Russ Rumley unbolted the hood latch and sprayed the radiator support with paint remover. After the chemicals bubbled away the factory paint, Russ blasted the surface with water from a hose. And like magic, he could faintly read the words, "PACE CAR."
"I was pretty excited because I knew from reading articles that Ford made between 180 and 190 Pace Cars in 1964." Built as hardtop replicas of the actual pace car convertible used at the 1964 Indianapolis 500, Ford awarded the cars to Ford dealers as a 1964 sales promotion. Russ found an old picture of Lee Iacocca standing with scores of Ford dealers in front of row after row of Pace Car Mustangs. He was intrigued to think that one of those cars was the very hardtop he had just purchased.
Russ uncovered history when he removed the paint covering “PACE CAR” on the radiator suppo
Russ discovered his Rare Find in a normal fashion. The advertisement listed a '65 Mustang coupe for sale. However, Russ could tell it was a '64½ because an engine photo showed a generator. Ford switched to alternators at the beginning of the '65 model year.
Russ also noticed a white interior with blue dash and carpet. Since the exterior was white, he couldn't help wondering if he had found a Pace Car.
"I called the phone number and asked if the door tag was still in place. The owner said, ‘Well, I think it is.' I could hear him walking down the stairs to his garage."
Sure enough, the door tag was intact. The paint code was "C," unique for the "Pace Car White" in '64½. ("C" became Honey Gold for late-'65 Mustangs). Russ didn't hesitate. He jumped in his truck and drove 2½ hours to look at the Mustang. "I knew what I thought it was," he said, "so I wanted to get there first."
The white interior with blue dash pad and carpet provided clues to the hardtop’s Pace Car
When he arrived, he noticed the '64½ was wearing '66 hubcaps. The side mirrors weren't original because the Pace Cars did not come with mirrors. The only sheetmetal not original to the car was the front left fender and headlight bucket. The owner admitted, ‘Yeah, one of my girls wrecked the car in a high school parking lot."
The body, however, was mostly rust-free with a straight body still wearing Pace Car White.
To the owner, the Mustang was a generic coupe of no special heritage. His daughters drove the car to high school. When they left home, the Mustang went into storage in the family garage. Fourteen years later, the father decided to sell. He and Russ settled on a price of $4,250.
Of course, once Russ got the car home and uncovered "PACE CAR" on the radiator support, he was sure of the car's heritage. So one more of the 190 Mustang pace cars from 1964 has surfaced.