Fact 1: Bruce Springsteen loves to sing about cars and despite some occasional technical boo-boos (see Fact #17), most efforts are spot-on. A great example is the song “Ramrod” from his 1980 album The River.
The Boss describes taking “Dolly” out for a night of action in a 1932 Ford. But it isn’t stock: “. . . she’s a hot-stepping Hemi with a four on the floor, she’s a Road Runner engine in a ’32 Ford.”
Sounds like somebody’s 4-speed Hemi Road Runner got scavenged for parts. Dolly better hope the Deuce frame rails were boxed to handle the Hemi’s 490 ft-lbs of torque!
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book, STEVE MAGNANTE’S 1001 MUSCLE CAR FACTS . For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
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Fact 2: When is a pre-1980 Mustang not a Mustang? When it’s sold in Germany, where Krupp Heavy Industries has manufactured large trucks with the Mustang name since the mid 1950s. Rather than pay Krupp a reported $10,000 one-time licensing fee to use the name Mustang in Germany, Ford badged all 1965–1979 Mustang cars exported to Germany as T-5 models. Inside and out, all Mustang emblems were deleted as the cars rolled down the Dearborn, Michigan, and Metuchen, New Jersey, assembly lines to be substituted with T-5 badging.
The galloping horse motif remained unchanged because it was not covered by Krupp’s trademark infringement claim. T-5 production continued until December 1979 when Krupp’s hold on the Mustang name expired and subsequent exports could carry Mustang badging.
Total T-5 production is unknown, but the cars were very popular with US military personnel who could buy them through the PX program. Large numbers of T-5s were also sold directly to German citizens. Verifying a T-5 Mustang is difficult without an actual build sheet, though all must carry a built-for-export code in the DSO (district sales office) box of the door tag.
Fact 3: As early as 1956, White Motor Company manufactured heavy-duty trucks marketed as Mustangs here in America. No one knows why White didn’t object to Ford’s use of the Mustang name, but production of White Mustang heavy delivery trucks and Ford Mustang pony cars overlapped for several years without strife.
Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen’s jump from General Motors to Ford in the late 1960s (with ace stylist Larry Shinoda in tow) triggered production of the legendary Boss 302 and Boss 429 Mustangs. In 1971 Knudsen left Ford after a turbulent three-year tenure for a position at . . . White Motor Company!
And finally, when Ford added the Borg-Warner T-5 5-speed overdrive manual transmission to the option list in mid 1983, it was possible to get a T-5 in your Mustang. I don’t know if any German hot rodders tried it, but stuffing a T-5 in a vintage T-5 would make a great Autobahn cruiser.
Fact 4: Late-model Mustang fans refer to the supercharged 2003– 2004 Mustang Cobra as “the Terminator,” a model name Ford almost used in production. Initially conjured by Cobra program manager Tom Bochenek, the reference was undoubtedly drawn from the series of Terminator action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator, 1984; Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, 2003).
It doesn’t take much imagination to envision the little blown Mustang making mincemeat of competing Camaro and Firebird models. But likely due to the prospect of wrangling with Hollywood over licensing and royalties, Ford reverted to basic Mustang Cobra nomenclature for the production model.
Take a look at the inner surface of any 2003–2004 Cobra side scoop insert for a glimpse of how close the Terminator name came to reality. Part number markings read “Terminator VT4202.”
Ironically, the Camaro and Firebird terminated themselves after the 2002 model year, leaving the Cobra as Detroit’s top pony car offering until the 2008 Challenger and 2010 Camaro returned to the marketplace
Fact 5: I am familiar with the independent rear suspension fitted to 1999–2004 Mustang Cobras. Though well suited to the road course, the delicate, stock IRS is a drag-strip liability.
During a night test session at the now-defunct Palmdale International Raceway in the California desert, a slick-equipped IRS Cobra scattered its differential on the starting line on a run ahead of me. Because the track rental was conducted at night, Palmdale’s notoriously frugal management turned off much of the track lighting. Not seeing the pool of gear lube and gear bits in my path, I launched my nitrous-equipped Duster into the mess. Quick corrections prevented a meeting with the guard rail but I’ll never forget the excitement of that run.
Later, I met up with the Cobra driver who (amazingly) didn’t know his differential had exploded. A series of exit wounds revealed where spider gears departed the potent Mustang’s aluminum differential case. Somehow, he completed his pass and even managed to drive the wounded car onto a trailer in the pits.
Fact 6: It’s common knowledge the new-for-1969 Boss 429 engine was intended to serve as Ford’s Chrysler Hemi-killer in NASCAR competition. What’s not generally remembered is that initial plans called for its installation in full-size Galaxies! And why not? The beefy Galaxie was Ford’s NASCAR workhorse in 1960 to 1965. But by 1969, midsize racers of every make replaced the full-size cars used previously.
To keep pace, NASCAR’s minimum-production homologation mandate had been relaxed with the emphasis placed on the engine rather than the engine/vehicle combination. The key detail is that the host vehicle for the street-legal engine-homologation package didn’t necessarily need to be the type raced in competition. Ever since 1966, the midsize Fairlane (and later the Torino) was Ford’s primary NASCAR warrior, but stuffing the wide Boss-Nine between its unit-construction spring towers wasn’t simple.
By contrast, the full-size body-on-frame 1969 Galaxie’s engine compartment could take the Boss without any massaging. Thus, the proposed Boss 429 Galaxie would have served to legalize the massive mill for use in smaller track-only Fairlane and Torino models. If you’re sensing that showroom demand for such an odd combination would have been minimal, you’re not alone. Recently arrived (from General Motors) Ford corporate honcho “Bunkie” Knudsen rejected the full-size Boss 429 Galaxie strategy and instead decreed that the massive Boss be installed in the sporty Mustang (which shares the Fairlane/Torino platform). The resulting Mustang Boss 429 required a separate assembly line (Kar Kraft’s Brighton, Michigan, shop got the contract) but the end result legalized the mighty Boss 429 for NASCAR duty, and delivered one of the most coveted Mustang models of all time. And no, the Mustang wasn’t legal for NASCAR competition.
Fact 7: Before the arrival of the Boss 429 in 1969, Fords would-bebut-never-was NASCAR doomsday machine was the SOHC 427 of the late 1964–1967 period. Though politics ultimately prevented the 427 SOHC from ever turning a tire in anger on a NASCAR-sanctioned course, Ford teased the motoring press (and NASCAR) with several SOHC Galaxie prototypes in 1964–1967 by hinting that a showroom model was just around the corner.
Can you imagine what sort of amazing identification emblems Ford would have conjured for a 427 SOHC-powered Galaxie 7-liter? One possibility was the standard pressed-aluminum checkered-flag/winged Thunderbird logo, but with “SOHC” in place of the usual 352, 390, and 427 numbers.
Fact 8: So how close did the SOHC 427 Galaxie get to the showroom floor? In the July 1966 issue of Hi-Performance CARS author Roger Huntington wrote: “The engine has been certified ‘stock’ by NASCAR and USAC officials, after Ford installed a few in ’66 Galaxies on the assembly line and published a list price under the limit of $1,000. But there’s a hooker in the deal. The rule makers have suddenly decided that overhead-cam engines should carry a weight handicap of one pound for every cubic inch. This means, in effect, that a Galaxie with an OHC engine would have to weigh a minimum of about 4,420 pounds—compared with 4,000 pounds for Dodges and Plymouths with hemis. Ford isn’t too happy about this one.”
Needless to say, Ford was absolutely ready to “drop the bomb” with street-going homologation 427 cammer-powered Galaxies in 1966, but NASCAR’s ever-moving targets sank the deal.
Fact 9: Today it’s amazing to realize that the recipe for a cammer V-8 in full-size cars eventually came to fruition, albeit decades later. Since 1992, Ford/Mercury has produced millions of SOHC V-8 Crown Victorias and Mercury Grand Marquis passenger cars. Though these late-model cammers may only displace 281 cubic inches, their chaindriven, overhead-cam layout is an unquestionable descendant of the mighty 427 SOHC NASCAR doomsday machine.
