25 (stnd) 3.50 (opt)
    3.91*
4.30*
automatic 3.25 (stnd) 3.50 (opt)
  3.91*
4.30*
(R) 428 4V four-speed 3.50 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
    3.91*
  4.30*
automatic 3.50 (stnd) 3.25 (opt)
  3.91*
  4.30*

*Denotes locking differential.

Basic GT For YouOf course that was then, this is now. Nearly 40 years later the GT is showing its age. Time and progress have supposedly taken some of the verve that the GT of yore had. Or has it? We don't think so. However, there are updates you can make to a GT to make it a True GT by today's standards. To say what a GT is to you will be hard. Obviously, the purist in us will say the car should remain what it was. True. Certain real GTs should be left alone, especially the rare ones.

But couldn't one take an average Mustang and spiff it up to GT specs, or more importantly, your GT specs? Ford originally said the Mustang was a car to be built by you. Ergo, we are going to delve into what you you might be. Keep in mind that you might be a mix of all these types. That's fine, just mix and match what you want.

Plush PowerThe Plush Power owner likes the GT to be smooth and powerful. No need for loud exhaust, buckboard ride suspension, or rock-hard seats. Reliability is key, so there's less compunction about razor edge performance, although good street power and finesse is always a consideration. Plush Power owners are into subtle good looks.

*Body: '67-'69. More leg, head, and hip room. The '67 will, with stock seats, offer a bit more headroom than the '68. The '69 will be a decent fit for those not over 6 feet, 2 inches tall.

*Engine: Small-block 351 4V with roller valvetrain. Big-block 390 4V with 428 or aftermarket heads, 428 4V stock rebuild.

*Transmission: Ford Automatic Overdrive from Lentech, (613) 838-5390.

*Rear Axle: 3.50:1 Traction-Lok 9-inch.

*Suspension, wheels, and tires: One-inch front sway bar, stock springs with Monroe shocks. Rubber bushings. Fifteen-inch Styled Steel wheels mounting P225/60R 15 tires.

*Amenities: Tilt wheel is a must on GT for taller drivers. We also recommend relocation of the driver's seat via the article we did in the June 2001 issue. Power windows from Electric Life, (800) 548-2168, www.electric-life.com. Good four-speaker stereo with CD changer from Custom AutoSound, (800) 888-8637, www.custom-autosound.com. Power steering (optional), power disc brakes (mandatory), air con-ditioning using the low drag Sanden compressor from Classic Auto Air, (813) 251-2356.

*Stuff: Although the desire for a bad mutha is indeed in the mix for the person wanting Plush Power, we recommend a '67-'69 setup with a 390 4V. The engine is small enough displacement-wise to give you a bit of a break (albeit a small one) on gas when coupled with a an AOD. With its big-block character, it can deliver awesome torque.

Heavy HitterHardcore is easy. Just make it as loud and brawny as you can. Power should be eye blistering and the suspension should carve canyons with the best of them. Reliability is not as big a concern as performance. In fact, the engine/chassis should (although they'd never admit it) be scary even to the owner. The hardcore owners, by their very nature, want to be noticed-so flash is where it's at.

*Body: '65-'66. The lightest chassis available in a Mustang.

*Engine: Small-block 393 (351 Windsor) with sefi, with roller valvetrain and shorty headers. Vortech supercharger.

*Transmission: Tremec 3550 or better tranny.

*Rear Axle: 3.73:1 Traction-Lok 9-inch.

*Suspension, wheels, and tires: Go with a complete setup from Mustangs Plus. Wheels run the gamut, but we like the new 17-inch billets from Newstagial. Couple these with a P245/50 17 tire and you'll have a clean retro look.

*Amenities: Tilt wheel is a must on GT for taller drivers. We also recommend relocation of the driver's seat via the article we did in the June 2001 issue. Taller drivers may find the '65-'66 fit a bit tight even with the seat pan change. Power windows from Electric Life, (800) 548-2168, www.electric-life.com. Good four-speaker stereo with CD changer from Custom AutoSound, (800) 888-8637, www.custom-autosound.com. Power steering (optional), power disc brakes (mandatory), air conditioning using the low drag Sanden compressor from Classic Auto Air (813) 251-2356.

*Stuff: They should consider building a brutal '67-'69 powered by a 428 Cobra Jet built to the hilt. Genesis, (317) 733-1695, is now offering a new block casting that allows for bigger inches from the old FE standby.

Fire and Forget Certain owners like "sporty" cars. However, they're not interested in ever having to pop the hood. Though they want the image, the power level is not what is most important to them. To them, sporty means never having to say "Hello, AAA," while giving them the edge on performance and style. They like power, but aren't interested in loud exhaust, bumpy cams, and buckboard-like handling.

*Body: '65-'69 or new GT. This goes to personal preference.

*Engine: Small-block 289 to 351 4V or 4.6.

*Transmission: Although an AOD would be nice, if you're looking to that as a solution to gas needs, stay with the tried-and-true stock stuff.

*Rear Axle: 3.00:1 to 3.25:1 Traction-Lok 9-inch

*Suspension, wheels and tires: Stock with 1-inch front sway bar. Keep your stock-style springs and use the Monroe shocks to dampen the ride.

