Special Edition Mustangs
These special edition mustangs are highly coveted by collectors
From the September, 2012 issue of Mustang Monthly
By Don Hughmanick
Photography by The Mustang Monthly Archives
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 '65 Indianapolis 500 Pace...
The '65 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car was the first special edition Mustang. This prototype has off-set Rally stripes over the top; the stripes were centered on the production cars.
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.
The '66 Sprint 200 came with...
The '66 Sprint 200 came with a unique chrome air cleaner and decal on the 200 cubic-inch six-cylinder.
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
Although few were produced,...
Although few were produced, Ford thought enough of the Anniversary Gold Mustang to shoot this promotional photo in 1966.
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.
The first High Country Special,...
The first High Country Special, offered in '66 by Denver area Ford dealers, was "special" primarily because of the special color paint, either Columbine Blue (seen here), Timberline Green, or Aspen Gold.
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.
The first High Country Special,...
The first High Country Special, offered in '66 by Denver area Ford dealers, was "special" primarily because of the special color paint, either Columbine Blue (seen here), Timberline Green, or Aspen Gold.
When California dealers couldn't...
When California dealers couldn't sell all of their '68 California Specials, the Denver dealers took some of the left-overs...
...and turned them into High...
...and turned them into High Country Specials by changing the decal on the side scoop
With the Branded packages,...
With the Branded packages, dealers could dress up used '67-'68 Mustangs with a unique vinyl roof...
...side stripes, and C-pillar...
...side stripes, and C-pillar emblem.
Denver's specially-colored Ski Country Special included a ski rack on the trunk lid.
In late November 1966, the Denver dealers created another promotional package for Mustang hardtops and fastbacks. Advertised in the Denver sales district, the Ski Country Special Mustangs were available in the aptly named colors of Aspen Red, Vail Blue, Winter Park Turquoise, Loveland Green, and Breckenridge Yellow. Also offered on the Galaxie, Fairlane, and Bronco, the Ski Country Special equipment included a ski rack, limited-slip axle, special medallions, window decals, and two snow tires. There were approximately 400 built.
The Mustang Blazer hardtop was a regional edition promoted in late November, early December in the Pittsburg sales district, which included western Pennsylvania, western Maryland, northern West Virginia, and eastern parts of Ohio. This Mustang was targeted toward women with a sense of fashion and featured Lime Gold paint, black vinyl roof, standard interior, personalized dashboard plaque, and "Blazer" exterior nameplates that were affixed to the fenders beneath the Mustang script. All Blazers came with V-8 engines, Cruise-O-Matic transmission, full wheel covers, whitewall tires, rocker moldings, and AM radio. The Blazer promotion was extended to a similarly equipped Galaxie 500. It is not known how many were produced.
Chicagoland dealers jumped on the special edition bandwagon with their own Limited Edition 400, with "400" indicating the sales goal. Sold prior to Christmas, the deep metallic gold Mustang hardtops were equipped with automatic transmission, AM radio, deluxe wheel covers, louvered hood, wheel opening and rear deck lid moldings, tail panel aluminum grille, Limited Edition 400 emblems on the fenders, and a personal nameplate on the instrument panel. According to one original owner, the salesman told him that the promotion was created to commemorate Henry Ford II's 50th birthday, hence the gold paint.
The Branded Special was an add-on kit to help dealers sell used '67-'68 Mustangs. Available in late 1967, the kit included special side stripes in five different colors, C-pillar medallions, and a choice of 15 paisley, sculptured, tweed, or leather design vinyl tops with screw-on moldings. There was also a kit designed to fit '65-'66 Mustangs as well. Dealers advertised that they could "Brand" your Mustang for a price beginning at $39.95.
The Stallion was a custom-designed '67 Mustang sold exclusively by Mainway Ford in Toronto. The Stallions came with special paint, styled steel wheels, Stallion emblems, Cougar taillights on a blacked out tail panel, a unique vinyl roof treatment, and chrome side scoops and roof vents. The pop-open gas cap had a special engraved stallion logo and the Mustang's traditional lettering was replaced with block letters spelling out "Stallion." Sales obviously fell short of expectations; the model was dropped after only eight were produced, four with the 289 Hi-Po engine and four with the 390.