Fact 10: Magazine coverage of the exotic, hemi-headed, full-size galloping Galaxies of 1964–1967 was mainly seen in East Coast enthusiast publications such as Hi-Performance CARS, which ran teaser photos that never appeared in the big West Coast rags.
One of the most intriguing SOHC Galaxie prototypes appeared in the October 1966 edition. The story, entitled “It’s a Street Cammer!” focused on a pale yellow 1967 Galaxie 500 hardtop plugged full of dual-quad SOHC power, but which rolled on stock whitewall tires and wore docile-looking Galaxie full wheel covers. Story author Brad Devlin wrote: “The Galaxie hardtop shown here is used on the street daily by Ford performance people for evaluation purposes.”
In the end, Ford never unleashed an SOHC Galaxie for showroom consumption. The test cars were all eventually scrapped by Ford; none seem to have escaped into private hands.
Fact 11: The engine bay of a 1964 SOHC 427Galaxie engineering mule car was pictured in a 1964 issue of Hi-Performance CARS magazine along with a brief ride and drive summary. A standout feature of the subject was its pre-production cam covers and heads. The spark plug wires entered from the bottom edge of the heads rather than the top edge used on the production 1965–1967 SOHC.
This proves Ford engineers were toying with spark plug location within the cammer’s hemispherical combustion chambers. The move from the lower position to the upper position was very likely done in the name of serviceability. The low-mount spark plugs made access a nightmare. As wide as the 1964 Galaxie engine bay is, in-car spark plug changes would have required a mechanic with the neck of a giraffe.
Fact 12: How popular was Starsky and Hutch’s Zebra 3 Gran Torino? Though it undoubtedly trails behind the General Lee Charger and the Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am, enough folks coveted the car to warrant Ford’s creation of a Starsky and Hutch Special Gran Torino in 1976.
A virtual look-alike of the TV car, Ford’s Chicago plant built 1,001 units with distinctive Zebra 3 two-tone color treatment. Identifying an original Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino starts with checking the second digit of the VIN for the letter G (signifying Ford’s Chicago assembly line). Further verification is found on the vehicle certification label, where the DSO code must read 0022.
Fact 13: For shooting of the initial 90-minute ABC Starsky and Hutch movie of the week pilot episode, the production company secured a pair of H-code (351-2 Windsor) 1975 Gran Torinos but found their meager 154 net hp to be useless in stunt-driving scenarios. To add pep, the stock 2.75:1 axle ratios were exchanged for lower (higher numeric) cogs.
With the success of the pilot episode, the show was picked up for regular production and replacement Torinos (with the 158-nethp, S-code, 400-M 2-barrel engine) were substituted for the wheezing pilot cars. Even these were too anemic for tire-smoking action scenes so for the 1976 season, show producers exchanged them for another pair of red Gran Torinos—this time packing the A-code, 460 big-block and 202 net hp.
This is why viewers of episodes shot from 1976-on are treated to billowing clouds of tire smoke, a direct result of the 460’s hefty low-end torque output.
Fact 14: The Zebra 3 Gran Torino from Starsky and Hutch actually appeared in the first episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. In that episode (titled “One Armed Bandits”) Cooter Davenport (played by actor Ben Jones) is seen at the wheel.
You can probably guess that because Dukes aired on CBS (a bitter rival to Starsky hosts at ABC), friendly cross-promotion was not the motivator. Rather, it is generally agreed that Dukes producers did it to alert Starsky fans of a new sheriff in town—so to speak—and his name was the General Lee. The Starsky car used in the Dukes cameo was very certainly one of the 1,001 replicas built by Ford in 1976, and not a willing loan-out of an actual studioowned Spelling-Goldberg TV production car.
Fact 15: Were Bruce Jenner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone really involved in designing the 1994 Mustang? Not directly, but as the body shapes were being refined and defined prior to final selection, Ford stylists assigned the names of the three sports/entertainment icons to various development proposals.
Led by then–Mustang Design Manager Bud Magaldi, the Bruce Jenner design looked athletic and lean. The Schwarzenegger version appeared bulked up but sleek. Finally, the Stallone version (looking surprisingly similar to a 2002 WS6 Pontiac Trans Am) was deemed too aggressive, the results of intense consumer clinic testing, which began in 1989. The final 1994 Mustang body shape was most heavily influenced by the Arnold Schwarzenegger concept.
Fact 16: Did the mighty 1964 427 Fairlane Thunderbolt super stocker really have a single exhaust system? Yes.
To save weight (versus a dual-exhaust arrangement) while meeting the NHRA mandate for street-legal exhaust systems on “stock” class entries, Ford had Dearborn Steel Tubing fi t each T-Bolt with a solitary 11 ⁄2-inch pipe running under the passenger side of the floorpan. A stock six-cylinder Fairlane straight-through muffler was positioned in the standard location beside the gas tank. In race service, the header caps were unbolted, allowing the 427 high-riser to breathe freely. The T-Bolt stands as the only dual-quad-inducted Ford passenger vehicle ever fitted with single exhaust.
Fact 17: Like most carmakers, Ford outsourced construction of many highly specialized performance and race models to subcontractors. In the case of the 1969–1970 Mustang Boss 429, finalassembly was handled by Kar Kraft’s facility in Brighton, Michigan. But did you know this is the same shop also tasked with building the Ford GT-40s that won LeMans four times in a row (1966 through 1969)? You do now.
Under the supervision of Englishman (and former Aston Martin engineer) Roy Lunn, the mighty GT-40s that defeated Ferrari’s best and brightest were hand built at Kar Kraft before being sent to Shelby’s Los Angeles plant for final touches. Prior to joining Kar Kraft, Lunn was in charge of building the mid-engine 1962 Mustang I concept car. The 1967 GT40 MKIV was the only race car built entirely in the United States to win overall at LeMans.
Fact 18: The 2007 action-adventure movie I am Legend showcased a bright red 2007 Shelby Mustang GT500. For the opening scene (which runs more than 21 ⁄2 minutes), Will Smith’s character, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville rumbles, slides and races through a post-apocalyptic New York cityscape in a showroomfresh Shelby (the window sticker is still affixed to the passenger door glass).
The raspy growl and blower whine of its DOHC 5.4 (presented in Dolby Digital sound) is worth the price of admission alone. The mega-hit movie (it grossed $585,349,010 worldwide on a $150 million budget) exposed zillions of moviegoers to the majesty that is the reborn GT500.
Fact 19: The 1966 Thunderbird featured in the 1991 Metro-MGM action-adventure fl ick Thelma & Louise is no muscle car. Or is it?
The answer is yes, because its original owner paid an extra $64.77 to step up from the base 390-cubic-inch, 315-hp, 427-ft-lbs 390 (Z-code) to the 428 (Q-code), transforming the big ’Bird into a real flying machine with 345 hp and 462 ft-lbs. I stood beside the MGM Q-code car when it sold for $71,500 at the 2008 BarrettJackson collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Fact 20: In a hand-written letter dated April 10, 1934, Clyde Barrow (half of the notorious Bonnie and Clyde serial bank robbery team) wrote these words to Henry Ford: “While I have still got breath in my lungs I will tell you what a dandy car you make. I have drove Fords exclusively when I could get away with one. For sustained speed and freedom from trouble the Ford has got every other car skinned, and even if my business hasn’t been strickly [sic] legal it don’t hurt anything to tell you what a fi ne car you got in the V-8. Yours Truly, Clyde Champion Barrow.”
Fact 21: Most folks aren’t aware that every Fox-Body Ford Mustang convertible built between 1983 and 1993 started life as a two-door sedan. Dearborn River Rouge assembly plant line workers installed the drivetrain and suspension and then chopped off the steel roof so final construction could be handled off campus at Cars & Concepts in Brighton, Michigan. To protect the partially completed open cabins from weather during the 10-mile truck ride from Dearborn to Brighton, reusable fiberglass transit caps were employed. Cars & Concepts handled 276,576 Mustang convertible conversions between 1983 and 1993. For the 1994 SN95 revamp, Ford brought convertible production entirely in-house, ending its decade-long partnership with Cars & Concepts.
