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Mustang Oddities - Unusual Mustangs
Unusal Mustangs Confirm What Most Will Never Believe
We've never lost our fascination for the odd finds. Back in April of this year, Kevin Marti of Marti Auto Works and I were sitting in his suburban Phoenix showroom chatting about Mustang oddities—those Mustangs that many enthusiasts swear Ford never built because the orders made little sense. Of course, on the flip side there are the Mustangs that people claim were built but actually never saw the end of an assembly line, let alone ordered.
Kevin visited his vast Ford database (home of the coveted Marti Reports) to find some of the most unusual Mustang orders ever, plus those "rare" Mustangs that enthusiasts insist a buddy or an uncle had that were never built. Currently, Kevin's Mustang information covers the 1967 to 1993 model years, which gives him a broad database for research.
Because the Marti Auto Works Ford database doesn't go back beyond 1967, it leaves 1965-1966 as a huge production mystery. Yet Kevin has answers there too because he has acquired the In Search of Mustangs Registry & Census, having recently created a website and database at www.insearchofmustangs.org. The In Search of Mustangs website is user friendly and invites your participation, including adding your Mustang to the database. From the Ford database and In Search of Mustangs, we have amassed an interesting line of Mustang oddities—ones we have confirmed Ford built along with the ones Ford truly never built.
1971 Boss 302
Skeptics struggle to believe this one, but it is true. Ford ordered six pre-production 1971 Boss 302 Mustangs with "G" engine codes and Boss 302 engines for photography and magazine road test purposes. One was built and the others were cancelled when Ford discontinued the Boss 302 program in the summer of 1970.
Andrew Hack bought his Grabber Yellow 1971 SportsRoof in 2007 because he liked the looks with Mach 1 hockey stick stripes. Yet it wasn't a Mach 1; with 4-speed transmission and 9-inch rear end mounted with staggered rear shocks, it was more like a Boss 351. That's because the SportsRoof left the Dearborn assembly plant as a 1971 Boss 302 for display at Ford's dealer show in Las Vegas and possibly for promotional photography—only the "Boss 302" decals were later air-brushed to read "Boss 351."
When Ford was finished with this car, the Boss lettering on the fenders and rear deck lid were removed, and the engine was replaced with a 2-barrel 351 Cleveland, including a new VIN with the corresponding H engine code. Hack used a hair dryer to loosen the door decals, enabling him to uncover the original VIN label with the G engine code—for Boss 302. Ford eventually sold the Mustang in 1971 as program vehicle (see "The Lost Boss" in the February 2008 Mustang Monthly, or search for the story on the website at www.mustangmonthly.com).
Two Millionth Hardtop
On May 24, 1968, at the Dearborn assembly plant, Ford rolled out the red carpet for a Candyapple Red '68 Mustang hardtop, which was celebrated as the 2 Millionth Mustang. For years, it was unknown what happened to this car. Recently, it was learned that the car was given away at the National Council of Mustang Club's 1968 Mustang National Round-Up in San Francisco, California, Won by Southern Arizona Mustang Club members Margarette and Bill Forrester, the car's location is unknown today. We don't even know if it survives. Kevin Marti did extensive research to determine the 2 Millionth Mustang's vehicle identification number without success. His research continues.
1983 Mustang GT Turbo
Many will tell you that the 1983 Mustang GT Turbo does not exist. However, Ford sold 604 of them, according to www.mustanggt.org, which is a great website for those interested in 1982-1983 Mustang GTs. All 604 turbo cars were hatchbacks produced at the end of the 1983 model year. The GT Turbo continued as a rare option into 1984 with 412 convertibles and 3,386 hatchbacks sold. (It is important to understand the difference between numbers sold and numbers built. They are rarely the same number and challenging to confirm because true numbers are confidential according to a trusted Ford insider).
Henry Ford II's Hi-Po
The first production 289 High Performance Mustang is definitely a one-of-a-kind. The story continues in 1977 when Detroiter and retired Ford engineer Art Cairo spotted a newspaper ad for a 1965 Mustang "once owned by the Ford family." Asking price: $750. He saw the car, heard the engine, and couldn't pass it up. It was unique with all-leather interior, lots of bling, plush carpeting, real teakwood appointments, and leather top. When he spotted the car's early VIN, 5F07K100148, it was a done deal. At the time, Art used it as an occasional weekend driver. But when his brother blew the engine, Art rebuilt the Hi-Po and tucked the black hardtop in his garage.
