Jeff Huneycutt
March 30, 2012

Quick quiz: In 1969, NASCAR legend Richard Petty won 10 out of 54 races driving what car?

OK, given that the title of the magazine you're reading is 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords, you probably saw through the trick question. But most people are surprised to learn that Richard, who was famous for driving Plymouths, and later Pontiacs before retiring from the driver's seat in 1992, ever drove for the Blue Oval.

Petty Enterprises made the switch for the '69 season after the suits at Chrysler refused to allow the organization to switch from Plymouths to Dodges even though the boxy Plymouth bodies weren't competitive at superspeedway races. The aerodynamic shape of the Torino combined with Ford's engine technology helped Richard win his first race with the manufacturer and wound up finishing second overall in the point standings.

By 1970, Petty Enterprises had returned to the Plymouth nameplate, but Ford and the man known as The King would again team up beginning in the '10 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. That partnership continues to this day.

So it only makes sense that when Richard Petty founded Petty's Garage speed shop out of his famous race shops in Level Cross, North Carolina, that he would eventually put his mark on Fords once again. Petty's Garage started the Signature Series with a short production of Dodge Challengers in 2010. Next up will be a limited run of 50 Signature Series Ford Mustangs. And what you see here is the first model completed.

Based on a '12 Ford Mustang GT, the Petty Series Mustangs feature a unique mixture of performance upgrades with unique NASCAR-influenced styling. The car was delivered to the Petty's Garage shops brand new, and the crew immediately set to work blasting it into its individual components.

The car was completely repainted from black to the famous Petty Blue, which first debuted on a Petty Enterprises race car in 1959. Back then the famous light blue came to be because, as the story goes, there was some white paint in the shop and some blue but not enough of either to paint a complete car. Always the pragmatists, bothers Richard and Maurice Petty simply blended the two colors to get enough paint and finish the car so that they could race. This time around, however, the unique shade of blue is produced by BASF in a water-borne formulation that not only lays down evenly and looks great, but it is also better for the environment (and painters' lungs) than old school solvent-based paints.

This is just one of a handful of striping-pattern options penned by Murray Pfaff for the Signature Series Mustangs. And while the first car is appropriately blue, Petty's Garage General Manager Greg Steadman predicts that most of the Signature Series cars leaving the shop will be black—which is also The King's favorite color when it comes to his personal street machines.

But the most eye-catching feature is probably the Richard Petty signature that rides along the Mustang's haunches. This is no fake signature chosen from a script font on a computer and cut out of vinyl. Instead, this is Richard Petty's famous signature that he's signed many thousands of times for fans across the world. The signature was digitized and transferred to a mask so it could be painted on the car and then clearcoated. It is definitely a love-it or hate-it type of feature, and Steadman believes most customers will choose a more traditional route without the signature, but it is definitely an eye-catcher.