Fact 22: Construction of 100 1964 427 Fairlane Thunderbolts was farmed out to DST in 1963. Each began life as a Dearbornbuilt K-code 289 High Performance sedan but engines, transmissions, and front sheet metal were not installed. Instead, each rolling shell was trucked to DST for fitment of a High-Riser 427, fiberglass nose clip, lightweight interior, 4-speed transmission (41 cars) or Lincoln-sourced 3-speed automatic (59 cars), and other dragspecific goodies. The low sticker price of $3,780 for a 4-speed ($3,980 for the automatic) was likely half the actual per-unit cost.
Fact 23: Boss 429 Mustangs were also farmed out for final construction during their 1969–1970 lifespan. Knowing the “Shotgun” 429 was literally too wide to slip between the Mustang’s spring towers, the Dearborn plant prepared each car destined to become a Boss 429 as an R-code 428 Super Cobra Jet Sportsroof. However, as with the Thunderbolt campaign of 1964, the engines were never actually installed. Rather, the rolling shells were transported to Brighton, Michigan, subcontractor, Kar Kraft.
Set up in a former mobile home factory, Kar Kraft technicians modified the spring towers then installed the Boss 429, closeratioToploader 4-speed (no automatics), 3.91:1 Traction-Lok, trunk-mount battery, F60x15 Goodyear tires, and numerous other Boss-Nine–only details. This process took place 1,358 times (859 in 1969 and 499 in 1970) before NASCAR handicapped the Boss 429 (and Chrysler 426 Hemi) into submission, ending the need to homologate the engine via Mustang installations.
Fact 24: When buyers of 1994 Mustang GTs lifted the hood for the fi rst time, they likely wondered why there was so much extra room between the strut towers and the 302’s valve covers. Compared to the 1979–1993 Fox engine bay, the SN-95 expanse was massive. Little did they know Ford’s mighty DOHC 4.6 Cobra modular V-8 was just two years away.
At 29.5 inches, the 4.6 Cobra is wider than the Boss 429. Ford didn’t want a repeat of the expensive need for an off-campus shop like Kar Kraft to handle the DOHC installation in Mustang Cobras. Since 1996, regular Ford assembly lines have installed tens of thousands of DOHC mod motors in Mustang Cobra engine bays, thanks to the painful shoehorn lesson taught by the original Boss 429 program.
Fact 25: Removing the A- and B-pillar edge molding on any 1983–1993 Fox-Body Mustang convertible reveals shocking surgery scars— remnants of where River Rouge line workers manually severed the steel roof. I wonder how Ford disposed of the quarter-million excess roof skins generated during the life of the program.
Fact 26: Fox-era Mustang coupe bodies destined for transformation into convertibles were based on stiffer floorpans than those found under coupes and hatchbacks. A key identifier is the presence of rocker sill panels with increased section size versus sedans and hatchbacks. “Five-point-oh” folklore suggests a small number of 5.0 sedans were built atop “large rocker” convertible floorpans. The resulting coupe would have exceptional torsional rigidity. Check yours today.
Fact 27: The slight longitudinal barrel curve visible on all 2005 Mustang hoods was required for engine clearance. Contrary to first assumptions, the extra height was needed to clear the standard V-6 and not the GT’s three-valve 4.6 V-8. New for 2005, the 202- hp SOHC 4.0-liter’s intake manifold featured tuned runners, which made it taller than the V-8, thus forcing the hood bulge seen on all 2005 base and GT Mustangs (they share the same hood skin).
Fact 28: Each of the 754 Torino Talladegas built in 1969 came with two rear bumpers: one out back and one under the aerodynamically enhanced nose. The stock Fairlane front bumper is formed with a wide, horizontal slot, which admits air.
By contrast, the rear bumper pressing has a solid face. Because improved airflow management was the key goal of the NASCARbound Talladega, the non-slotted rear bumper was better for use up front since it allowed less air “leakage” under the car for reduced lift. But it was not a direct fi t. Each rear bumper had to be sliced by hand (so a gentle “V” could be added) then welded back together and rechromed. It’s no wonder Ford lost money on every Talledega sold.
Fact 29: The 1964 Fairlane Thunderbolt was built with two frontbumperconfigurations. The initial 11 cars were built with lightweight, fiberglass front bumpers and splash shields. But alleged complaints from Chrysler forced the NHRA to rule them illegal for Super Stock and a subsequent aluminum front-bumper configuration was quickly adopted, which appeared on the rest of the 100-car production run. The alloy bumper is longer and wraps around the front of the car from wheel opening to wheel opening.
Fact 30: Inside every automatic-equipped 1964 Thunderbolt is a column-mount shift lever. Hardly the stuff of Super Stock dreams, the tree-mounted shifter was nonetheless accurate enough for drag strip use. That said, when the 59 automatic Thunderbolt drivers discovered the 200 extra pounds and 5-mph reduction in trap speed (versus a 4-speed stick), most T-Bolts were converted from S/SA (Super Stock, automatic transmission) to S/S (Super Stock, manual transmission) right away.
Fact 31: The 19631 ⁄2 Galaxie lightweight program was an extremely aggressive effort that succeeded in slashing race weight from 4,150 to 3,480 pounds. Though the crashworthiness of aluminum bumpers and fiberglass fenders is debatable, Ford wasn’t willing to take a chance on fiberglass doors. Though some reports claim the 200 Galaxie lightweights built in 1963 were delivered with plastic doors, only a few made it to customers that way. The rest carried standard steel doors. Those wanting fi berglass replicas bought them strictly over the counter.
Fact 32: The 1,001 white-on-red Starsky and Hutch Special Gran Torinos built in 1976 at the Ford Chicago assembly plant caused some headaches for the paint department. Contrary to popular belief, the huge white vector stripes were not hastily applied vinyl wraps. Rather, each car body was painted with two coats of white then oven baked at 325 to 390 degrees F. Next, specially trained line workers applied 3M masking decals to define the graphic, scuffed the remaining white surfaces, and sent the bodies back through the paint booth for three coats of 2B bright red. The red-over-white paint application sequence was needed to ensure a brilliant white tone. Had the white been applied over a red base, bleed-through would have added a subtle pink tone to the white panels.
Fact 33: A little-known way to verify a 1962–1963 Thunderbird Sports Roadster, versus a dolled-up standard Convertible, is to feel the rear wheel lips. An authentic Sports Roadster is not drilled for fender skirt retainer clips and thus has smooth (non-drilled) wheel-lipopening surfaces. All other Thunderbird hardtop and convertible bodies feature standard rear fender skirts, and are drilled for attachment hardware. The Thunderbird Sports Roadster also displays a unique trim tag, body-style code, which must read 76B. Sports Roadster production totaled 1,427 in 1962 and 455 in 1963.
Fact 34: Ford’s 1965 A/FX drag race package was based on a group of 10 Mustang 2+2s that were hand built at Holman-Moody’s Charlotte, North Carolina, shop. To seed the project, the Dearborn plant supplied Holman-Moody with 10 semi-complete 2+2 Mustangs. Each car was initiated as a K-code 289 High Performance unit (so the 9-inch rear axle would already be in place), but left the Dearborn plant with the following items deleted: engine, transmission, radiator, driveshaft, front fenders, hood, doors, back seat, side glass, and windshield. Once under the guidance of HolmanMoody’s John Wanderer, the shell cars were built up with fiberglass replacement body panels and 427 engines (half with SOHC hemi heads, half with standard wedge heads).
Fact 35: Even though the 1994 SN-95/Fox-4 Mustang wore an entirely new skin, the main floorpan stamping (not including the fi re wall) is closely related to the one found beneath every 1978 Fairmont.
