The story behind the California Special, first released in 1964 the iconic Ford Mustang created a storm when it hit the streets and it still does to this day. Ford wanted to make the Mustang affordable and therefore it needed to share much of it’s engineering with an existing Ford product. They decided to base the Mustang on the smallest US Ford at the time, the Falcon.
The Mustang was initially offered as either a Hardtop Coupe or Convertible. It shared its front double-wishbone/coil spring and leaf spring rear suspension with the Falcon. Compared to the Falcon its cockpit sat further back on the chassis, resulting in a longer front end and shorter rear design, and it is those proportions and details, like the running horse in the grill, the cut away side panel and the three section rear lights that have resulted in the Mustang enjoying iconic status.
In February 1968, the Ford Mustang GT/CS was unveiled at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to an enthusiastic reception. A group of Californian Ford dealers, who petitioned Ford for a promotional car to increase showroom traffic felt that a special regional edition of the Mustang was necessary and so the ‘California Special’ was born. Available in 1968 only and in coupe form, the California Special had features that set it apart from a standard car. The rear comprised of a fibreglass ‘trunk’ lid with an upswept ‘duck tail spoiler’, rear lights from a Ford Cougar, a pop-open fuel filler cap, Shelby side-scoops, a blacked-out front grille without the usual Pony logo, Marchal fog lights, name scripts of the rear quarter panels and competition-style quarter turn bonnet locks. Many of these features and parts were present on the Shelby models of the same year, leading people to confuse the GT/CS with a Shelby. Although not all GT/CS cars were sold in California alone, they were certainly built in The Golden State, at the San Jose plant with some 3,867 being produced in 1968 – making the GT/CS variant a rare and highly collectable Mustang today.