1968 Ford Mustang California Special
8-cyl. 289cid/195hp 2bbl
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With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Things changed little outwardly between the 1967 and 1968 Ford Mustangs, apart from the obvious side reflectors that were now mandated. Production dropped to 317,148 from 472,121, thanks to a 60-day strike between September and November, and the model slipped from second place to seventh in domestic production.
Hardtops remained the most popular model with 249,447 sold, followed by 42,325 fastbacks and 25,376 convertibles. Base hardtop price was $2,602, fastback $2,712, and convertible $2,814. The majority of cars featured standard interior trim, though about 5 percent had deluxe interiors and a handful were ordered with bench seats. Two-tone louvered hoods were optional on all models. Dash panels now featured wood grain appliques, front head rests were optional, and seat backs now locked in the upright position. A collapsible spare tire was available.
The big news was mostly mechanical, with a 220/230 bhp, 302 cid V-8 introduced, though the 289 was still the base V-8 and the 200 cid six was available. The 325 bhp, 390 cid engine was now a new “FE” block and 11,475 buyers stepped up for that motor. The top engine option was a low riser version of Ford’s 427 cid V-8, only available with an automatic transmission and only until December 1967. It was rated at 390 bhp and cost a whopping $622. Very few were sold; look for a W in the VIN.
On April 1st, drag racers were happy to learn that a 335 bhp, 428 cid Cobra Jet V-8 could be crammed in for $434 extra, though you might want the $54 tachometer as well. The Cobra Jet engine was a 428 with 427 heads and actually produced more than 400 bhp. The Cobra Jet had a functional ram air hood scoop, power front disc brakes and staggered rear shocks for 4-speed cars. A total of 2,253 fastbacks and 564 hardtops were so equipped. Before the Cobra Jet was introduced, 50 pre-production cars were sold in Wimbledon White primarily to racers. They were stripped-down models with 428 engines and aluminum intakes. The sticker announced “Cobra Jet Program” and the package cost $507.40.
A special model called the California Special GT/CS also sold on the West Coast. Inspired by Shelby's GT500 "Little Red" prototype and conceived by a California sales manager named Lee Grey, the California Special was only available as a coupe and attracted 5000 buyers. It combined some GT features with Shelby-style sequential taillights, a deck lid with a spoiler, blacked-out grille, Lucas or Marchal fog lights, non-functional rear fender intakes and GT hubcaps without the letters. Colorado buyers were offered the High Country Special, which is considerably rarer.
Two stripes were offered this year with the $147 GT package. The rocker panel stripe as before, or a “C’ Stripe which ran to the top of the rear fender sculpture, then curved under it and ran forward. Reflective stripes were optional. The GT package included fog lights in the grille, a GT gas cap and GT wheel covers. Disc brakes were extra cost unless you ordered a big 390 or 428 cid V-8 in which case they were standard. A total of 17,458 GTs were sold.
A total of 16 colors were offered, but without production figures. They were Raven Black (Code A); Royal Maroon (B); Acapulco Blue (D); Gulfstream Aqua (F); Lime Gold (I); Wimbledon White (M); Diamond Blue (N); Seafoam Green (O); Brittany Blue (Q); Highland Green (R); Candyapple Red (T); Tahoe Turquoise (U); Meadowlark Yellow (W); Sunlit Gold (Y); Pebble Beige (6). 16 interior colors were offered and convertible tops were black or white.