Speaking of Fairmonts, 1979–1993 Fox-Body Mustangs and 1978–1983 Fairmonts are close cousins under the skin. The only major differences are the Fairmont’s 5.1 inches of extra wheelbase and the Mustang’s taller cowl height. That’s right. The Mustang cowl is 1 inch taller than the Fairmont’s. This detail allowed stylists to give the Mustang a steeper hood angle for a more exciting side profile.
Fact 36: There’s a strange cylindrical object bolted to the right-front frame rail of every 1994-up 3.8- and 5.0-powered SN-95 Mustang convertible. Not found on the left side or rear of the car, have you ever wondered what it is? Don’t fear. It’s merely a 25-pound seismic dampener tuned to vibrate out of phase with the convertible chassis’ natural frequency, thus taming cowl shake. Sure, the removal of this 25 pounds of “dead weight” should improve quarter-mile acceleration by approximately .025 second, but be ready for extra shakes and rattles if it’s trashed.
Fact 37: More than a few 1962–1966 Ford S/S and FX cars were fitted with mysterious, black coffee-can-sized objects bolted to the outermost corners of the trunk compartment. These “cocktail shakers” were borrowed from massive Lincoln Continental four-door convertible applications, where they served to calm body shake.
Blessed with Ford factory part numbers, who can blame the many Thunderbolt, 427 Galaxie, and SOHC Mustang pilots for wanting a smoother ride down the strip, and to utilize the 30-pound mass (each) as ballast to gain some traction?
Fact 38: Drivers of 1970 Ford muscle cars (and grocery getters alike) had to learn a new start-up routine. After decades of inserting the ignition key into a dash-mounted lock barrel, start-up now involved sticking the key into the right-hand-side of the steering column. Federally mandated anti-theft measures ushered in a new generation of locking steering columns. No key? No start . . . and more importantly, no steer!
Fact 39: Early 1965 GT350 Mustangs were equipped with the same wood-rimmed steering wheel found in the AC Cobra. With three slotted spokes and a medium-thickness wooden rim secured with nine rivets, the 16-inch-diameter unit was a tight fi t for some drivers. After being installed in the first 100 cars (approximately) a smaller 15-inch-diameter steering wheel was adopted. No fewer than six different varieties of the 15-inch steering wheel were used in 1965–1966 GT350 applications.
Fact 40: Sporty Mustangs and sporty front bucket seats are a natural mix. But Ford made a front bench seat available to 1965–1969 customers in need of three-across front seating. Available only in hardtop and convertible models through 1967, but added to the fastback option book for 1968–1969, bench-seat Mustang production was never massive: 17,016 in 1965; 24,587 in 1966; 9,399 in 1967; 8,301 in 1968; and 4,635 in 1969. From 1970 through the current model year, no Mustangs have been factory built with frontbench seating.
Fact 41: 1965 saw an interesting mid-year change in the configuration of the dual-exhaust system installed on A-code (289 to 225 hp) and K-code (289 to 271 hp) Mustangs. Cars built between March and July 1964 used dual straight-fl ow mufflers plus a transverse-mounted muffler located between the rear axle and gas tank. Starting in late July, Ford replaced the transverse muffler with a pair of small resonators positioned just before each tailpipe outlet. The change was made to reduce exhaust-system backpressure and to add a more aggressive tone to the exhaust. Non-performance Mustangs built with 2-barrel carbureted V-8s and inline sixes continued to use the transverse muffler (and a single pipe) through the 1965 model year.
Fact 42: The 1969 Torino Talladega is the only Ford muscle-era package delivered with Drag Pack goodies (power-steering cooler, engine-oil cooler, staggered rear shocks) and an open differential. In any other production setting, the Drag Pack upgrades were only available on cars ordered with a limited-slip differential and 3.91 or 4.30 rear axle gears.
But Ford made an exception for the Talladega. The reason was cost. The Talladega’s expensive 6-inch nose job forced some shortcuts. As such, all Talladegas were equipped with basic benchseat interiors, column-shift C6 automatics, and the aforementioned open 3.25 differential, each meant to reduce per-car losses.
Fact 43: The Ford Toploader 4-speed has earned a well-deserved reputation for near indestructability behind even the most potent Ford powerplant. From the Boss 302 to the Boss 429, the Toploader is up to the task. When it was introduced in 1964, many magazine articles referred to it as the T&C Toploader, leaving readers to wonder what T&C stood for.
A recurring myth claims the letters abbreviate the last names of the drivetrain engineers who hold a patent on its design, Thompson and Collins. That’s simply not true. The T&C nomenclature is a reference to Ford’s Transmission and Chassis division, where the design originated. In its nine-year production run (1964–1973), the Toploader served in virtually every Ford car and light truck line and was available in 133 varieties.
Fact 44: Even though the Toploader was available to Carroll Shelby in 1965, he selected the Borg-Warner T-10 4-speed for use in the GT350 Mustang. With its aluminum case, the Shelby-spec T-10 was many pounds lighter than the all-iron Toploader. Either transmission was fully capable of handling the 306 hp and 340 ft-lbs generated by the GT350’s lightly tweaked 289 small-block. For 1965 builds, these special aluminum T-10s were shipped directly from Borg-Warner to the San Jose, California, Mustang plant for installation right on the line. This saved the Shelby crew from having to handle the laborious task.
Fact 45: The aluminum-case T-10 specified for the 1965 GT350 used 2.36, 1.62, 1.20, and 1:1 ratios. By contrast, non-Shelby 1965 Mustangs equipped with a factory 4-speed used 2.78, 1.93, 1.36, and 1:1 ratios, or a close-ratio version with 2.32, 1.69, 1.29, or 1:1 gear set (standard behind K-code 289 engines).
Fact 46: The billet-steel Manley connecting rods used in every supercharged 2003–2004 Mustang Cobra powerplant cost Ford $56 each. By contrast, the powdered metal, cracked-cap rods used in naturally aspirated V-8s cost less than $6 apiece.
A little math tells you that John Coletti’s dedicated SVT team spent $448 (per engine) on the superior connecting rods to ensure complete customer satisfaction. When you consider that 19,140 of these engines were installed in 2003–2004 Mustang Cobras, the total bill was $8,574,720!
Fact 47: To ensure the supercharged 2003–2004 Mustang Cobra engine could survive Ford’s brutal 300-hour dynamometer validation test process, the aluminum engine block fitted to previous naturally aspirated 4.6 DOHC Cobras was replaced with a cast-iron unit. The extra 60 pounds of nose weight was easily justified by the improved rigidity and ring seal—necessary after the installation of the Eaton 112 belt-driven supercharger.
Fact 48: Most folks are shocked to learn Ford installed Lincoln-based 3-speed automatic transmissions in 59 of the 100 427 Fairlane Thunderbolts built in 1964. The idea was to borrow a bit of Chrysler’s 1962–1965 automatic transmission success formula (softer launches and shifts for reduced tire spin versus a manual transmission).
But the iron-case Lincoln automatic was no match for the lighter, aluminum Torqueflite and most Thunderbolt racers switched to Ford Toploader 4-speed sticks within weeks of delivery. Don’t assume the T-Bolt automatic was simply a commandeered Lincoln unit. Each used a specific aluminum bellhousing to match the FE block, a specific splined output shaft, and other T-Bolt–only details. Finding one today is nearly impossible.
Fact 49: Though Boss 429 engine blocks are unique in many ways when compared to lesser 429 Super Cobra Jet blocks, side-bysideverification can be difficult. To quickly spot a bare Boss block, look for integrally cast raised characters that read “HP 429” located on the driver-side front surface, below the cylinder head mounting deck. A secondary tip-off is the presence of screw-in core plugs.
