Jim Smart
February 1, 2009

Ford T-5s have long been topics of legend and folklore, prompting us to ask, "What's with the T-5 badges?" It has been through the diligent efforts of Gary Hanson that we know anything about them at all.

Gary's fascination with Ford T-5s began in 1977 when he bought a '65 Mustang fastback with T-5 front fender badges. When Gary contacted Ford about his unusual find, he was referred to Ford's export division where he received valuable insight. The biggest nugget came when Gary made contact with Wolfgang Kohrn of the First Mustang Club of Germany. Through Wolfgang, Gary learned that "T-5" was a designation assigned to all Mustangs exported to Germany.

"T-5" was originally the Mustang's project code at Ford, and that's all it would have ever been had it not been for a trademark conflict in Germany. Two German companies, Krupp and Kreidler, owned the rights to the Mustang name. According to Wolfgang, Krupp made Mustang trucks while Kreidler manufactured Mustang motorcycles. Instead of a $10,000 fee for the right to use the Mustang name in Germany, Ford chose to designate German export Mustangs as T-5s. All '65-'78 Mustangs marketed in Germany were sold as Ford T-5s. The Mustang name doesn't appear anywhere on the vehicle.

T-5s were different not only in name but also in how they were equipped per German motor vehicle regulations. According to the First Mustang Club of Germany, there had to be an anti-theft locking device on the steering column. Sealed beam headlights, common in North America, were not legal in Germany. Parking lamps and turn indicators had to be different. High-beam indicators had to be blue instead of red. The taillamps were modified to German motor vehicle regulations. Some T-5s got metric speedometers, although many that returned to the United States with military personnel were converted to miles-per-hour. Keep in mind that not all T-5s got these modifications because much depended on the relationship between a dealer and German authorities.

Although Ford built thousands of T-5s for German export, not all of them returned with military personnel, which makes them an unusual sight in the U.S. You can imagine Rob Walker's reaction to this K-code '66 T-5 hardtop, discovered when he was shopping for a '65-'66 Mustang fastback. He was at a car show when he spotted a fastback and asked owner Bob Rawlings if he'd be interested in selling. Bob declined, but asked Rob if he'd be interested in a T-5. It was a hardtop, but it had the right credentials- repainted red but originally Raven Black with a matching number 289 Hi-Po engine, a four-speed, a 9-inch rearend with 3.50:1 peg-leg differential, and a kilometer speedometer in the trunk. Rob saw great potential in the car and laid down the cash.

When Rob got the T-5 home, he meticulously disassembled the car in preparation for a restoration to original. When he removed the glovebox, he found the T-5's broadcast sheet (also called a buildsheet), which confirmed the car's status. There were aspects of the restoration that Rob knew not to tackle himself, including bodywork and paint, upholstery, and driveline.

Rob rebuilt the 289 High Performance himself using original equipment pieces. For induction, he unearthed an original over-the-counter Ford dual-quad setup with its numbers-correct Holley carburetors largely intact. Also on board was the correct linkage and fuel rail along with hard-to-find Hellings & Stellings air cleaners.

On the ground, Rob's T-5 is a handler because it was fitted with stiffer export spring rates for rural European roads. An export brace was also installed on these cars underhood to stiffen the unibody package. Front disc brakes yield a big improvement in stopping power. We like the black steel wheels and Redline tires with their all-business persona. Inside, Rob's T-5 is also all business with a Parchment standard interior, Rally-Pac, five-dial instrumentation, deluxe seatbelts, and factory four-speed shifter.

Rob credits previous owner Bob Rawlings and Craig Benefield for help with his T-5 restoration. And that's what makes our passion for these cars tick. We can get excited over the smell of unburned hydrocarbons and the roar of a vintage small-block Ford V-8. However, were it not for the good company we so often share, Rob's search for a fastback may never have proved as fruitful as this K-code T-5 hardtop.