'67 Sports Sprint Special
The '67 Sports Sprint special was a specially-equipped Mustang offered to promote the Mustang's third birthday. Originally, it was advertised as a limited edition, but due to popularity, the program was extended until the end of the model year. It was hardly "limited," as 109,946 were produced, 101,419 as hardtops and 8,527convertibles. Sports Sprints were equipped with a louvered hood with turn signal indicators, rocker panel and tail panel moldings, full wheel covers, white wall tires, vinyl-covered shifter handle, and a chrome air cleaner lid with a "Sports Sprint" decal. Six cylinder cars got the same chrome air cleaner as the previous year's Sprint. All the extras were offered at no additional cost.
The Sports Sprint was a national promotion, but it was also the basis for several regional specials. By taking the Sprint option and requesting special color or adding special badging, dealers got their own instant limited editions!
Other than this Ford promotional...
Other than this Ford promotional photo, we've never seen a '67 Indy Pacesetter Mustang.
Even though the Camaro was the actual '67 Indy pace car, Ford advertised and promoted a Pacesetter Mustang in the Indianapolis sales district. It included special two-tone side stripes over Wimbledon White paint, rear panel grille with reflective blue inserts, louvered hood, Wide-Oval whitewall tires (on V-8 cars), blue standard interior, rocker moldings, and full wheel covers. To get people into the showroom, dealers offered a free "Drive Carefully in Ford Country" reflective bumper sticker. There were approximately 324 Pacesetter Specials produced.
The Lone Star Limited Mustang was a Texas-only edition that included the Sports Sprint equipment plus special Blue Bonnet blue paint, a Texas shaped brass fender badge, and the two-toned blue interior. Advertising indicated that there were to be 700 built; however, only 175 were delivered. The Lone Star Limited Mustangs are identified by a blank color code and a DSO number of 61-5160. They could be purchased with a six cylinder or V-8.
The Limited Edition 600 from...
The Limited Edition 600 from the Philadelphia Ford dealers...
...incorporated special Flower...
...incorporated special Flower Power Red and Groovy Green colors.
'67 Centennial Sports Sprint Special
To celebrate Nebraska's 100th anniversary, the state's dealers offered a Centennial Sports Sprint Special. Based on the Sports Sprint model, it added a Nebraska Centennial medallion. Little is known about this special, but it is suspected that dealers were instructed to add the medallions to any available '67 Sports Sprint Mustang. It is not known as to how many were offered for sale or if there were special colors available.
'67 Third Birthday Treat Mustang (Canada only)
Canada was not left out in the cold when it came to special edition Mustangs. In April 1967, 3,112 "Third Birthday Treat" Mustang hardtops were sold, according to Kevin Marti's Mustang… by the Numbers book. Similar to the Sports Sprint package, they were offered in three colors: Candy Apple Red, Springtime Yellow, and a special Thunderbird Diamond Green. Other no-cost options included knitted vinyl interior, door edge guards, wheel lip and rocker panel moldings, louvered hood, white wall tires, and deluxe wheel covers.
Nationwide Mustang special...
Nationwide Mustang special editions, like the '68 Sprint, were heavily promoted.
In 1968, the California and Western Region Ford Dealers offered a limited production Mustang hardtop based on the appearance of the Shelbys. The California Special (GT/CS) was a base model hardtop with the Shelby taillight and rearend treatment, side scoops, mid-body striping, louvered hood, rear quarter panel emblems, and fog lights displacing the usual Mustang pony and corral in the grille. Available in any color and engine combination, all 4,325 GT/CSs were built at the San Jose plant. Interestingly, the promotion did not meet sales goals in California, so it was expanded throughout the southwest into Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. The High Country Special was born when California dealers asked the Denver Sales District to help unload the special order cars.