Fact 50: Of the 2,028 1967 GT500s built, a small handful may have been overlooked by Shelby’s 428 engine swap crew. To set the stage, in 1967, Ford revised the Mustang (and Fairlane) engine bay to accept the FE-series big-block V-8. It was a move intended to keep pace with the (new-for-1967) 396 Camaro and Firebird 400 pony car competitors from General Motors. Mustangs equipped with the 390 big-block carried engine code S in the fifth spot of the VIN. Taking advantage of this development, Carroll Shelby launched the GT500 Mustang in 1967.
In true Shelby form, every GT500 began life as an S-code bigblock 390 Mustang fastback before getting a 428 Police Interceptor heart transplant at Shelby’s LAX modification center. Going further, every GT500 mill was also fitted with dual Holley 4-barrels on a Shelby aluminum, eight-valve, intake manifold and dubbed the “428 Cobra LeMans.” But there’s a rub. Because the 390 and 428 V-8 are visually similar, a handful of 1967 GT500’s may not have been upgraded from 390 to 428 power. If your numbers-matching 1967 GT500 feels anemic, it might be wise to do a P&G cylinder volume test.
Fact 51: Shelby equipped around 50 1967 GT500’s with mediumriser 427 powerplants on a special-order basis. Packing crossbolted main caps, solid-lifter camshafts, better heads, and tougher connecting rods, the 427 is superior to the 428 in every way. Mel Burns Ford of Long Beach, Califonia, ordered several 427-powered GT500s in 1967, marketing them as “Shelby Super Snakes,” a name recently revived by Shelby for use on a sub-series of Vegas-tweaked Shelby GT500 Mustangs.
Fact 52: Production 1969–1970 Boss 429 engines came with beautiful cast-magnesium (early) or aluminum rocker arm covers. Earlier in engine development (before “Bunkie” Knudsen mandated homologation installation in Mustangs rather than Galaxies), the rocker covers were quite different. Instead of the deep scallops and recessed plug wire entries used in production, several engines were built and tested wearing taller, fully finned covers with Chrysler Hemi-esque surface-mounted spark plug wires and bearing integrally cast block letters proudly spelling “F-O-R-D.”
A great color shot of this pre-Boss 429 is seen on the cover of the November 1968 issue of Car Craft magazine. The revamped rocker covers were subsequently whipped up to suit the tighter con- fines of the Mustang engine bay
Fact 53: Ford’s 1960 360-hp 352 High Performance package is generally regarded as the fi rst Super Stock engine. Previous extraperformance Detroit engines (regardless of make) were more aptly dubbed “power packs” because they relied on bolt-on induction upgrades and hotter cams in otherwise unimproved long blocks.
Performance engineers on the Ford 352/360 took a “groundup” approach with beefier rods, specifically cast big-port heads with 2.02/1.55 valves, a solid cam, aluminum 4-barrel intake manifold, and high-flow cast-iron exhaust manifolds. One lucky 352/360 recipient was a young racer named Gaspar Ronda. By the end of his first outing with a factory-fresh Starliner, he’d defeated no fewer than twenty 348- and 389-powered GM competitors in Super Stock action at California’s Half Moon Bay Raceway
Fact 54: In a move intended to ward off excessive warranty hassles, Ford equipped the 1960 High Performance 352/360 with modest single valvesprings, which went into (relatively harmless) valve float at 5,200 rpm. The intent was to give the legally mandated powertrain warranty a fighting chance. For serious competition, racers knew to install stiffer springs. Once done, the stronger rods and improved oil pump stood ready to ensure bottom-end survival at 6,500 rpm. That’s the difference between the super stock and power pack philosophy The extra strength is baked in, not bolted on.
Fact 55: In 1970, Ford warranty cops once again stepped in to protect the free-breathing, rev-happy Boss 302 from over-speeding. This time around, an electronic control box was mounted under the hood and set to interfere with ignition delivery at 6,200 rpm, even though the fully forged, four-bolt bottom end was safe to 7,000 rpm.
In a January 1970 Mustang Boss 302 road test, Hot Rod’s Steve Kelly wrote: “The regular Mustang V-8 wiring loom is used, so it was an easy matter to disconnect the limiter and slip on the regular coil circuitry for our testing . . . discovery of a non-working limiter on a Boss 302 quite likely voids the guarantee on the car and engine. Just remember, all we did was tell you about it.”
The disconnected limiter allowed Steve Kelly to run the canted-valve 302 up to 7,200 rpm repeatedly without damage.
Fact 56: Another quirk uncovered in the January, 1970 Hot Rod magazine Mustang Boss 302 drag test was this comment by author Steve Kelly: “This particular car was equipped with a 2.32:1 lowgear transmission, and a 2.78:1 low-gear box would’ve helped the car’s performance . . . The 2.78 unit is supposed to be in all Boss 302s, but production shortages have forced the installation of the 2.32 transmissions, which are generally reserved for the over- 400-cubic-inch Fords.”
Apparently Kelly wasn’t aware Ford offered the Boss 302 with both transmissions, his test car being fitted with the optional closeratio unit (2.32, 1.69, 1.29, or 1:1). The wide ratio unit (2.78, 1.93, 1.36, or 1:1) was standard, and yes, a better match to the torquedeprived Boss 302.
Fact 57: More intrigue is found within the pages of the June 1968 issue of Hot Rod magazine. The cover shot depicts five exotic Ford experimental engines tagged with the headline: “Exclusive: Ford’s Exotic New V-8’s.”
Part of a Hot Rod tech series that also included similar behind-the-scenes visits to Chevrolet (December 1967), Buick (May 1970), Oldsmobile (July 1969), and Pontiac (March 1968), the feature story illustrates Ford’s early faith in overhead camshafts and multiple valves—the same architecture used on Ford V-8s of the modern age. If you fi nd a copy of this fascinating issue of Hot Rod on eBay, you won’t be disappointed.
Fact 58: The engines featured in the June 1968 Hot Rod article include an intriguing SOHC conversion kit for the 289. Based on a normal 289 (minus pushrods and the in-block cam), each head is fitted with a cast-aluminum cam housing that bolts in place of the stock, tin valve cover. Each housing contains a cam to actuate the stock 289 intake and exhaust valves via direct-acting followers. The cams are driven by an exposed rubber cog belt. The rest of the 289 is virtually unmodified. The article says this test engine was developed, run, and shelved before the 1965 Pontiac OHC sixcylinder engine entered production. Where is it now?
Fact 59: The fate of the mysterious “hemi 429” depicted in the June 1968 Hot Rod story is no mystery at all. With changes to the shape of the rocker covers and paint, it lived on under the hood of the Boss 429 Mustang. An indication of its early identity crisis is the blue paint applied to the entire engine (except for the 8-barrel induction). Before the Boss 429 scheme was finalized by the arrival of Knudsen, Ford intended to call the street version the “Blue Crescent,” and the NASCAR version the “Blue Racer,” hence the blue paint scheme.
Fact 60: The ultimate Ford-produced wedge cylinder head was the Tunnel Port of 1967. Though the exhaust ports shared the familiar rectangular shape found on other FE heads, the intake ports were tubular and so large, the intake pushrods had to be encased in tubes, which bisect each intake port.
Requiring a matched intake manifold (the usual rectangular port castings don’t interchange), the NASCAR-intended Tunnel Port head was never offered on an assembly-line-built engine. Interestingly, though aluminum head castings are as common as water in today’s world, alloy heads were reserved for only the most exotic engines in 1967. Thus, all Tunnel Port heads are made of cast iron.
Fact 61: The 1999–2004 Mustang Cobra adopted a novel independent rear suspension setup based on the Lincoln MK VIII’s aluminum differential case, supported within a tube-steel cage. Though the complete IRS unit added 80 pounds versus the 8.8-inch live axle and four-link used under non-Cobra Mustang GTs, unsprung mass was reduced by 125 pounds, resulting in better ride and handling characteristics.
Fact 62: Shelby GT350 Mustang buyers had but one option to consider in 1965: wheels. Roughly half of the 516 street models were built with Cragar-supplied 15×6-inch rolling stock (aluminum centers mated to chrome steel hoops). The rest came with austere Kelsey-Hayes 15×6-inch, pressed-steel wheels. The irony is that the Cragar/Shelby five-spokes actually weigh more than the KelseyHayessteelies!