For years, Art assumed the car had belonged to Edsel Ford II, based on a 1965 owner's manual found in the glove compartment. A 1983 conversation with Edsel revealed that the hardtop was a one-of-a-kind build for his father, Henry Ford II. Although it is easy to assume this car was owned by HFII, it actually belonged to Ford Motor Company and was an executive vehicle custom-built for his use before being sold on Ford's Employee Resale Lot in Dearborn. The low consecutive unit number and a date code of "05C" confirms this car's status as a pre-production unit.
A few years ago, Rustbusters in Redford, Michigan, restored the car. With a faithful full-scale restoration behind it, Henry Ford II's Mustang is ready for its 50th birthday in 2014.
Numeric Engine Codes
Although it's unlikely you will ever see a classic Mustang in the United States with a numeric engine code, they do exist and were primarily export vehicles. Numeric Ford engine codes were low compression export engines built to run on low octane fuels. Instead of 7F01C123456, you would see 7F013123456 for a low compression 289-2V V-8. Keep in mind the "3" looks a lot like an "8" and is easily mistaken.
Examples of low compression engine codes are:
Low compression production export engines get their compression ratio from dished pistons, which increase cylinder and chamber volume above the piston, resulting in a lower compression ratio.
|Model Year||Engine||Engine Code|
1965 Bertone Mustang
One of the greatest Mustang mysteries of all time is the one-off Bertone Mustang, which was a styling exercise born out of Automobile Quarterly's L. Scott Bailey's imagination. Bailey was of the belief that Ford and Italian coachbuilder Bertone should get together to make the Mustang an Italian stallion. The Bertone Mustang was a smashing success at the 1965 New York Auto Show. After that, the car vanished and hasn't been seen since. There are plenty of rumors, but nothing solid except to say that the car's whereabouts are known by a select few and no one's talking. However, we can tell you the Bertone Mustang started out as an early 1965 Mustang Hi-Po fastback—5F09K275716—which would have been assembled around the end of August 1964 at Dearborn.
Hands on the Hood!
Imagine it's the early 1980s and you're searching a Pennsylvania salvage yard for used Mustang parts, only to stumble upon the following Ford warranty plate on the driver's door of a black 1965 Hi-Po convertible: VIN, 5R08K100127; Body, 76C; Color, A; Trim, blank; Date, 09K; DSO, 83; Axle, 5; Trans, 5.
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Turns out, the K-code Mustang was a San Jose unit with a U.S. Government DSO code. It was one of the first orders for the San Jose. California, assembly plant, yet it wasn't scheduled for completion until October 1964. Though technically a '64½, it wasn't because it was alternator equipped. Based on the correspondence received nearly 30 years ago, it was an FBI car, yet no one knows the purpose, making it one of the oddest Mustang orders we've ever seen.
1965 GT Fastback Turned 1966
Our imagination runs wild with this 1965 GT fastback because it is surely an oddity, discovered through Ford publicity photographs from the time period. The VIN began with "5F09K" on the inner fender, yet it was fitted with a 1966 GT grille with fog lamps. It was also equipped with prototype three-element taillights and a pop-open gas cap that never made production. Under the hood was a 1965-style black 289 High Performance. In the trunk, a 1965 styled steel wheel. The most obvious oddity was color — Caspian Blue instead of the darker Nightmist Blue for 1966. This Mustang was apparently a styling mule used for promotional purposes.
1969 Mustang Limited Edition 600
The 1969 Mustang Limited Edition 600 was a Philadelphia sales district promotion designed to increase showroom traffic and sell more Mustangs in the spring of 1969. Available in Flower Power Red and Groovy Green, the Limited Edition 600 Mustang was available only with the 200 and 250ci sixes as SportsRoof or hardtop. None will have a color code except on the body buck tag. All were assembled at the Metuchen, New Jersey assembly plant. Date codes are between April 21 and 29, 1969. According to www.limited600mustang.net, all Limited Edition 600 Mustangs have six-digit DSO codes: 162783, 162784, 162785, 162786, 162787, 162788.
The Limited Edition 600 Mustangs were fitted with the Sports Appearance Group, which included a hood scoop with turn indicators, full wheel covers, E78 x 14 white sidewall tires, chrome remote driver's mirror, AM radio, Limited Edition 600 fender decals, and special tape stripes. Ford planned 600 units for this promotion but sold just 503.
Caspian Blue, Red Interior
We haven't seen this car since the 1980s, but its existence is worthy of note. Back in 1981, we received a letter from Randal Stone of Greensboro, North Carolina, who wanted to tell us about his Caspian Blue 1965 Mustang convertible—5F08T761678—with a scheduled build date of 16T (June 16, 1965) and an export DSO code of 91, yet it was never exported. Ordered by a government official of a foreign country based here in the United States, the car never left the country. What makes it odd is the red vinyl standard interior with the blue exterior. Randal sold the car years ago. Its whereabouts today is unknown.
