This special version was one of the most famous and desirable for Mustang collectors. They presented the California Special in 1968. It was a special model for dealers in California to boost sales of the Mustang in that state. Ford decided to make the California Special a more upscale model and invested a lot into this version. First, the CS came only with V8 engines and the equipment level was high. Second, the California Special featured a different rear end that was Carroll Shelby’s work. Also, it had a rear deck spoiler, Cougar taillights, and CS badges.
Third, the CS had a vinyl roof, side decals, and fake side scoops. Despite the fact the California Special sold in 4,325 examples, it failed to meet Ford’s sales goal. In fact, at the end of the 1968 model year, lots of unsold CS models were still on the dealer’s lots. California dealers had a problem, so they contacted Ford dealers from Colorado with the request to take over those unsold cars. That is how the â68 High Country Special Mustang model was born. In fact, 251 ex-California Specials became Colorado cars.
In 1968, the district dealers in Seattle, Washington got a special version of their own in the form of the Golden Nugget Mustang. The GN Mustang featured an upscale equipment level, a vinyl roof and side stripes. Better yet, it had a special gold-plated plaque on the dashboard with the original owner’s name engraved.
This was a somewhat expensive model, but it sold in 525 copies, which Ford considered a success. Despite the fact they sold it in Seattle, you can find these Golden Nugget Mustangs all over the county in various collections.
In 1969, a whole new redesign of the Mustang appeared in showrooms across the country. Besides the new regular production models like the luxury Grande, sporty Boss 302, Boss 429, and Mach I, there was one rare special version they simply called the “E,” which was short for “Economy.” This special version featured the base 250 CID straight-six engine and an automatic transmission with a special torque converter.
Strangely, it had a low rear axle ratio. The Mustang E prepared like this was an economical machine with great fuel economy. But, since it appeared in the middle of the muscle car craze, nobody paid attention to this economy model. At the time, everybody was interested in those high powered, gas-guzzling models. And that is why Ford only built 50 of the Mustang E.
The interesting and cool-looking Twister Special was a unique version Ford designed for the Kansas City sales district. They based it on the newly-introduced Ford Mustang Mach I. The Mach I was a performance version that customers could buy with three engines, the 302, 351, and mighty 428 Cobra Jet V8. The initial idea was to give all Twister Specials the biggest, most powerful engine, which was the 428 Cobra Jet.
However, a shortage of engines forced Ford to make some changes and produce a few with the 351 V8. All Twister Specials had a cartoon twister tornado on the rear quarter panel. Ford built 100 Mach I Twister Specials, giving some other models like the Torino the same treatment. Today, few Twister Specials have survived and they are highly sought after by car collectors.
For promotional purposes in Oklahoma sales district, Ford prepared a special version they called the Sidewinder Special based on the 351 V8 Sportsroof model. Some experts claim that they based the Sidewinder on the Mach I model, but Ford has not confirmed that.
Ford built 40 cars in various colors, all with a special set of decals in the box. The dealer prepared the car before each sale by applying the decals. But the most characteristic one was the snake cartoon they placed on the rear fenders. Today, those Sidewinder specials are rare.
In 1972, Ford debut the Sprint special version for the Mustang, Maverick, and Pinto. The cars featured a white color with a patriotic red white and blue paint scheme. Interestingly, Ford used the same color combination in the interior, so the seats match the exterior of the car.
The Sprint was available with all engines and in all Mustang variants. But the convertible is the rarest because Ford only produced 50 of them. Another interesting detail was the U.S. Olympic team logo on the rear fenders. Also, they painted the rear panel between taillights blue.
The second generation of the Ford Mustang debuted in 1974. It was on the market for four years until 1978. Despite the fact it was the subject of so many jokes and bad press, the Mustang II was an important model. To survive the recession and death of muscle cars, Ford downsized the whole Mustang range. Also, they introduced more economical four-cylinder engines and did some part sharing with other Ford models. But all of that doesn’t mean there were no interesting Mustangs between 1974 and 1978. However, they were slow. There was one particularly interesting model, which was the special edition King Cobra.
Ford knew their 5.0 V8 engine produced only 140 HP in the Mustang II, so the performance was slow. But, they also knew that by dressing up the car, they could attract some buyers. So, Ford presented the King Cobra. With a flaming snake on the hood, front and rear spoilers, and a full body kit, the King Cobra was a typical â70s factory custom car. Ford mated the 5.0 V8 with a four-speed manual transmission to make a performance car. However, the performance was terrible, but the outrageous body kit stole the show. Today, Mustang fans consider the King Cobra a collector’s item.