Fact 63: Don’t confuse the 1965 GT350 Kelsey-Hayes base rims with rejects from the Galaxie station wagon assembly line. The Shelby-spec steelies feature numerous unique details such as nonrolled vent slot lips and specific back-spacing to suit the Mustang. Contrary to popular belief, these wheels are not painted silver. Rather, the color is Champagne Beige, a standard Ford passenger car hue. They’re highly sought after today.
Fact 64: Federal motor vehicle safety standards prevented Ford’s Chicago assembly plant from producing completely faithful replicas of the Starsky and Hutch Zebra 3 Torino in 1976. Though the 1,001 examples wore a convincing two-tone paint and graphics treatment, it was up to the buyer to install the deep-dish five-slot aluminum wheels, beefy Firestone rubber, and rear air shocks to get the full Zebra 3 effect.
Ford shipped the Starsky and Hutch replicas on basic Gran Torino steel wheels with full wheel covers (or optional five-spoke Magnum 500-style rims). Likewise, Ford’s Chicago assembly plant elected not to emulate the Zebra 3 tail-high stance. All Starsky and Hutch Gran Torinos rode on the standard suspension and sat level. Factory engineers and liability managers (read: lawyers) nixed any notions of tinkering with ride height. That was up to the customer.
Fact 65: The SOHC and pushrod 427 big-block engines fitted to the 1965 Ford Mustang A/FX fleet were too wide to fi t between the stock spring towers. So Ford chassis engineers designed a novel torsion-leaf front suspension that dispensed with the need for cumbersome coil springs and their bulky mounting towers.
Once uncluttered, the Mustang engine bay was ready to accept the 427 heart transplant. The proof-of-concept pilot vehicle (a Poppy Red SOHC fastback) was assembled by Andy Hotton’s DST. Subsequent copies were produced at Holman-Moody’s shop. The relatively minimal surgery required of Kar Kraft to fi t the Boss 429 into the 1969–1970 Mustang engine bay was a walk in the park.
Fact 66: The exhaust header routing of the 1965 427 Mustang A/FX cars interfered with the stock steering-box location. Mounted to the inboard side of the frame, there was no way the two assemblies could co-exist. The solution was to relocate the steering box outside the frame rail, but that posed many mounting problems with the stock Mustang steering box. The solution was found in the use of steering boxes from right-hand-drive Australian Falcons. Their mounting flanges were reversed from their US counterparts and were well suited to the flat surface of the outboard face of the Mustang frame rail. Problem solved.
Fact 67: The front suspension of every 1964 Fairlane Thunderbolt received special, reduced-length upper A-arms. They were needed to compensate for spring-tower reduction surgery performed so the 427 High Riser wedge would fi t. Despite the 1-inchshorter-than-stock upper A-arms, the lower control arms and forged spindles were shared with standard Fairlane models.
Fact 68: More front suspension reworking was performed on Shelby GT350 Mustangs in 1965 and early 1966. This time, the upper A-arms remained stock but their mounting/pivot points were repositioned 1 inch lower for improved geometry. Specific idler and Pitman arms (slightly longer than stock) reduced the steering ratio from 21:1 to 19:1 without the need to change the steering box.
Fact 69: After the first 252 1966 GT350s were produced (they were actually leftover 1965s), Shelby realized the labor involved in relocating the upper A-arm hard-points was generally unappreciated. Thus, the majority of the 2,378 GT350’s assembled in 1966 retain stone-stock Ford Mustang front suspension geometry. The 252 1966s with revised suspension settings are known as “carryover” cars.
Fact 70: One inch seems to be the recurring theme when the topic turns to front suspension layouts used under the noses of the Blue Oval’s top-echelon performance models. Due to the extreme width of the semi-hemi heads fitted to the 1969–1970 Boss 429 engine, Kar Kraft workers were tasked with replacing the stock Mustang spring towers with sculpted replacements (driver side: PN DOZZ- 16055-B and passenger side: PN DOZZ-16054-C), which pushed the upper A-arm mounting points outboard, you guessed it, 1 inch. This created the need for specific Boss 429 upper control arms and spindles to restore order. Though the lower control arms are shared with non-Boss Mustangs, the upper A-arms are 1 inch shorter, to suit the relocated spring tower and A-arm mounting points.
Fact 71: Real muscle cars have five-lug wheels, right? Don’t tell that to owners of 1979–1993 5.0-liter Mustangs! Every one of them was shipped with four-lug hubs and wheels. That said, Mustang spotters were mystified when Ford specified five-lug hubs and wheels for the 19841 ⁄2–1986 turbo-four SVO. Ford finally returned to five-lug status on all Mustangs built for the 1994 model year and beyond.
Fact 72: Hidden beneath the beautiful hand-sculpted aluminum body shell, every Shelby Cobra rides on a lightweight frame consisting of dual parallel tubes running from axle centerline to axle centerline. To keep pace with the brutal 427 FE big-block, Shelby had AC cars increase the main tube diameter from 3 to 4 inches in 1965 when the big-block program was initiated.
Fact 73: Ford offered numerous factory-engineered traction devices on its performance models over the years. Notable highlights include the lift bars used on the 1964 Fairlane Thunderbolt and 1965 Mustang A/FX, the staggered rear shocks employed on 1969- up cars equipped with the Competition Suspension option, rubber-capped traction arms on 1982–1984 5.0-liter Mustangs, and Quadra-Shock vertical/horizontal dampeners installed on 19841 ⁄2– 2004 Mustang V-8 applications. Though performed off-campus under Shelby’s watch, the tubular overrider traction bars fitted to 1965 and early 1966 Shelby GT350 Mustangs shine as another effective traction cure.
Fact 74: One drawback to the 1964–1965 Thunderbolt/Mustang A/FX lift bars is their rigid mounting. With one end of each bar welded to the rear axle housing and the forward ends bolted to a pivot, there is no way for the body to roll—unless something bends or breaks. Gentle street driving is acceptable, hard cornering or aggressive operation over rutted roads is sure to bend the rear axle housing. These cars were designed for straight-line use only.
Fact 75: In 1962 a run of 10 G-code 406 Galaxie sedans was partially constructed on the Wayne, Michigan, assembly line before being sent to DST for final assembly as lightweight drag cars. These were the first Fords built specifically for use in NHRA Factory Experimental drag competition. To help trim race weight from 3,850 to 3,500 pounds, each car was fitted with Lincoln-based aluminum rear brake drums, which made them more competitive at the 1962 NHRA Indy Nationals.
Fast forward two decades to 1979 and you see that Ford installed standard aluminum rear brake drums on all turbocharged Mustangs (optional on all 1980–1983 non-V-8 cars). These light drums measure 9×1.73 and take the same shoes as iron Fox-Body drums.
Fact 76: According to noted lightweight Galaxie historian Dennis Kolodziej, there is no such thing as a “six-cylinder” frame, and claims the lightweight Galaxies of 1962 and 19631 ⁄2 rode on “lightweight frames” are incorrect. His extensive studies indicate that Ford chassis engineers never released cars with thinner side rails or deleted cross members in search of reduced mass. Of note is the availability of an optional Heavy Duty/Police frame, which weighed more than the standard unit and was not the choice for drag racing.
Fact 77: It is true that Ford deleted certain gussets and brackets from the 1962 frame assemblies used under the 10 FX Galaxies. For identification purposes, these frames bear a welded metal tag stamped with the word “modified” and part number C2AA-5005-B.
Fact 78: Ford explored IRS in the 1960s and built some running prototypes in-house. Shelby also had a hand in the IRS cause, creating the EXP500, a 1968 Mustang hardtop (not a fastback) at his Ionia, Michigan, shop. It employed a rigid-mount 9-inch center section, coil-over springs, and articulated half-shafts. Powered by a 428 CJ, the EXP500 was based on a former prototype GT/CS 390 show vehicle. Though the original Shelby-designed IRS was lost, it was faithfully replicated in the 1980s. The car presently resides in the Craig Jackson collection.
