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180 Mile Pace Car: 1979 Ford Mustang

This 1979 Ford Mustang Pace Car is a timewarp survivor with just 180 miles on the clock. Yes, 180, no zeroes missing. I will never understand why owners choose to stare at a car rather than to drive it but to each their own. The seller is looking for $35,000 or best offer for this specimen, which essentially shows no flaws. The bodywork, stripes kit, lower cladding, interior, and wheels all show essentially no flaws, so this is as close to buying one of these iconic Pace Cars new as you’re going to get. The question is, is it worth it? Find it here on eBay and located in Phoenix, Arizona.

I actually always liked this iteration of the Pace Car, not necessarily for the drivetrain options but for the other details. The Marchal fog lamps, the Recaro bucket seats, the metric wheels – all of those features are straight out of the 80s playbook for automotive accessorizing. I have a soft spot for those seats, as our own Scotty G. grabbed a set out of a Minnesota junkyard for me that will eventually find a home in my blue 1986 Isuzu Trooper project. They even still had the desirable netted headrests intact! Regardless, the ones in this Mustang are perfectly preserved, and would likely command four figures by themselves.

You could get this generation of the Pace Car with a four-cylinder turbocharged engine or the bread-and-butter 5.0L V8. This example comes with the former, paired to the preferred five-speed manual transmission, and looks as you’d expect a near-new engine to look. Of course, the question always is with cars like these is what sort of shape are the hoses in? How often were the fluids changed? What components have perished as a result of the lack of use? The seller even says the Mustang has been sitting in this exact spot for 10 years and not started in that time. Safe to say, there’s some work to do to make this car a runner once again.

It boggles the mind, really. I can understand if you have more money than you know what to do with, so you overfloweth with collector cars. But to not hire a caretaker to turn on the cars once a month and run them so as to protect the investment you’re curating makes little sense to me. Regardless of intentions, it’s hard to justify top-dollar for a time-warp car that’s still going to need a decent amount of work to safely run again – unless the next owner plans to simply pick it up and drop it into their own garage as a static display. Seems like a waste to me, but clearly, I’m not in the business of owning timepieces. Would you show it as-is or refresh the drivetrain and drive it once in a while?


  1. Avatar photo GuernseyPagoda

    Asking to learn: If this is your car, and it is NEVER driven, just parked(like the ad says), is there a benefit for cars to never even be started, or is this done out of laziness, etc? It seems to me that if it is in your garage, then the owner could certainly start it every now and then, or is that a bad idea? If so, why is it bad?

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo RayT

      I’ve always been told that driving — even if only for a few miles on a fairly regular basis — will keep a car alive a lot longer than dead storage will. Circulating fluids and heat-cycling help bearings, gaskets and seals stay in decent shape. So, by the way, does replacing fluids from time to time.

      If I were going to take this on — which I wouldn’t, because the price is way too high for me — I would re-gasket everything, replace every consumable in the brake system, flush all fluids, replace the wheels and tires (this car has the TRX package, which I don’t consider particularly beneficial), and certainly renew all rubber hoses. That leaves out replacing weatherstripping, cleaning the corrosion off various underhood parts and getting the turbo unit serviced (I’ve heard turbos don’t take kindly to long periods of inactivity).

      I like FoxStangs, but would prefer a 5.0 to a TurboPinto.

      And finally: if this were my car, it would ALWAYS be driven. I do not run a museum, and get my fun from driving, not looking.

      Like 19
  2. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    I think Jeff has described the 1979 Pace Car very well. To my eye it was a well-done and attractive package. I particularly like the pewter & black theme with the orange & red stripes.

    I have a friend who also has an ultra-low-mileage example. It seems quite a few of these were saved, it’s not hard to find one, you will usually see one at a big Mustang show. Other early four-eye Fox Body Mustangs, not so much.

    Like 7
  3. Avatar photo unclemymy Member

    Was that 180 miles thru main street in Hell? Where else could the engine compartment get that nasty in 180 miles? Maybe the owner was trying to make it a barn find by blowing dust and crap all over it. It just doesn’t seem that pristeen to me. I really can say I’m not buying it, in any sense of the word.

    Like 14
    • Avatar photo Autoworker

      It looks as if it has more than 180 miles on it. Rust, dirt, even the pedals look suspect.

      Like 7
  4. Avatar photo Mrvans Member

    Gasoline and other fluids go bad over time. Rubber belts, hoses and other components also deteriorate from sitting unused. This pace car may look nice, but it will take some effort and money if you want to make it roadworthy. Otherwise, put it in a museum.

    Like 5
  5. Avatar photo Jcs

    What a shame to ruin such a cool car.

    My collection consists of survivors, at least one from each decade 1960s through 2010s — all with less than 16K miles. Each one is driven regularly. It’s the only way to keep them in tip top shape IMO. Plus, I can’t imagine not enjoying them as often as I do. Understanding that this is just my opinion I will still never understand those that never drive or enjoy their toys.

    Like 10
  6. Avatar photo Tiberius1701

    No to be a noodge, but this vintage of Mustang with the 2.3L Turbo was equipped with the 4-speed ‘Hummer’ transmission. A five speed (The cursed ‘dog-leg’ 5-speed.) did not show up until 1981.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo jwzg

      SROD or single rail overdrive, IIRC.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Tiberius1701

        SROD was the V8 manual in ’79. The 2.8 V6 had a ‘Hummer’ too.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo sowaxeman

      The SROD (4spd) was used from 1979 to 1983. The T-5 made its intro in 1983, not 1981.

      Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Phil B.

    The title should read “speedometer disconnected at 180 miles”.

    Like 14
  8. Avatar photo Douglas Threlfall Member

    I owned a 1979 pace car with the 5.0, automatic, a/c (which was rare in the pace cars) power lock group (also very rare) and the premium sound. Owned back in 1980 w/ only 5,700 miles on it when purchased. Love it.

    Like 5
  9. Avatar photo Ray

    Not started in 10 years worries me about the internals of the engine.

    We need more fabric options like this for seats today! I also was a fan of the houndstooth seat Cougars and Camaros. So tired of black cloth or “leatherette” seats today.

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Michael H Yount

    You’d think the seller would have the sense, purely from a financial impact perspective, to CLEAN UP THE CAR before photographing it. First impressions….

    They made 10,000 of these, some with V8’s, some with turbo 4’s. Both engines had about the same HP (140 for the V8, 131 for the 4), but there was a big difference in torque (250 vs. 142). Pretty gutless. Value from vintage vehicles comes from condition, rarity and desirability. Frankly, because of sitting for the last 10 years, this doesn’t score that high on condition. They’re not particularly rare nor desirable. Suspect any ‘best offer’ will be considerably below the owner’s ask.

    Like 4
  11. Avatar photo martinsane

    It was said bit goodness that car is filthy for never being driven or started.
    Did it sit outside in a duststorm?
    And agreed, i was of the school of thought that starting and moving cars kept them alive. I can only imagine what might need replacing from lack of use.

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Bob McK

    How did that engine get so nasty with only 180 miles? Check out the pedals. Better look very close at this one before buying it. That is a lot of money to spend.

    Like 1
  13. Avatar photo Maynard Reed Jr

    my cousin has one of those mustang’s that is 302 auto. in pristine condition he says it would only be worth $10,000.00. I’m not sure makes this worth $35,000.00.

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo Craigo

    This is one of the Pace car replicas. Describing this version of a Pace car as being Iconic is a streeeetch.

    Like 0

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