Last Dearborn Mustang
Who could forget the last Mustang to roll out of the Dearborn assembly plant? Just before Mustang assembly switched to the new Auto Alliance assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, we had the good fortune of following this car down the line as it was built. With a rotation number of #2945 and a VIN of 242598, "Dearborn Last" in Redfire Clearcoat was ordered by Ford so it could be enshrined at the Ford Visitor's Center in Dearborn. The last Dearborn Mustang was a red GT convertible with all the trimmings, yet a regular production car carefully scheduled into the end of production. On Monday, May 10, 2004, it was over for the plant that had built Mustangs since March 1964.
Cobra Jet Grande
A 428 Cobra Jet isn't an engine you would associate with luxury, but more for NHRA Super Stock competition. Yet there were plush Mustang Grandes ordered with this engine. Nelson Cardadeiro stumbled upon one such ride on a used car lot, a Lime Gold Metallic 1969 Grande hardtop that, on the surface, looked as vanilla as they come. When he spotted at the Q-code CJ VIN at the base of the windshield, he flipped and plunked down the cash for one of only 37 1969 Grandes with the 428 Cobra Jet engine.
Pretty in Pink
A few years back, Houston's Horace Collums stumbled upon a Playboy Pink 1967 Mustang hardtop in the Pacific Northwest. Although pink Mustang hardtops weren't very common, you could find one if you wanted it badly enough. You could even create one for yourself or your significant other. Horace's non-GT Playboy Pink hardtop is equipped with a 390 High Performance V-8 and Parchment Interior Décor Group. Assembled in November of 1966 at Ford's San Jose assembly plant, the hardtop looks as though it was dipped in thick strawberry cream, making us lust for one of these if we could find one.
First 1967 G.T. 500
It was Kevin Marti of Marti Auto Works who confirmed this G.T. 500's status as the first 1967 Shelby G.T. 500 for owner Eric Johnson. Eric has owned this G.T. 500, Shelby VIN 67411F9A0100, since the late 1970s when he graduated from high school. Shown here is an image of #0100 when it arrived at Shelby American from Ford's San Jose plant in Lime Gold Metallic. It was swiftly converted into a G.T. 500 and photographed for Shelby's 1967 advertising campaign. Today, it is Candyapple Red, which it has been since Eric bought the car 35 years ago for the whopping sum of $8,500.
Rob Walker's 1966 Hi-Po T-5 hardtop in Raven Black may not be considered odd by some, but the 95 DSO code isn't something you see every day. Although Rob's T-5 was scheduled for assembly on July 8, it was ultimately assembled on July 21, weeks behind schedule; revealed by the "G21" date code.
Kicked to the Curb
Back in the 1980s during a visit to Gelsi's Mustang World in Vineland, New Jersey, we were walking the company salvage yard when we discovered a Mustang door with a warranty plate that stated, "Salvage Vehicle, No-Warranty." The vehicle was a 1965 Mustang assembled at Metuchen, New Jersey — 5T01C147413, 65A, 5, 2G, 03R, 22, 6, 1. How this door got into circulation is anyone's guess. This is the only Salvage Vehicle warranty plate we've ever seen.
In 40 years of tinkering with classic Mustangs, we've seen our share of factory assembly errors, including mis-stamps where the inner fender VIN doesn't match the door warranty plate or certification sticker. Sometimes it's a body serial or engine code that doesn't match. And there are times when the entire VIN doesn't match. A significant difference usually means a replacement door. Here's one example from a lifetime of many—5R07T232678; which was stamped out and then corrected to 5R07C232423. This is clearly a factory mis-stamp, although you might have a hard time convincing law enforcement.
1968 W-code 427
No matter how many times this story has been told, it simply isn't true according to Kevin Marti. Although Ford promoted the optional 427 big-block in sales literature and mentions it in the Shop Manual, a 1968 Mustang with the 427 was never built at the factory. There may be some dealer installed 427s, but no W-code units.
Hi-Po No Go
There was never a 289 High Performance V-8 installed in a 1968 Mustang nor was there ever a 302 High Performance. The only 302 High Performance engine for 1968 was the race-only 302 Tunnel Port with a four-bolt main block and tunnel port heads. The Tunnel Port competed in Trans-Am in 1968 although it was not successful. We have seen images from two readers with "K" vehicle identification numbers in 1968 Mustangs. They were obviously mis-stamps.