How do you impress Lee Iacocca?
That was the challenge for designer Michael Leone and world-class coachbuilders Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters as they crafted a true fastback version of the S197 Mustang with hopes that Iacocca would lend his name to the car. The fact that Iacocca had never put his name on a car made the task seem even more daunting.
After all, Lee Iacocca was responsible for some very successful vehicles during his careers at Ford and Chrysler. At Ford, he spearheaded the development and launch of the '641/2 Mustang, which earned him the title as the "Father of the Mustang." Later, during his 1970-1978 tenure as president of Ford, he oversaw the introduction of the '74 Mustang II, another right car at the right time. After his move to Chrysler in the late 1970s, Iacocca rescued the company from bankruptcy by overseeing the creation and development of the successful K-cars and mini-vans.
Leone says the idea for an Iacocca fastback came to him when he spotted a new Mustang on display at a shopping mall. "The light hit it at just the right angle and I visualized the fastback design," Leone says. "I couldn't get my hands on a piece of paper fast enough to do a sketch!"
He took the design to Iacocca, who was immediately intrigued. "Michael Leone is a smart guy," Iacocca told us. "I liked it so much that I said we'd better build this one. It really brings back the fastback. The existing Mustang looks great as a convertible but the hardtop has sort of a small coupe roof. So we restyled it as a fastback. I think it turned out beautifully."
The decision was made early to produce only 45 copies of the Iacocca Silver 45th Anniversary Edition Mustang, all based on 2009 Mustangs for what is called an '091/2 model. "It's the 45th anniversary of the Mustang so we said let's just do a limited edition run of 45," Iacocca explains. "I think that's what will give them their value. Everyone who buys one will see the value go up."
Fittingly, the "Father of the Mustang" announced the new Silver Edition Mustang on Father's Day 2009.
To build the Iacocca Silver Edition Mustang, Iacocca, Leone, and Leone's partner Denice Halicki (of "Gone In 60 Seconds" fame) created a company called I Legacy. From there, they needed someone to build the cars and someone else to sell them. "I had my idea and Mr. Iacocca had his idea," Leone says. "So we each wrote down the names on a piece of paper and handed them to each other. They were the same. We both felt that Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters should build the cars and that Galpin Ford, the largest volume Ford dealer in the world, should sell them."
Iacocca began using the Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters in the 1980s to build concept and prototype vehicles for Chrysler, describing them as "magicians with metal." Based in Fountain Valley, California, the company specializes in prototype and concept vehicles but also builds other unique projects, like a Lamborghini for Shaquille O'Neal and carbon-fiber bodies for NHRA funny cars, including the Mustang bodies for John Force.
Iacocca and Leone made numerous trips to Metalcrafters to oversee the Silver Edition Mustang project. "We were like two bugs in a rug," says Leone, who started designing cars as a kid and who later spent 10 years portraying Pete Janners in the daytime soap Days of Our Lives. "Mr. Iacocca is a hands-on guy. We were on the phone constantly, and he would stay with the car at Metalcrafters, just meditating on it. He would always speak up if he wanted to change something. His advice to us was always three words: 'Keep it simple.'"
For the production Iacocca Silver Edition Mustangs, Metalcrafters starts with standard '09 Mustang GT coupes, then adds their own design hood, fenders, front end, fastback, and rearend, all made from a special composite material from the aerospace industry. The end result is a classy, low-slung fastback, painted in a special silver paint selected by Iacocca. "It has the illusion of being lower and longer," Leone points out. "But it's the same length as a stock Mustang. We don't touch the chassis and none of the safety items are compromised."
Inside, the Iacocca Silver Edition Mustang features diamond-pleated leather seats with Iacocca embroidery, leather wrapped steering wheel with Iacocca badge, aluminum door sill plates, and a numbered dash plaque with Iacocca's signature.
To exclusively handle sales of the Silver Edition Mustang, Iacocca wanted to use his old friends at Galpin Ford in North Hills, California. "I've known Bert Beockman and his family for maybe 50 years," Iacocca says. "Bert goes back to Mr. Galpin, who I also knew years ago. The Boeckmans have done amazingly well; they've probably sold more Mustangs than anyone else in the world."
Galpin Ford also handles the performance upgrades on the Iacocca Silver Edition Mustangs, installing the Ford Racing suspension, brakes, cold-air kit, and optional supercharger, which boosts horsepower to 400. The 20-inch wheels are a special Iacocca-design with Goodyear Eagle tires.
Pricing for the Iacocca Silver Edition Mustang hasn't been announced, although we've heard reports in the $60,000-65,000 range. It really doesn't matter because, according to Iacocca, half of the 45 have been sold and the other half are spoken for. Iacocca owns serial number one, while number five was auctioned during the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Las Vegas last November. It sold for significantly more than the reported sticker price. "A young lady and her father bid $352,000 for the one at Barrett-Jackson," says Iacocca. "Because it's limited, it's become a collector's item, and that's why it got a lot of play at the auction. There's only going to be 45 of them and that's the end of it."
But what about the future? Could we see Iacocca's name on another Mustang down the road? "Well, I don't know," Iacocca says. "The jury is still out on whether or not there will be a 2010 model. And I guess we'll need a big shin-dig for the Mustang's 50th anniversary. Right now, we'll stick with the 2009 for the 45th anniversary."
Iacocca Edition Specs
- Iacocca design fastback body
- Iacocca design hood emblem
- Iacocca design gas cap "I" emblem
- Iacocca design trunk lettering
- Diamond design leather seats with embroidery stitching
- Signature dash plague with serial number
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel with badge
- Iacocca aluminum door sill plates
- 300hp 4.6L V-8
- Optional Ford Racing 85mm cold-air kit (320hp)
- Optional Ford Racing supercharger (400hp)
- 5-speed transmission
- Ford Racing Handling Package
- Optional Ford Racing brake upgrade kit
- Iacocca design 20-inch wheels with 245/45 Goodyear Eagle tires