Jerry Heasley
January 18, 2014

The blue ’66 GT fastback with red stripes really stood out in the Hi-Po display during the 2013 Ford Nationals at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. But was this car stock? The hood was open and the 289 High Performance engine sure looked original. Checking the VIN on the inner fender apron, the “K” stood out boldly as the fifth digit of the VIN. This car appeared legit.

However, in my recollection, red stripes were only available with black, white, or silver ’66 Mustangs. Otherwise, the GT stripes had to be either white or black for the remaining exterior colors.

After a few minutes, the owner, Keith Cannon from Thomasville, North Carolina, came over to explain. “That’s the way the original owner ordered the car,” Cannon said.

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Keith opened the driver’s door to show me the data plate. The paint code was blank, indicating special order paint. Also, the 36 DSO (for Louisville, Kentucky) was followed by four digits, 0123, another indication of a special order delivery.

Cannon then opened a notebook about an inch and a half thick with documentation, including receipts back to the 1980s and the name of the previous six owners, stretching back to the original owner who ordered the car new.

Although Cannon did not yet have the build sheet (but he had a lead) and there was no tag under the hood with a special order paint code (as we’ve seen on some early Mustangs), he verified the original Sapphire Blue color in two ways. First, a previous owner had stripped the car and found three different coats of paint—blue, gold, and finally the original Sapphire Blue. Second, Cannon contacted the original owner, who explained that he had special ordered his ’66 Mustang fastback with Sapphire Blue paint and red GT stripes. Other factory options included the Deluxe “Pony” interior, AM/FM eight-track, console, four-speed transmission, Styled Steel wheels, and Rally-Pac.

As I admired the color combination and marveled at the factory stock condition, Cannon mentioned that the bullet mirrors were also original, as verified by the original owner. Apparently, the dealer had added them. Cannon said he had a feeling that the original owner was following what Shelby was doing with the G.T. 350. Shelby American installed the same bullet-style mirrors on their Mustang fastbacks. The difference is this owner specified both left- and right-side mirrors, while Shelby installed only the driver’s side.

Now the Sapphire Blue special order paint made sense. Shelby American, in fact, used this same paint, which was actually a Thunderbird color (Carroll Shelby drove a new Thunderbird in those days). Sapphire Blue is lighter and showier than the blues on the ’66 Mustang order sheet. In those days, Ford would paint a Mustang any color the owner wanted as long as they paid the extra cost.

What really makes this Sapphire Blue GT so stunning is the red side stripes. The contrast between blue and red is very strong. The colors also inspire the savviest Mustang veterans to inquire about the originality.

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Cannon ran across this GT in 2005 while tracking down another K-code GT fastback. However, it was sold by the time he got to the car. “The seller said, ‘By the way, I just got this car’ and pointed to a blue GT fastback with K-code 289,” Cannon explained. The engine had recently been rebuilt, but the paint was cracking and the upholstery was old. Cannon did a little research and investigated the history before he bought the car.

Finally, the special paint K-GT fastback was in the hands of a true enthusiast who found “joy” in hunting those ultra-scarce Hi-Po parts, talking to people along the way, and having fun on his journey to return the Hi-Po to concours condition. And taking great care to return the paint to the original Sapphire Blue with red GT stripes.

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