Ford created the '79 Mustang Daytona concept in the fall of 1978. Built at the Dearborn Assembly Plant on November 7, 1978, the hatchback soon found its way to Cars and Concepts in Brighton, Michigan, where it was transformed into the Daytona with T-tops and other special styling equipment.
Built as a one-of-a-kind show car, the Daytona started life as one of the first new-generation Fox-bodies. It was displayed at the New York, Chicago, and Detroit auto shows and also served as a pace car at Daytona road course events. When its show-duty was done, the Mustang Daytona concept resided at the Henry Ford Museum, tucked out of sight in a storage area for more than two decades before being sold to a private individual when the museum reduced inventory.
Originally, Ford planned to build five Daytonas but this is the only one completed with the full custom treatment. Two others are in Jack Roush's collection and not drivable. Another was used by Ford as a prototype and destroyed. The whereabouts of the fifth one is unknown. This surviving Daytona has a T-top that was not in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, so it was likely destined for the crusher but escaped.
Today, the Mustang Daytona is in the possession of second owner Roger Ferns, who retired from Ford in 1994 after 30 years of service. In June 2003, Ferns found the car and purchased it from the first owner, a local man from Birmingham, Michigan.
Mechanically, the Daytona was pretty much like every other V-8 Mustang in '79. It has the original 5.0-liter under the hood with air conditioning and four-speed transmission. What sets the Daytona apart is its looks. The appearance is unique and elegant with a subtle touch of class.
The modified front end includes a one-piece smoked panel to hide the '79 Lincoln Versailles headlights. The rear taillight panel has a full-width smoked plastic appliqué with "Ford Mustang" etched into it. Originally painted in Vivid Red-Orange Metallic, the exterior was treated to a base and clear-coat finish in 2005.
Cars and Concepts installed the T-tops. The A-pillar, drip rail, and quarter-panel moldings received a chrome finish as did the smoked headlight and taillight appliqué panels. The interior features medium tan leather for the headliner, instrument panel crash pad, steering wheel, door panels, and seats, which are buckets for both front and rear. You'll also find a console that stretches between the rear bucket seats, along with a pair of sun visors for rear seat occupants.
The instrument panel, passenger-side appliqué, and door panel inserts are finished in smoked plastic. The word "Daytona" is spelled out on the right side instrument panel appliqué in gold lettering.
The Mustang Daytona was originally fitted with a set of Borrani classic wire wheels with simulated knock-offs and Pirelli P235/60 VR15 Cinturato tires. Due to the extended time in storage, the tires flat-spotted so Ferns replaced the rolling stock with a set of vintage-style Ansen wheels with BF Goodrich radial tires.
Since purchasing the car, Ferns has enjoyed showing the car at Michigan events, taking best in class honors at the 2011 and 2012 Detroit Autoramas. He bought the Daytona with 732 miles; today, the odometer shows more than 20,000, proof a-plenty that it survives as a rolling history project to be appreciated by Mustang lovers.