Fact 79: In 1969 former Mopar drag star Butch Leal joined forced with Mickey Thompson to build a Boss 429 Mustang for use in the nascent NHRA Pro Stock class. Starting with a Kar Kraft white Boss-Nine, the car was shipped to Holman-Moody &Stroppe in Long Beach, California, for rebuilding. One of the first things to go were the front power disc brakes. Overkill for the 3,200-pound drag strip sprinter, they were replaced by a set of much lighter Mustang 10-inch drums. The Leal Super Stock Boss was featured on the cover of the July 1969 issue of Car Craft magazine.
Fact 80: Though the 10 Holman-Moody SOHC and pushrod 427 2+2s built in 1965 were initially built with Kelsey-Hayes fourpiston K-code front disc brakes intact, when they were sent back to Holman-Moody for stretch-nose conversion for the 1966 drag season, the weighty discs were replaced with 10-inch drum brakes.
The Tasca Ford Mystery 9 stretch-nose 1966 ’Stang initially ran with the drums but eventually discarded them altogether. The rear drums and cross-form parachute were plenty adequate for stopping the 145-mph exhibition stocker. In place of the front drums, teams switched to spindle-mount mags from American Racing.
Fact 81: Three minutes. That’s how long it took to empty the 2003– 2004 Mustang Cobra’s 20-gallon fuel tank with the 390-hp DOHC 4.6 engine running at full power. This number was significant in helping Ford reconsider its unrealistic mandate that all superchargers must be capable of enduring three minutes under full boost (8 psi). In the case of the Eaton blower used for Cobra applications, test engineers successfully lobbied to have the three-minute endurance minimum reconsidered because there is no possible way any Cobra could ever be driven flat out at 150 mph for such a long period. Again, the car ran out of gas—and road— well before the test was over.
Fact 82: Beginning in 1982, all Mustang construction was consolidated within Ford’s massive Dearborn River Rouge plant. That’s where all subsequent Mustangs were built until 2005, when the plant was repurposed for light truck output. Mustang assembly was then transferred to the Auto Alliance International plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, which it shared with Mazda until recently. At the River Rouge plant, it took an average of 30 hours to manufacture a typical 1982–2004 Mustang (excluding convertibles).
Fact 83: To the moon and back twelve times, or 5,531,520 miles. That’s the distance covered by under-construction Fox-Body Mustang convertibles between 1983 and 1993 as they made their way from the Ford River Rouge plant (initial assembly) to Cars & Concepts’ Brighton, Michigan, facility (convertible conversion) and back to “The Rouge” (for final quality-control checks and dealer shipment).
Fox-Body Mustang convertible production totals (all models and engines combined) are as follows: 23,438 in 1983; 17,600 in 1984; 15,110 in 1985; 22,946 in 1986; 21,447 in 1987; 35,500 in 1988; 42,244 in 1989; 26,958 in 1990; 21,513 in 1991; 23,470 in 1992; and 26,300 in 1993.
Do the math and you’ll see how the 20-mile DearbornBrighton-Dearborn round trip adds up to 5,531,520 miles. Considering that we’re just under 239,000 miles from the moon’s surface, the figure gives new perspective to the idea of “seeing the heavens on moonlit nights” in a 5.0-liter Mustang ragtop.
Fact 84: Six weeks. That’s how long it took Ford’s Atlanta, Georgia, plant to crank out the entire 1969 Torino Talladega production run. Each of the 754 specially modifiedFairlaneSportsroof NASCAR homologation cars was built there between January 21 and February 28, 1969.
Every car required fi tment of specially fabricated taper-nose front fenders, a hand-modified front bumper, rolled rocker sills, and unique hood and tail panel blackout treatments. Ford probably recognized the stress such an unusual batch of cars would put on line workers and so got it all over with as quickly as possible, rather than trickle them out over several smaller production runs (as is often done with oddball vehicle packages).
Fact 85: Ford didn’t develop its SOHC 427 in 1965 to sit on the sidelines . . . but unfortunately its exotic chain-driven, overheadcamshaft layout was simply too much for the NASCAR rule makers of the day. Not “stock” enough for stock car racing, they claimed.
In the July 1966 issue of Hi-Performance CARS Roger Huntington wrote: “The rules are aimed primarily at keeping Ford’s wedge engine in the game, and more specifically at putting this engine in the smaller Fairlane that would supposedly have more performance potential on both long and short tracks. They think this would give fairer, closer competition than running the wild OHC engine in the heavy Galaxie.”
If only all concerned could catch a glimpse of the current Car of Tomorrow “stock car” absurdity, the cammer might have been given a pass; and some of NASCAR’s best superspeedway racing would surely have followed.
Fact 86: Two bucks a pound. That’s how much Ford added to the base price of its 19631 ⁄2 427 Galaxie fastback for the inclusion of the DSO AS-225-39D lightweight conversion package. Built only on Ford’s Los Angeles, California, (J in the second spot of the VIN) and Norfolk, Virginia, (N in the second spot) assembly lines, about 200 R-code 427 Galaxie buyers paid the additional $1,400.15 to lose 700 pounds of unwanted dead weight.
Shaving race weight from 4,150 to 3,480 pounds was a move in the right direction thanks to the use of fiberglass fenders, hoods, trunk lids, and front fender aprons as well as the substitution of aluminum for the front and rear bumpers and brackets, T-10 transmission case, and clutch housing. Other less-is-more goodies included police-spec Bostrum bucket seats, a rubber floor mat, and the deletion of the heater, radio, insulation, sound deadener mats, spare tire, and other bits of unnecessary flotsam.
Fact 87: The SFM serial number prefix used on every 1965–1966 Shelby GT350 Mustang stands for Shelby Ford Mustang. While street and race variants were available, the decision to differentiate them with an S (street) or an R (race) in the fifth place of the Shelby VIN tag was not made until after 30 cars had already been completed. Thus, early 1965 GT350 street and race models can’t be differentiated by their VIN tags. Fear not; the Shelby Registry maintains detailed records on these cars to eliminate confusion.
Fact 88: GT40. What’s it stand for? The “GT” part stands for Grand Touring; simple enough. But the origin of the “40” part is a bit more obscure. It’s a reference to the 40-inch overall vehicle height required by international endurance racing rules for GT cars. When Ford reintroduced the astonishing road-going GT in 2004, overall height was 43 inches.
So was that the reason Ford did not reuse the GT40 moniker? Hardly. Ford undoubtedly wanted to use the fabled GT40 nameplate but was prevented from doing so by the unfortunate fact it didn’t own the name. Rather, a small Ohio-based company called Safi r GT40 Spares (yep, they make kit cars and GT40 replacement parts) held the trademark. Though a one-time agreement was struck for use of the GT40 name on the 2002 concept/show car, negotiations unfortunately stalled when discussion turned to the volume-production (4,038 built) 2005–2006 Ford GT supercar.
Fact 89: The legendary Shelby GT350 Mustang. How’d it get its name? With a straight face, Carroll Shelby repeatedly explained it as being the number of paces between the office and work area of his Los Angeles construction facility! Then, with the 1967 arrival of the 428-powered big-block Shelby Mustang, it’s likely Ol’ Shel asked himself, “What’s better than 350?” and juggled numbers around until the GT500 moniker materialized.
Fact 90: The 1965 427 Shelby Cobra stands as one of the most fabled man-made creations of all time (at least if you’re a Ford car buff). The amazing detail is how efficient Shelby’s team was in reworking the 289 Cobra for its new role. From the initial conception of the 427-powered roadster to the first test drive took exactly three months. That’s the same as 12 weeks, 84 days, or 2,016 hours.
