The Mustang Monthly Archives
October 12, 2012

Ford's new Mustang had barely reached dealer showrooms in 1964 when Ford produced the first special edition. And there was good reason. The Indianapolis 500 had chosen the '65 Mustang as its pace car and Ford's marketing department wanted to take advantage of the honor and resulting promotional opportunities. Thus the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Mustang became the first of what would become a long line of special Mustangs created to spur sales.

The number of Mustang special editions peaked during the '67-'68 model years. With Camaro and Firebird arriving in '67, Ford no longer had the lucrative market cornered, so special editions were created to encourage sales in the springtime or to celebrate an event that Ford felt they could leverage to generate traffic in the showroom. The main idea was to create excitement so potential buyers would come down to their local Ford dealer to see what the buzz was about. Didn't care for what was on the lot? Then the salesman would be happy to order the car you wanted, or better yet, up-sell you to a more profitable car.

Many of these specials were uniquely equipped, specially colored and badged, and even personalized to the buyer with special dash plaques, all at a value-added price. Most were advertised as limited editions to imply that only a few people would have the opportunity to own one. Some were national promotions, like the Sprints and Grabbers, while others were regional specials like the High Country Special and Lone Star Limited. Some dealers got in on the act by putting together their own specials, all to capture that sometimes elusive sale.

Special edition Mustangs were not limited to the 1960s. Ford has continued to create special edition Mustangs through the years, like the Mystichrome Cobra, Bullitt GT, and Warriors in Pink Mustang, with more to come.

Included here are descriptions and facts about the '65-'72 Mustang special editions. We're limiting our discussion to Mustangs that were created specifically to spur sales. Cars like Shelby, Boss, Mach 1, and Grande were certainly special in their own right, but they were regular production models.

There were other dealer limited editions such as the '66 Silver Mink Mustang in Ohio and the Players Special in Canada, the '67 Palomino Mustang in Milwaukee, and the '68 Colt in Philadelphia, but those were limited to the specific dealer or a sweepstakes give-away and were not endorsed or supported by Ford. There may be other regional or dealer special editions out that there are yet to be discovered.

'65 Indy Pace Car Replica

To celebrate the '65 Mustang's selection as the 1965 Indianapolis 500 pace car, somewhere between 180 and 200 replica hardtops were produced for a nationwide dealer sales competition. The Pace Car replicas were delivered in a special Pace Car White (color code C), with white and blue interiors. The cars were equipped with the 260 V-8 engine, power steering, back-up lights, and automatic transmissions. Other identifying features include blue racing stripes over the top of the car and "Official Pace Car" decals on the sides. Initially, 180 cars were created to be part of a dealer incentive sales contest where dealers with the top sales would receive a car. Due to ties, another 10 to 20 cars were produced. The VINs of each group are sequentially numbered, but the DSOs reflect the dealerships where they were delivered. The first group was built in April; the extras were built in May and given a DSO of 84 for the home office.

Thirty-five festival convertibles were also prepared for dignitaries and to parade Indy 500 beauty queens during the pre-race ceremonies.

'66 Sprint 200

By the Mustang's second birthday in April 1966, Ford had sold over one million Mustangs and decided to advertise the occasion nationally by offering a special model. Beginning with a standard 200ci six-cylinder coupe, convertible, or fastback, Ford added many popular Mustang options to the Sprint 200: automatic transmission, console, wire wheel covers, and rocker panel moldings. The unique identifier was the deleted side scoop trim and pinstripes along the Mustang character line, all topped off with a chrome-plated "Sprint 200" air cleaner. The Sprint 200 Mustangs were promoted as both "Millionth Mustang Success Celebration Editions" or "Spring Sprints." The Sprint was produced from March until the end of the 1966 model year. It is not known how many were built, although the huge advertizing blitz hints that sales were strong.

'66 One Millionth Anniversary Gold Special

To further celebrate the one million mark, the Anniversary Gold Mustang was created in March 1966. It is believed that there were less than 50 of these hardtops produced at the San Jose assembly plant, all with special order gold paint and black deluxe "Pony" interiors. They have a common DSO of 331111 and March 29 build date. It is not known how these Mustangs were distributed or exactly why they were produced, possibly as part of a dealer sales competition.

'66-'68 High Country Special

The '66 High Country Special was one of the first regional specials, with Denver area Ford dealers creating a promotion that included Mustang hardtops and convertibles in three special colors: Timberline Green, Columbine Blue, and Aspen Gold. All came with brass fender badges that dealers were free to mount wherever they wanted. Sold in Colorado, Wyoming, and parts of Nebraska, only 333 were produced for the '66 model year.

Returning for its second year, the '67 High Country Special was offered as a hardtop, convertible, or fastback, again in special colors of Timberline Green, Columbine Blue, and Aspen Gold. Based on the Sports Sprint package, they came with brass fender badges similar to the '66 edition but with "'67" added. Four hundred of these special-colored cars were to be available but fewer than that were actually delivered.

For '68, the High Country Special was an off-shoot of California's GT/CS project, differing only by the High Country Special badging on the side scoops. Otherwise, the HCS got the California Special treatment with louvered hood, fog lamps, side scoops, Shelby taillights, and integral rear spoiler. Like the GT/CS, it was available with any engine and color combination, unlike the previous models that were limited to special colors. It has been confirmed that 251 HCS Mustangs were built for '68.

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