The Gold Nugget Mustang was sold out of the Seattle sales district, which included Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. They were delivered with Sunlit Gold paint, black stripes on the louvered hood, black vinyl roof, black C-stripes, whitewall tires with deluxe wheel covers, and a unique gold personalized dash plaque with a small "gold nugget" in the middle. All Gold Nugget Mustangs have DSO 74-1111 and color code Y. Advertisements in January and February 1968 indicated that 525 units would be built. However, only 481 were sold.
Not much is known about the Golden Mustang other than it was sold in western Illinois and Iowa. Advertised in February 1968, the Golden Mustangs cars were painted a special gold color and included an emblem that incorporated a unique star graphic. They also came with the louvered hood, full wheel covers, and whitewall tires. It is not known how many were sold.
To help bolster Mustang sales in the spring and summer of 1968, the Sprint package was again offered but was split into two packages. Sprint "Package A" consisted of a six or eight cylinder engine, side C-stripes, wheel lip moldings, full wheel covers, and a pop-open gas cap. "Package B" was available only with the V-8 engine and added argent painted Styled Steel wheels with E70 Wide Oval tires and grille-mounted fog lamps. With a $110 premium over a base Mustang V-8, 25,012 Sprint Package A and 15,106 Sprint Package B Mustangs were sold over five months.
The Louisiana/Mississippi dealers got in on the limited edition act with their Dixie Special. Alongside Fairlane hardtops and Galaxie XL fastbacks, the Dixie Special hardtops were based on the Springtime Sprint's Package A with additional equipment including a Dixie Special front license plate, unique emblems that included ten stars to represent the Dixie states, and special paint. It is not known as to how many were produced or what colors were offered, although one owner indicates that his car was a non-production yellow/cream color.
Another '68 Sprint-based special edition was the Cardinal Special, as promoted in Virginia and North Carolina. All Cardinal Specials included the Sprint Package A equipment, standard black interior, red or white exterior, and a unique diamond shaped emblem affixed to the C-pillar. White cars came with a red C-stripe and red cars came with a black C-stripe. The Cardinal Specials were advertised with the 200 cubic-inch six cylinder but there have been reports of V-8s being available as well.
68 Double Feature
Mustang (Canada only)
Returning for a second year, Canada's special edition Mustang was more closely based on the Springtime Sprint than in the previous year. It came with all of the Springtime Sprint options but added the two-toned louvered hood and pop-open gas cap. They were advertised with a $73.05 savings. Kevin Marti's Mustang… By the Numbers book indicates that 1,757 were sold.
'68 Color of the Month Specials
For the first four months of 1968, Ford's Denver Sales District promoted certain colors each month to correspond with holidays. January's color was Black Hills Gold, February and Valentine's Day claimed Passionate Pink (often referred to as Playboy or Playmate Pink), March had Emerald Green for St. Patrick's Day, and April's color was Eastertime Coral. It is estimated that only ten were built each month. The Color of the Month Mustangs can be identified by the San Jose production plant, Denver DSO 51 plus a four-digit special order code, and blank paint code.
'68-'69 Rainbow of Colors
Sold in the San Jose and Los Angeles districts, the Rainbow of Colors Mustangs were offered from the beginning of February 1968 and returned again for 1969. They were well-advertised and listed 10 available colors such as Madagascar Orange, Orange Ice, Chocolate, Whipped Cream, Spanish Gold, Dandelion Yellow, Razzle-Dazzle Yellow, Hot Pink, Sierra Blue, and Moss Green. Many but not all included the Sprint A package. The Rainbow Mustangs can be identified by the Los Angeles DSO 71 and the blank color code on the door tag.
There were other Rainbow specials advertised in other districts with colors like Stone Yellow, Forest Green, Turned-on Orange, Gremlin Green, Flower Orchid, Beatnik Blue, and Poppy Pink.
Ford thought enough of the...
