Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 3, 2014
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

For its first two model years, Mustang had the new pony car market to itself, selling nearly 1.3 million cars during '65-'66. Chevrolet finally got its act together for '67 with the Camaro, which, as a new model, landed the coveted marketing exposure as the pace car for the 1967 Indianapolis 500. To counter the Camaro's publicity in the Indianapolis area, Ford masterminded a special Indy Pacesetter Mustang hardtop, promoting it as a springtime "Pacesetter Sale" to emphasize the fact that Mustang sales continued to "set the pace" for the new pony car segment.

For years, we've seen Ford's black-and-white studio photos—a Mustang hardtop with side stripes, louvered rear panel, and sign identifying the model as an "Indy Pacesetter Special." Except we had never seen a real one—until now.

Pennsylvania's Fran Cosentino is fascinated by special edition Mustangs, having assembled a small yet diverse collection with his '67 Branded hardtop (see "Brand Marketing" in the December 2012 issue), '97 Woodward Dream Cruise Edition GT, and '08 Bullitt. Four years ago, he spotted a '67 Indy Pacesetter for sale on eBay.

"I knew they existed thanks to Don Hughmanick's special edition website, www.limited600mustang.net." Cosentino says. "The Pacesetter on eBay was a nice Oklahoma driver with original paperwork and pictures when it was new. The price was right, so I bought it. I had no idea what was correct for the car but I like getting to the bottom of a good Mustang mystery."

Cosentino's research turned up several spring 1967 newspaper ads from Indiana Ford dealers, which revealed that the Indy Pacesetters were a package deal, all Wimbledon White hardtops with blue standard interior. In addition to regular Mustang options like the louvered hood and rocker panel molding, the Pacesetters also had unique Scotchlite reflective blue side stripes and rear panel grille inserts. A chrome "Sprint" air cleaner lid, pop-open gas cap, and full wheel covers were also part of the deal (see "Pacesetter Equipment" sidebar for the full list) that retailed for $2,360, according to one dealer ad.

Thanks to Kevin Marti's Ford production database, we've also learned that Ford built only 324 Indy Pacesetter Mustangs in the spring of 1967. A few were intended for marketing purposes; the rest were ordered by a dozen or so Ford dealerships near Indianapolis. They were mostly identical with no additional equipment choices other than engine, transmission, and power steering. The majority, 231, were equipped with the 289 two-barrel V-8; 93 were six-cylinders. Transmission choice was limited to three-speed manual or automatic. Half were optioned with power steering. None came with air-conditioning.

The sales invoice with Cosentino's Pacesetter paperwork reveals that it was purchased new on June 9, 1967, by John Morgan from Ossian, Indiana. Like four other identically equipped Pacesetters sold at Allen County Motors in Fort Wayne, it came with the C-code 289, automatic, power steering, and radio delete. Before taking delivery, Morgan asked the dealership to install an AM radio and undercoating. By the time Cosentino acquired the Pacesetter, the well-used hardtop had incorrect replacement stripes and the ribbed rear panel had been painted white.

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After establishing the Pacesetter's uniqueness and rarity, Cosentino decided to send his hardtop to Russ Turack at RST Restorations for a full concours-style restoration. While Russ handled the heavy-lifting for the tear-down and rebuild, Cosentino tackled the task of tracking down information about the original Scotchlite stripes and inserts to replace the incorrect graphics on his car. "I was fortunate to find Mike Sharp, the owner of an unrestored Indy Pacesetter," Cosentino says. "He was invaluable in providing exact stripe measurements, location, and color matching for the 3M Scotchlite. Mike and George Katona at InSignOut reproduced the side stripes and tail panel inserts to the exact duplicates of what was placed on these cars by the factory over 45 years ago."

Of the 324 Pacesetters built for '67, Cosentino is aware of only four others that survive today, including Sharp's unrestored example and two that are considered "parts cars." To our knowledge, Cosentino's is the only one that has been restored.

"It's such a rare car that it needed to be done right," Cosentino explains.

1967 Indy Pacesetter Package

Wimbledon White paint
Blue standard bucket seat interior
Two-tone blue and white Scotchlite re- flective side stripes
Rear panel grille with Scotchlite reflective inserts Chrome "Sports Sprint" air cleaner and decal
Pop-open gas cap
Louvered hood with turn signals
F70x14 Wide Oval whitewall tires (V-8 only)
Rocker panel moldings
Full wheel covers
Vinyl covered shift lever