In 1984, the Mustang celebrated its 20th birthday, so Ford introduced a special edition they called the GT350. The car was available as a coupe or a convertible with all engines, but with several unique features. Also, it was white with stripes identical to those on the â65/66 Shelby GT350. Ford limited production to only 5,260 copies, which they sold fast.
However, this car proved to be problematic for Ford since immediately after its release, Carroll Shelby, the man behind the legendary Shelby Mustangs, sued Ford for unauthorized use of the “GT350” name. Apparently, they settled the matter out of court. Ford didn’t use the GT350 name until the 2015 model year.
The story about 7 Up Mustangs is one of the more bizarre tales in the long history of America’s favorite pony car. In 1990, the soft drink manufacturer, 7 Up made a deal with Ford to purchase 30 special edition convertibles as giveaway cars. But for some unknown reason, the deal fell through.
So Ford was left with 30 cars, so they decided to sell them as a special version. The response was so good, the factory decided to produce approximately 4,000 more. All of them were dark green LX convertibles with white interiors and 5.0 V8 engines.
The ghost of the Mustang’s glorious past haunted Ford in the early 2000s. Not only that, they re-introduced the Mach I and offered the legendary Bullitt Mustang as a special model in 2001. For those who don’t know, Bullitt was a 1968 movie with Steve McQueen playing Detective Frank Bullitt who drove a dark green 1968 Ford Mustang. The movie became legendary for its iconic chase scene where the Mustang chased a black Dodge Charger on the streets of San Francisco.
Among Mustang fans, the image of that green Fastback has a cult status. And that is why Ford decided to introduce the Bullitt version. It featured a blacked-out grille, a Highland Green paint job and American Racing wheels. They upgraded the 4.6-liter engine slightly to 265 HP with 305 lb-ft of torque. But it was still enough to achieve an impressive 5.6-second 0 to 60 mph time. The Bullitt Mustang was somewhat more expensive than the regular GT model so Ford built fewer than 6,000 of them.
The early 2000s saw the redesign of the fourth-generation Mustang as well as the introduction of some interesting, powerful versions. And one of those is the Mach I, which featured a retro-inspired graphics package and new colors. Also, it had an upgraded engine and exhaust. Clearly, the Mach I from 2003 was a loving homage to the fire breathing Mach I from the late â60s and early â70s.
Ford tuned the 4.6-liter V8 engine to deliver 305 HP and 320 lb-ft of torque, which went to the rear wheels over a six-speed manual gearbox. The 0 to 60 time was swift at 5.6 seconds, but the coolest detail was those gorgeous retro-inspired five-spoke wheels. The â03 Mach I was a one-year model Ford produced from 2003 to 2004. The total production number was 6,500 cars, making it a collector’s item and quite possibly a valuable Mustang in the future.
When the retro-looking masterpiece of design saw the light of day in the 2005 Mustang, fans of the legendary pony car were ecstatic. The new car not only looked fabulous but it also introduced new levels of power and performance. However, its retro look opened the doors for numerous special editions that mimicked the fantastic Mustangs from the past.
Ford again couldn’t resist, so in 2008, they presented the new Bullitt Mustang. Just as before, it was dark green with a blackout grille. It came with American Racing wheels and a few mechanical modifications. The 4.6-liter V8 engine pumped 315 HP and 325 lb-ft of torque. And that was enough to launch the Highland Green Mustang coupe to 5.0-second 0 to 60 mph times. Of course, they produced the 2008 Bullitt Mustang in limited numbers, so it has a collector’s car appeal.
One of the biggest Mustang legends is Steve McQueen’s Highland Green 1968 Fastback they used in Bullitt, a 1969 cop movie. The movie became famous for its chase scenes. For decades, this car represented one of the coolest Mustangs in the world. Ford couldn’t resist using it for special versions, so they released three Bullitt Mustangs. They included one in 2003, one in 2008 and one in 2018 as a 2019 model.
Ford has based all their Bullitt special versions on the GT V8 model featuring special green paint, dark wheels, power upgrades, and numerous trim changes. All three are highly collectible, desirable cars as well as a big part of Mustang history. The latest one is a 480 HP street fighter they dressed in that recognizable dark green color with sub-four-second 0 to 60 mph times.
These are the 20 rarest Ford Mustang special edition models Ford has produced. Of course, there will be more in the future, but these are the ones that are highly collectible. So, if you want one, be sure to act fast, as their prices are going up while their availability is going down.