Ford thought enough of the Mustang "E" economy model that promotional photos were taken. However, during a time when musclecars were king, it's no surprise that few were sold, perhaps as few as 50. We've never seen one.
The Mustang "E" was a basic SportsRoof with a 250-1V engine with special carburetor jetting, special torque converter, and 2.33:1 axle ratio, all to aid fuel mileage. This little known economy car was not well promoted and only 96 were built. Very few have surfaced to date.
In May 1969, Ford held an All-Ford Performance Day at Thompson Dragway in eastern Ohio to showcase Ford's performance cars, the Ford Drag Team, and the region's new special edition Mustangs and Torinos. The "Going Thing" Mustangs were painted Grabber Blue (which didn't become readily available until '70) with white stripes similar to the Boss 302 C-stripe but with "The Going Thing" reversed out along the bottom. They also included the Mustang's top performance packages with 428 CJ and 351 four-barrel engines. It has not been determined how many were built. They can be identified by a blank color code and a DSO code of 32-2249. They may have been available in red as well, but that has yet to be confirmed.
Similar to the previous Sprints, Ford offered specially-equipped SportsRoof and hardtop Mustangs beginning in February 1969. Also advertised as the Western Mustang, the special added a hood scoop, dual racing mirrors, side tape stripes, full wheel covers, and whitewall tires. The special sold well with 62,240 built. All drivetrain options and colors were available. Once again, this package was the foundation for a few regional specials.
The Limited Edition 600 was a promotional hardtop or SportsRoof developed by the Philadelphia sales district in May-June of 1969 to coincide with Ford's national Mustang Stampede sales promotion. The 600 consisted of custom colored Mustangs in either Flower Power Red or Groovy Green with hood scoop, chrome remote mirror, accent pinstripes, full wheel covers, and whitewall tires. Only 503 Limited Edition 600s were built, missing the goal of 600. They can be identified by the absence of a color code and a DSO of 16-2783 through 2788. Most but not all 600s were powered by six cylinder engines; the largest available engine was the 351 two-barrel, which was installed in the sole green Mach 1 that was used for promotional photos.
'69 Winter Sports Special (Canada only)
Canada's special for '69 was called the Winter Sports Special, specially-equipped Mustang SportsRoofs that were sold in January and February alongside Galaxie XLs, Fairlanes, Falcons, and Explorer trucks. The Mustang included all the options listed for the Pop-Option Mustangs at no additional cost. The hook to drive traffic to the showrooms was that you could enter to win a winter vacation and pick up money saving coupons on Sports equipment. Kevin Marti's Mustang... by the Numbers book indicates that 5,729 were sold.
During April 1969, there were 50 special order Mustang hardtops delivered to the Cincinnati sales district. It is not known why or what these odd yellow Mustangs were all about. Are there any of them out there? Does anyone have any information about these Mustangs?
'70 Grabber Special Value Package
To promote Ford's new Grabber colors, Ford introduced the Grabber package for Mustang and Maverick Grabber as a nationwide promotion in February 1970. According to the press release, they were offered in Grabber Green, Grabber Blue, Grabber Orange, Calypso Coral (also known as Vermillion), and Bright Yellow. Mainly identified by the '69 Boss-like C-stripe on the side, the "Grabber Special Value Package," as it was called on the invoice, was available only on the SportsRoof and also added dual sport mirrors, black taillight panel, and F-70 whitewall tires with standard hub caps. A 302 two-barrel engine was standard equipment with either a three-speed manual or automatic; the 351 was optional. According to Kevin Marti's Mustang… By the Numbers book, 5,120 Grabber SportsRoof were sold in 1970.
The Twister Special story has its beginnings with a planned pace car program for American Raceways Inc. To accommodate ARI, Ford Special Promotions prepared 10 Mustangs--five Mach 1s and five convertibles--with distinctive side stripes and balanced/blueprinted 428 Super Cobra Jet engines. However, ARI filed for bankruptcy and Ford was left holding the money bags for the project.
Although only 96 were built...
