Five Forgotten Ford Mustangs

1970 Mustang Quarter Horse CJ redFifty years ago today, the Ford Mustang made its official debut. To remember the event, we feature five Mustangs that history has largely forgotten. 



To great fanfare, the Ford Mustang was officially introduced at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964, exactly 50 years ago today. Naturally, the enthusiast media will be marking the anniversary with loads of Mustang-related feature material.

As you know, here at Mac’s Motor City Garage, we like to celebrate the orphans and oddballs of the automotive scene. So to mark the golden anniversary of America’s favorite ponycar, we focus on five fascinating Mustangs that maybe aren’t so well known today. Happy birthday, Ford Mustang. May you enjoy 50 more.


1965 Ford Mustang BertoneThe one-of-one Mustang Bertone was created when Automobile Quarterly publisher L. Scott Bailey suggested that the brand new Ford Mustang would make an ideal canvas for the renowned Italian design house of Nuccio Bertone. (The car’s lead designer was a young Bertone stylist named Giorgetto Giugiaro.) Shown once in America at the 1965 New York Auto Show, the Mustang Bertone hasn’t been seen since, but rumors abide that the car still exists.


1989 Ford Mustang conceptThis is the notorious 1989 design concept that, in the eyes of many enthusiasts, nearly killed the Mustang as we know it. Based on the Ford Probe/Mazda 626 platform, this Mustang featured a transverse front-drive layout with I4 and V6 engines. But in the 11th hour, Ford elected to stay with the traditional V8 rear-drive Mustang format, fortunately.


LID Mustang three viewOn the one-off LID Mustang prototype, constructed from a 1969 Mach 1 Sportsroof, LID was short for Low Investment Drivetrain—mid-engine layout done on the cheap. A Boss 429 engine and C6 automatic transmission were turned around backward and installed over the rear axle centerline, connected to Ford 9-inch center section via a marine-type transfer case. Note the Lincoln wheel covers, used to hide Toronado-style reverse-offset wheels. However, the mid-engine configuration didn’t perform significantly better than the standard Mustang layout, and the single test mule was crushed, reportedly.


Ford Mustang Concept Station Wagon 10-28-1966Ford has experimented with sport wagon versions of the Mustang on several occasions, including this 1966 studio model, and again in 1976 with a Fox-based prototype complete with vinyl wood on the sides. Does a Mustang shooting brake make sense? What do you think?


Mustang Quarter Horse CJA parts-bin special, the 1970 Mustang Quarter Horse, also known as the Composite Mustang, featured a Boss 429 body shell married to the underutilized Shelby front doghouse, a Cougar dash assembly, and a 428 CID Cobra Jet engine. Two proof-of-concept vehicles were built: this Grabber Blue example and the snappy red job in the lead photo at the top of this page. Both cars survived and reside in private collections, reportedly.


18 thoughts on “Five Forgotten Ford Mustangs

  1. Everybody should own at least 1 Mustang in their life.( I owned 2, a ’88 5.0 notchback, scary car, and a ’95, V-6, 5 speed, very nice car) Two more forgotten Mustangs are the 1968 “California Special”, and even rarer, Colorado’s “High Country Special”.

    • I have been fortunate to own a few when I was a younger man:
      1965 2+2 a code 4speed
      1967 gt a code 4speed
      1971 sportsroof q code 4speed
      1973 f code mach1
      1971 m code mach 1 4speed (under resoration)

    • In Green Bay there is a ’68 California Special that the owner bought new then gave it his mom when he later got drafted into the Army. Years later she gave him back the car, still in his name, she never changed the registration. He still has the car and occasionaly will attend local car shows.

    • Howard, Those cares are certainly NOT Forgotten. of the 1.300 California Specials made, aprox 90% of them remain, And there is even a Registry of the GT/CS out there ? And people know about the Colorado’s “High Country Special”. People own and drive them, matter in fact, You can even buy scale Model cars of it, I own one !

      Mustangs wich people do not know, or have Forgotten are cars like the 1967 Mustang Ski Special, a car build for the Ski Minded indivudual. other famous Mustangs are the Twister Special, the Sprint 600, the Mustang E, the Mustang Grabber Special, and the List Goes on and on 🙂

  2. The composite cars look like Camaros. And the station wagon looks like a Dodge Magnum. The Bertone looks like a Ferrari(?). Makes you wonder if there are revolving doors on the design centers of each manufacturer. Or maybe it’s like musical chairs. Every couple of years the designers all switch companies.

  3. I also thought the “Quarter Horses” looked like Camaros, but they’re good looking. I didn’t get the same impression from the genuine 69/70 Shelbys at the time.

    I would have bought a Mustang wagon (or the oft-pictured Firebird wagon), but i don’t like the headlight/grille treatment on that one. I have a thing for small wagons and pickups. However, most of the time the rear wheelwells intrude so much that you can’t carry anything useful. It wasn’t so bad when you could see the wheelwells but now they pretty it up with cladding that runs the length of the cargo area.

    I thought the Mustang\/Probe was a good idea at the time – more sports car, less front-heavy truck. But I’m glad better minds prevailed, the current Mustang is a great car. For the record, I thought the Eighties Mustang was a bigger disgrace than the Mustang II.

    As to the Bertone…I like it very much but they had one go-to design that they used over and over. This looks like a Fiat, like an Isuzu, like an Iso, etc. Giugiaro did a Mustang custom in 2006 that I liked a lot.

  4. The LID would make great use of the generous boot space in a 69,,,,none, with a C6 in there it would be zero! They would have had to fill in the engine bay so as to make a practical car. I vaguely remember a drag car built in a similar fashion.

  5. What about THE forgotten mustang I, it never officially made it to production, but was introduced back in 62 or so.

  6. 2 ’92 5.0s, a 93 5.0, 91 GT convertible, 2 86 GT’s, a 79 Capri, AND a 87 Cougar with a 5.0 ho…..I love my Fox body mustang, and soon a Terminator Cobra, or Newer Coyote 5.0…..

  7. I sure would have bought the wagon as I had a ’74 Pinto Squire at the time! That got sold to buy my ’78 Thunderbird – which I still have! The only Mustang I never should have sold is my ’66 Shelby GT350H but do still have my ’85 LX 5.0 convertible – also bought new.

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