*Amenities: Tilt wheel is a must on GT for taller drivers. We also recommend relocation of the driver's seat via the article we did in the June 2001 issue. Taller Drivers may find the '65-'66 a bit of a tight fit even with the seat pan change. Power windows from Electric Life, (800) 548-2168, www.electric-life.com. Good four-speaker stereo with CD changer from Custom AutoSound, (800) 888-8637, www.custom-autosound.com. Power steering (optional), power disc brakes (mandatory), air conditioning using the low drag Sanden compressor from Classic Auto Air, (813) 251-2356.

*Stuff: Stay with tried-and-true stuff, nothing too wild.

Young GunYoung guns are just that-young owners probably on a tight budget. Therefore, they are bang-for-the-buck kind of people. For them, the choices revolve around two things: a credit card or a budget. Of course, after they charge up the card, then there's a budget to deal with. So we guess it really does revolve around a budget after all. Therefore, we get a little more specific with them on what they need/want.

*Body: '68-'69. Get into a hardtop.

*Engine: Small-block 289-351s use a 4V intake and aftermarket carb. Dual exhaust.

*Transmission: Stock. C4 with shift kit or four-speed. If the car has the three-speed, dump the chump at the first opportunity.

*Rear Axle: 3.50:1 Traction-Lok in whatever is in the rearend-provided it's an 8 or 9-inch axle.

*Suspension, wheels and tires: Think kits. Mustangs Plus offers a nice kit that will give you all the handling prowess you'll need on the street. Wheels and tires are up to you, but stay below 16-inch rims to keep your tires and wheels cost lower.

*Amenities: Taller Drivers may find the '65-'66 a bit of a tight fit, even with the seat pan change. Good four-speaker stereo with CD changer from Custom AutoSound, (800) 888-8637. Power steering (optiional), power disc brakes (mandatory), air conditioning using the low drag Sanden compressor from Classic Auto Air, (813) 251-2356.

*Stuff: Keep an eye on the expense.

The Real Zoom, ZoomThat's an open-ended idea. It can mean different things to different people. What we are typically talking about here, though, are engines. For our money, it's hard to beat a big-inch mill in a GT. Nowadays, that can be had via any chassis by simply snatching up a 351 Windsor and a Stroker kit from guys like Coast High Performance.

Still, there is something to be said for the brute size and wow of a 390 or 428 big-block. All that engine filling up a '67-'69 engine bay is enough to make the power hungry drool. These engines with their mountainous gobs of torque that can seemingly ripple pavement cause us to get all loose kneed. Mmmmm.

Best Plush Heavy Young Fire and
Engines Power Hitter Gun Forget
'65-'66 body 351 4V 393 stroker 289 4V 289
'67-'68 body 390-428 393 or 428 302 289 4V
'69 body 351 4V 393 stroker 302 4V 302 4V

Transmission TransitionThe transmission is another place where we can all go hog wild. Heavy Hitters want a five-speed, Plush Power owners want an automatic overdrive (AOD), Fire and Forgets want the AOD or C4 with reliability, and the young guns want something that works. One thing we'll say is that manual shifters should go bucks-up for a Hurst for their four-speed or one of the many five-speed shifter companies for their conversion.

There are pros and cons to each of these trannies. At right are what we see from the different types.

Manual Shifts *Three-speed Pros: Ummm, it's in the car? OK, the 3.03 is rock solid, but who really cares?

*Three-speed Cons: Ummm, it's in the car. The space between Second and Third gears, ratio-wise, is enormous and you can't overcome it with rear gearing.

*Four-speed Pros: One bad stud. Ford's toploader is tough and reliable and very hard to break. Least parasitic horsepower loss.

*Four-speed Cons: No Overdrive. That is really our only complaint; well that, and parts are becoming kind of hard to get.

*Five-speed Pros: Get a 3550 or TKO from Tremec and you have the world at your feet as far as gearing your car is concerned. Overdrive is nice too.

*Five-speed Cons: World Class T5s (stock, see the article in the August 2002 issue or see it online at www.mustangmonthly.com) are a little easier to destroy under high torque and horsepower demands.

Automatics*C4 Pros: Undoubtedly the best performing and most stingy tranny Ford ever used. It has the least parasitic horsepower drain and the most parts available to modifiy it. It is also one of the cheapest to build if it is already in the car.

*C4 Cons: Obviously, with the advent of kits to slap an AOD into practically any Mustang, the C4 is getting hard pressed. Folks just don't want to stress the engine like a C4 can with the bigger gears.

*C6 Pros: Bulletproof. This tranny, designed to back up the big-block engines Ford began shoving into the Mustang in 1967, is strong and reliable behind any big block.

*C6 Cons: Horsepower pig. Though the C6 is a great, sturdy tranny, it also sucks more horses out of your engine than the C4.

*FMX Pros: Sturdy. Smooth and pedestrian. Only available behind the 351 Windsor.

*FMX Cons: No parts to make the FMX a sportier shifter. It, like the C6, is a power pig.

