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High Country Specials Ford Mustang - Rocky Mountain Highs
The High Country Special Mustangs Blanketed The Western States With Special Colors And A California Special Look-Alike
Offered during the '66-'68 model years and available at 100 Ford dealers in the Colorado, Wyoming, and Western Nebraska regions, the High Country Specials were among the first of the promotional Mustangs created to enhance sales. For the first two years, the HCS Mustangs were set apart by their unique colors, while the '68s borrowed heavily from the Shelby-like California Special styling.
In 1966 and 1967, High Country Specials were available in all three body styles, all painted with one of three promotional colors: Aspen Gold, Timberline Green, and Columbine Blue. The front fenders sported a brass badge featuring a running horse in a blue-sky background over a mountain horizon and the words "High Country Special." A delete-paint-code number on the data plate and a DSO of 51 for Denver, followed by a four-digit code, identified a Mustang as a High Country Special. Bob Teets, the recognized expert on High Country Specials and keeper of the registry for these rare Mustangs, suspects the four-digit code represented a dealer number designating a group for a certain dealership.
Teets has updated the production figure for the '66 High Country Special from 330 to 333, based largely on publications he has uncovered. A Denver Post advertisement dated July 26, 1966, mentioned, "Only 333 people in the entire United States will be driving one of these High Country Specials." In August 1966, a Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad publication called Green Light reported, "333 of them rode flanged wheels of steel across the Rio Grande on July 18 from Salt Lake City to Denver, the first full trainload of sports cars to move as a single shipment across the system."
The production figure for '67 High Country Specials now stands at 416, thanks to Kevin Marti's production database for Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury cars and trucks built from 1967 to 1973. Teets believes that other documentation, such as a Rocky Mountain News advertisement stating "This special emblem marks your Mustang as one of the 400," was close, but not as accurate as Marti's Ford-based figure.
For 1968, the High Country Specials were nearly identical to the more widely recognized California Specials, including the nonfunctional fiberglass side scoops on the rear quarter-panels, a fiberglass decklid and quarter-panel caps that formed an integral spoiler similar to the '68 Shelby, Mustang script lettering in the upper right corner of the spoiler, a fiberglass rear panel with Shelby taillights, and a pop-open gas cap. The side stripes were centered from the leading edge of the front fender to the rear edge of the side scoop. Special stripes also accented the unique integral spoiler formed by the fiberglass rear decklid and quarter-panel caps.
The '68's triangular decal was originally designed as part of the striping on the fiberglass side scoop. Teets reports some HCS Mustangs never received this extra piece of stripe on the side scoop. The standard Mustang chrome running horse and corral were deleted from the front grille, and Lucas fog lamps were mounted on both sides of the grille opening. The standard turn-signal hood fastened with twist-type hood locks. Special promotional paint was not part of the '68 High Country Special, but all had a DSO of 51 for Denver.
When Tony Popish, founder of the Special Order Paint Registry for '64 1/2-'73 Mustangs, ran across a program from Continental Divide Raceway, where Denver-area Ford dealers premiered the '68 High Country Special, he immediately routed it to his friend, Teets. The program stated, "Today you are getting the first public look at the exciting new High Country Special '68 featured in the drivers parade lap and on display. Only 250 will be built. Inspired by Shelby GT ... but priced like a Mustang."