Although only 96 were built for a special Kansas City promotion, the '70 Twister Special is one of the most widely recognized Mustang special editions.
To recoup the investment, Special Promotions sought out a sales district for a special edition. Kansas City signed on for the Twister Special, named for the Midwest's reputation for tornados. Produced as both '70 Mach 1s and Torinos, the Twister Specials utilized the still-born ARI side stripes, redesigned with the Ford oval and Mach 1 logo, along with a twirling tornado decal on the rear quarter panel. Initially, all of the Mustangs were planned with 428 SCJ engines, but a shortage of available engines split the order between big-blocks and the new 351 Cleveland four-barrel engine. All were equipped with the functional Shaker hood scoop.
Ford introduced the Twister Special during a "Total Performance Day" at Kansas City International Raceway on November 7, 1969, where dealers drove away in 96 Grabber Orange Mach 1s (half 428, half 351) and 90 Calypso Coral 429 SCJ Torinos.
Little is known about the '70 Sidewinder Special other than it was a SportsRoof built at the Dearborn Assembly Plant for the Oklahoma sales district. Powered by the 351 four-barrel engine, the Sidewinder was available in many colors with a side stripe similar to the Twister Special along with snake decals, similar to Ford's "Cobra on wheels" cartoon, for the rear quarters. The decals came in a box in the trunk for application by dealers. To date, it is believed that there were about 40 cars built for the promotion.
The Grabber Value Package...
The Grabber Value Package for '70 SportsRoofs took advantage of the popularity of the Boss 302 with side C-stripes and blacked out rear panel.
This little-known special was most likely a dealer promotion, but advertising indicates that the Big Red Special SportsRoof was created to honor the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. All were red Mustangs with a 302 V-8. It is not known how many were made or if any still exist.
The Mustang Sports Coupe was a national Special Value Package hardtop offered in April and May of 1971. Just as the '70 Grabbers had capitalized on the popular Boss cars, this model was dressed up to simulate a Boss 351 with hockey-stick side stripes (without Boss lettering), NASA hood, Mach I grille, E70 whitewall tires, hubcaps with trim rings, dual sport mirrors, and the Mach I's color-coordinated bumper group. The package retailed for $97. Any color and option was available.
Ford brought back the Sprint name in the spring of 1972 for a red, white, and blue themed special edition for Mustang, Maverick, and Pinto to commemorate the USA's Olympic team. Offered from March to June 1972, the "Sprint Décor Option Group" supplied a white hardtop or SportsRoof with blue and red trim, along with a "USA" decal on the rear quarter. Canadian versions were offered with a Canadian Maple Leaf decal.
The '72 Sprint USA hardtop...
The '72 Sprint USA hardtop and SportsRoof weren't just for the USA. The red, white, and blue special edition was also offered in Canada with a Maple Leaf decal.
Like the '68 Sprints, two packages were available. The base Package A ($156) included the Sprint exterior along with a matching white interior with blue seat inserts and red piping, blue carpet, dual racing mirrors, hub caps with trim rings, and E70 white sidewall tires. Package B ($347.46) added the Competition Suspension and F60 Wide Oval tires on 15-inch Magnum 500 wheels.
There were 6,247 hardtop and 3,086 SportsRoof Sprints produced for a total of 9,383, including 50 special convertibles produced for the Cherry Blossom parade in Washington D.C.
As the owner of a '69 Limited Edition 600, Don Hughmanick has taken a special interest in special edition Mustangs. His research led him to put together a list with descriptions, which spawned the idea for this article. Don maintains his special edition Mustang list at his website www.limited600mustang.net, which is updated when he uncovers new information. Don is also working with Carlisle Productions to create a display of Mustang special editions for the 2014 Ford Nationals. If you own one and would like to participate, or if you have additional information to share about special editions, you can reach Don through his website.
The Blue Bonnet Blue paint...
The Blue Bonnet Blue paint and a Texas-shaped badge identifies the Lone State Limited...
...a special-edition hardtop...
...a special-edition hardtop that was sold in Texas.