*Automatic Overdrive (AOD) Pros: As time has gone on, the AOD has become more accessible and easier to put into a vintage chassis. It's also easier on engine parts when coupled with a steeper gear. We recommend going no lower than 3.25:1 with this tranny.

*Automatic Overdrive (AOD) Cons: Cost. The AOD is still an expensive addition to a car that (hopefully) already has a tranny.

Dems Da BrakesWhen it comes to brakes, safety is our watchword. This is one area where we should all be the same-or at least as close to the same as we can get. Definitely pitch the ratty old single-reservoir master cylinder that Ford used on the '65-'66 Mustang. Although most folks never really think about it, if this little jewel dies, then you have no brakes-except for the pull handle for the emergency brakes, and who thinks to pull that in an emergency? There are several companies who deal in the brake components and we cover them often in Mustang Monthly. Below are the minumum requirements, in our opinion, for a True GT braking system.

*Basic: Dual-reservoir master cylinder with new stainless lines from In Line Tube, (800) 358-9452, or Classic Tube, (800) 882-3711, on all cars. Disc brakes up front with good working drums on the rear.

*Upgrade: Add a booster from Master Power brakes, (704) 664-8866, www.mpbrakes.com to the above system. This will ease braking effort.

*Premium: All the above with four-wheel disc brakes. This is a good idea for the Plush Power owner or the Heavy Hitter who will be working the brakes harder.

Rolling AlongRolling stock can drive you out of your mind and into a drinking habit. There are so many choices in wheels, from stock to wild, that we could fill the whole magazine every month for a year with the stuff. It really boils down to personal preference. Below we give you some pros and cons of wheel and tire choice.

Stock wheels and tiresWell, stock is stock and almost nobody wants to roll around on Bias Ply tires. So many of us go radial. Stock sizes offer distinct advantages, like being less expensive than the new crop of 15- or better inch tires, plus better comfort than the average performance tire. Minuses include lackluster performance when compared to the low-profile stuff, and at least by most aftermarket standards, the look is somewhat staid.

Plus sizesMany don't consider the 15-inch wheel a plus size anymore, but the GT originally only came with, at the largest, a 14x6 Styled Steel wheel. So a 15-inch rim is truly "plus." But in this day and age there are even larger sizes available for your Mustang. Newstagial has a super trick billet aluminum center magnum 500 available in a 17-inch rim width. The Torque Thrust, long a favorite, is available in sizes from the original stock widths all the way out to 17s. The pro of plus sizing is the added handling prowess. With their short sidewall, the plus-sized wheel-and-tire package can outperform the more balloonish profile of a stock profile. Remember to roll those fender lips when plus-sizing.

Sizing Plush Power Heavy Hitter Young Gun Fire and Forget
'65-'66 Body 15x7 SS 17x7 {{{Magnum}}} 14x6 SS* 15x7 SS
'67-'68 Body 15x7 SS 17x7 Magnum 14x6 SS* 15x7 SS
'69 Body 15x7 SS 17x7 Magnum 14x6 SS* 15x7 SS
*Running low-profile 60-series tire.

Ahhhh GT MenitiesMan or woman does not live by power and finesse alone. The Young Guns may be able to do without all the goodies that the older drivers like to have, but everybody likes to have all the comforts of home-OK, maybe home doesn't have power windows, but you get the idea.

Top Down GTWhen we think True GT, nothing is better than a drop-top. And Ron and Cindy Movinski of Canton, Michigan, have built what is, to us, a True GT. Packing a mildly warmed 390 4V, a C6 automatic and 3.50:1 Traction-Lok rear gears, the car can and does-as evidenced by the photo-know how to get up and run. To make the GT seem a bit more menacing and give it that "just right stance," Ron lowered the suspension (just a skosh) and added 15-inch Styled Steel wheels shod in P225/60R-15 BFGoodrich raised white-letter rubber. The interior may look a bit odd to purists but it's just what Ron wanted: a blend of the '65-'66 Deluxe and the '67 deluxe. It is so well done, it took us a minute to realize it wasn't stock. With all of that, the car is a great local cruiser even without the amenities, of which there are plenty. The things that make the GT a real pleasure are air conditioning, power steering, and power disc brakes. Add to that the six-disc CD changer and Custom Autosound stereo, and you have a system, a True GT system.

True GTSee a True GT on the World Wide Web! Donald Farr, before he jumped ship, did a nice job of updating his GT to True GT specs. Up front, the 289 is now sporting a rollerized cam and packing GT40 heads, tri-Y headers, and a Cobra intake with a 600-cfm Holley. Although the C4 wasn't touched, Donald doesn't drive the car on long trips so there was little need for an AOD. Out back the 3.00 gear set stayed put. In Donald's words, "I've done a Boss 302 with the big gears; the 3.00 suits me fine." Stopping prowess has been added with four-wheel disc brakes and a set of 16-inch Torque Thrust D wheels mounting sticky P225/50-16 BFGoodrich rubber. A Grab-a-Track suspension kit from Mustangs Plus has all the things we mentioned in the Heavy Hitter. The rest of the GT is as Ford delivered it in 1966.