Fact 91: The list of carmakers that fiddled with magazine test cars is long. But Shelby? In issue #49 of The Shelby American (published in 1986), former Shelby employee Jim Frank says: “On one particular car we took the vanes out of the Thermactor pump because that used horsepower. We also changed the advance characteristics of the distributor . . . the carburetor was rejetted and we usually dropped the rear end ratios one notch . . . and we’d always have Goodyear mold us a couple dozen tires every year that were made with very soft rubber—drag rubber . . . Road & Track tested one of these cars—a 1969 GT500—and got a zero-to-sixty time of 5.9 seconds.”
Fact 92: What would you do with 4,114 leftover K-code 289 induction systems? The folks at Shelby American’s Venice, Califonia, conversion facilities (and later inside a former North American Airlines hangar) had that dilemma on their hands in 1965–1967 during construction of the GT350. A mandate from the San Jose plant production manager (where all 1965–1967 Shelby GT350s started life) was that each car be able to run under its own power so as not to disrupt operations. So it was up to the Shelby team to remove the stock K-code iron intake manifold and Autolite 4-barrel carburetor once the cars were in Venice for replacement with Shelby’s aluminum manifold and a Holley 715-cfm carburetor.
So what happened to the 4,114 K-code induction setups removed between 1965 and 1967? In issue #44 of The Shelby American (published in 1984), Shelby project engineer Chuck Cantwell says: “We took them off and piled them up in a corner and eventually sold some of them for next to nothing and probably scrapped the rest.” Any K-code restorers reading this today have permission to reach for a Kleenex to dry the tears.
Fact 93: “The vehicle will be one inch lower than any other production Mustang. A below-the-front-bumper spoiler will be stock. All this, plus a slightly modified roof line, seems to indicate a certain amount of thought being given to high-speed stability.”
Those are John Thawley’s words on the new Boss 429 Mustang, as published in the February 1969 issue of Hot Rod magazine. I’m in total agreement with every word except the bit about the “modified roof line.” It just goes to show that even the bestconnected journalists can get it wrong here and there. The Boss 429 shared every micron of its Sports Roof body shell with a T-code, 200-cubic-inch, six-cylinder. There were no aero tweaks applied. The cover photo (shot by Ford Photographic) on the issue offers an overhead view of a pre-Boss “Blue Crescent” 429 installed in a Mustang engineering car.
Fact 94: Ever wonder why FoMoCo engine designers always seemed to have multiple answers to any one question? Let’s face it, there’s only 1 cubic inch separating the 427, 428, 429, and 430 V-8 engines, so why are they all such different designs with few shared parts?
In an April 1968 Hot Rod magazine interview, Ford Special Vehicle Department chief Jacque Passino addresses the situation: “ . . . since 1955, we’ve been handicapped by the efforts of Chevrolet, insofar as their promotion of the 283-type engine is concerned. They’ve been able to build on this basic design while we’ve skipped from a 292 to a 312 to a 332 to a 352 to a 390, 406, 427 . . . you name it . . . I personally feel that, from the standpoint of a performance image, this has been a self-damaging feature of Ford’s performance program . . . In retrospect, if you attempt to race within the framework of all the past engine sizes that we’ve had, it becomes extremely difficult to maintain adequate pace with the competition.”
Fact 95: Getting back to Ford’s bouquet of 7-liter offerings in the 1958–1968 era, the short-stroke 427 and long-stroke 428 are members of the FE engine family, but with its cross-bolted engine block (4.23 bore and 3.78 stroke), the 427 is built for high-RPM racing. By contrast, the 4.13×3.98 bore/stroke of the 428 is better suited to low-speed torque output in station wagon, T-Bird, and medium-performance street muscle applications.
The 429 is an entirely different family, the 385 Lima series. Introduced in 1968 to take over for the FE family, with heads and valve gear closely patterned (dare I say it) after the 1965 Chevy 396 MKIV big-block, the 429’s 4.36 bore diameter, uncommonly short 3.59 stroke, and free-fl owing canted-valve heads are packed with potential—perhaps the most of any non-hemi Ford V-8 engine offering.
Finally, the 430, offered between 1958 and 1965, was used only in massive Mercury, Edsel, and Lincoln luxury cars (and optional in 1959–1960 T-Birds), thus it’s designation as the M-E-L (Mercury, Edsel, Lincoln) series. A very unconventional design with combustion chambers located in the tops of its angle-cut cylinder bores (similar to Chevrolet’s 348/409 configuration), it’s attractively over-square 4.30×3.70 bore/stroke dimensions and 2.09/1.78 valves look good on paper but excess heft, a lack of aftermarket multi-carb induction, and the 1961 arrival of the FE 390 dull the buzz.
Fact 96: One hundred-forty pounds. That’s the weight difference between Ford’s 352 and 351 engines. The 352 arrived in 1958 as a founding member of the FE big-block family and weighs 640 pounds. The 500-pound 351 small-block came along a decade later (1969), building on the 1962 “thin-wall” 221-cube casting.
With its deep-skirt block, hefty long-branch intake manifold architecture, and 4.00×3.50 bore/stroke arrangement, the 352 was Ford’s go-to mill for full-size vehicle applications, often breathing through a 2-barrel carburetor and single exhaust. By taking the 221’s 3.50×2.87 bore/stroke figures out to 4.00×3.50, the 351 served as a stop-gap between the 302 and 390 engines in intermediate and full-size Ford passenger cars. Both engines were practical and popular, but the result of very different market conditions.
Fact 97: Has Ford learned a lesson from its historic tendency toward displacement saturation? Maybe, or maybe not. Observers of the 1991-present Modular engine program often puzzle at the numerous iterations of this free-breathing pushrod-less engine family.
Since 1991 you can get your 4.6 Mod Motor with two, three, or four valves per cylinder. Camahafts? No problem. The two- and three-valve variants can be had with one cam per head, the fourvalve version gets two. The tall-deck 5.4 variant is also available with a similar menu of valves and cams—the supercharged allaluminum four-valve, four-cam DOHC 5.4 used in the 2005–2006 Ford GT being the pick of the litter—for now. In the end, I give the Mod engine family (particularly the DOHC variety) honors for beating the GM LS-series V-8 and Chrysler Gen III Hemi in eye appeal.
Fact 98: Comparisons between the 1965 Holman-Moody 427 SOHC Mustang 2+2 (612 hp), 1969–1970 Boss 429 (375 hp), and 2013 Shelby GT500 (662 hp) are inevitable and natural. The fact is, by far, the Shelby is the most potent of the group. Better still, your local Ford dealer can sell you one if you have the required $55,000. While convertible versions of the cammer and Boss were never made, the GT500 can be had as a ragtop. Pinch yourself, you’re not dreaming. This is reality and it’s amazing.
Fact 99: “Capping our test engine was a dual Carter four-throat assembly that has often been referred to as an eight-barrel carburetor and literally has no end of power to impress viewers when the hood is raised.” Thus wrote Hot Rod magazine’s Eric Dahlquist in an April 1965 road test of a 427 Galaxie 4-speed.
Records show that only 327 full-size Ford customers paid $462 extra for the 427 mill in 1965. I’m not sure where Dahlquist got the idea the Galaxie had dual Carter AFBs, but it’s wrong. The test car’s Medium Riser 427 undoubtedly inhaled through a pair of Holleys. The only factory FE V-8s equipped with a (single) Carter AFB were built in 1958.
Fact 100: “When it comes to dragging the 429 CJ Cobra it’s strictly a ‘stab and steer’ operation. Not that stabbing and steering is better than the other methods, it’s the only way to go. Torque loading or coming off hard are just two ways of trimming material off the tires. Like instant smoke, man.”
Persistence paid, and in the June 1971 issue of HiPerformance CARS magazine, test driver and respected muscle car critic Joe Oldham managed to coax a 14.5/102-mph pass from a 1971 429 CJ/R Torino, despite tame 3.50:1 gears and a 4,100-pound test weight. 1971 was the final year for Torino unit construction and leaf spring rear suspension. 1972 brought a body-on-frame redo with cushy coil springs all around.
Written by Steve Magnante and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks