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This 1967 Mustang 390-GT Coupe Hides Mysteries
A 2 + 2 that equals 4 oddities
Jason White was more than a little excited when a friend, Layne Barnes, found, within a few blocks of White’s shop, a pair of 1967 Mustangs in an old building in Hereford, Texas. One Mustang was a coupe. The other was a fastback.
The Mustangs had been parked, side-by-side, in this same spot since 1981. The coupe had been hit in the passenger side rear quarter. The fastback was minus its original engine and needed just about everything. The pair of 1967’s might not have looked like much to the unwashed masses, but both were mostly rust free and both came from the factory equipped with the 320-horsepower 390, “S” code big block V8. Ford called these engines by the term “Thunderbird Special,” which added $150.08 over the $105.63 extra cost of a 289 two barrel in the base Mustang. Of course, in the sizzling sixties, $255.71 bought a lot more goods than today.
Barnes original goal was to buy the building. He was surprised and elated when the seller, now out of storage space, sealed the deal by tossing in both Mustangs. Barnes transported the dynamic duo to his large garage at home. He took particular interest in the fastback, but like White became curious how rare a ’67 coupe was with a big block 390.
A Marti Report revealed Ford built 2,932 coupes for 1967 “with these engine/transmission codes,” referring to the 390 with 4-speed. Marti’s book, “Mustang … by the Numbers (1967-1973) reveals additional breakdowns of 543 and 4,403 of the 390-powered coupes built with 3-speed manual and automatic transmission, respectively. So, total 390-coupe production equaled 7,878 for 1967, compared to 12,135 fastbacks, and 2,181 convertibles.
White particularly likes 1968 Mustangs among the first generation classics, but the ’67 is virtually the same body style, so he kept in touch with Barnes who is also a client. Barnes mulled over the idea of building an Eleanor-style ’68 in the coupe body style. White, of course would do the work, but was more motivated to restore this coupe as a rarity and the first Mustang big block muscle car. Finally, after two years of ownership, Barnes agreed to sell White the 390-GT, whereupon he began a stock restoration.
Originally sold at a Ford dealership in Plainview, Texas and having spent its entire life in the arid climate of the Texas Panhandle explained the rust free body. A minor wreck (passenger side quarter panel) put the car out of commission for over 30 years. Apparently, the coupe had been stored awaiting bodywork and fresh paint. For reasons unknown, the work never got done and the owner eventually abandoned his wounded ’67.
White looked at the Marti Report to find this 2 + 2 did not list 4 components present on the car - Tilt-Away Steering Column, Deluxe steering wheel, in-dash tachometer, and clock. Somebody could have added a Deluxe wheel. However, the Tilt-Away Column’s vacuum canister hidden under the battery tray “still had factory undercoating and looked like it had never been off from the factory.” Likewise, Jason White feels like Ford’s assembly plant also installed the in-dash tachometer and clock, and said, “They way they are wired, if someone did add the tach and clock they would have had to pull the harness from another car, which I don’t see happening at that particular time [prior to 1981]. Both the tach and clock still worked.”
So, Jason restored the car with Tilt-Away, Deluxe wheel, and the clock and tach, which are factory pieces. They go nicely with the GT Equipment Group, which consisted of fog lamps in the grille, special GT ornamentation, power disc brakes, F-70 x 14 Wide-Oval WSW tires, HD Suspension, GT stripes, and bright quad exhaust extensions on the 390.
Further backing up this car’s untouched state was the originality of the engine. White was pretty positive the 390 had never been overhauled or out of the chassis. He pulled the 390 to discover a “partial VIN stamp” on the top rear of the block. The stamped numbers matched the last six digits of the chassis VIN, which is proof this exact 390 block came in this 1967 Mustang.
The missing factory Holley four-barrel carburetor proved easy to replace. Jason found on EBay a Holley with the “right date code and part number.” He sent the carburetor to Holley for a rebuild. The rest of the engine was intact.
White added a set of Styled Steel wheels. The original order in 1967 specified a set of “wheel covers,” at a cost of $21.34. Jason figures the original owners added their own set of mag’s right after they took delivery of this 390-GT.
The 390 was a good deal in 1967, offering so much more low rpm torque at half the price of the former hottest V8 of the Mustang lineup, the 289 “Hi-Po.” Production figures for the Hi-Po plummeted for ’67 to a total of 489, according to Marti’s aforementioned book, while the 390 became the hottest engine option in the Mustang lineup (except for the Shelby, of course).
White’s restoration stirred members of the local Mustang club in Amarillo, Texas to award him a Best Of Show trophy for his 1967 390-GT coupe.