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72k Original Miles: 1979 Ford Mustang Indy Pace Car Edition

It is the month of May, meaning that we are only two weeks away from the annual running of the iconic Indianapolis 500. The television audience for this event is enormous, meaning that the vehicle chosen as the event’s Pace Car gains significant public exposure. The Fox-Body Mustang was the weapon of choice for 1979, and Ford leveraged this by producing 10,478 Pace Car Replicas. Our feature car is one of those vehicles and is 1-of-2,402 featuring the mighty 302ci V8 coupled to a four-speed manual transmission. Its overall condition is in keeping with the seller’s claim that it has a genuine 72,000 miles on the clock. However, the time is right for it to find a new home, so the owner has listed it for sale here on Craigslist. The Mustang is located in Laurel, Montana, with the seller setting a price of $12,000. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Pat L. for unearthing another great classic for us.

Ford produced the Pace Car Edition in distinctive Pewter metallic with Black lower extremities. Our feature car wears its original paint, and while the photos aren’t the best, they show a classic shining nicely under the sun. The paint exhibits no evidence of patchiness, while the panels are as straight as an arrow. The owner doesn’t mention any prior repair work or repainting, and the overall condition suggests that it has been stored away from damaging UV rays when not in use. There is no visible rust, the stripes and graphics look crisp, the plastic aero additions are undamaged, and original features like the Marchal lights and sunroof are present and in good condition. One notable change is the aftermarket wheels, which are a practical consideration. The Pace Car would have featured metric wheels when new, but these never took off in the market. Locating tires to fit those wheels is difficult and expensive, so the owner swapped to these alloys with new tires. For purists, they include the original items in the sale.

The Mustang’s interior sends mixed messages because its overall presentation is good, except for a glaring fault. The dash looks excellent, with no UV damage or other problems. There’s no crumbling plastic or evidence of abuse and no aftermarket additions. The factory AM/FM radio/cassette player is intact, as is the leather-wrapped sports wheel. However, the unique seat upholstery shows its age, and this could prove an expensive problem. The driver’s seat exhibits wear in the center, although the outer bolsters look okay. The back seat seems to have some heavy stains, and I’m unsure whether cleaning would remove these. I would consult a professional first because replacing the seat covers will lighten the buyer’s wallet to the tune of $1,500. Otherwise, this interior appears to need nothing.

Buyers in 1979 could order their Pace Car Edition with a choice of two motors offering different design philosophies. Some selected the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 131hp, while those seeking familiarity could opt for a trusty V8. The seller supplies no engine photos, but we know plenty about its drivetrain configuration. The engine bay houses Ford’s venerable 302ci V8, producing 140hp and 250 ft/lbs of torque. While 2,106 buyers elected to leave shifting duties to a three-speed automatic transmission, this is 1-of 2,402 ordered with a four-speed manual. In 1979, the Mustang was still a few years away from recapturing its performance credentials. However, a ¼ mile ET of 16.5 seconds would have looked okay at the time. This Mustang runs and drives well, needing nothing more than a new owner. The seller describes it as “awesome,” which is pretty reassuring. They claim it has a genuine 72,000 miles on the clock but fail to mention verifying evidence. If I were a betting man, I would say that the car’s overall condition makes the claim seem plausible. There simply aren’t enough signs of rough edges or deterioration suggesting that the Pace Car has actually clocked 172,000 miles.

While many enthusiasts focus on later editions of the Fox-Body Mustang, certain earlier versions are gaining traction in the classic market. The Mustang was still a few years away from regaining some of the performance lost during the early years of The Malaise Era, but the 1979 Indy Pace Car Edition is one of the early examples experiencing increased popularity. This car isn’t perfect, but the asking price looks pretty competitive if the odometer reading is verifiable. It has only been on the market for little more than a day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a buyer emerges relatively quickly.

Comments

  1. Avatar photo FordGuy1972 Member

    My wife had the exact same car years ago. We swapped in an aluminum intake and a 4-barrel carb to give it a little more punch. The car was in great shape except for the seats; they were worn and soiled. Back then, I couldn’t find original material and to be honest, I didn’t like the B&W design, so I picked out a solid black Porche cloth material. The seats turned out great and blended in with the interior nicely. I enjoyed driving it as it was lots of fun with the 4-speed, and it was a real eye-catcher.

    Like 13
  2. Avatar photo Tony Primo

    The Michelin TRX OEM tires were hard to source in the 80’s. I can only imagine how much they want for a set today.

    Like 8
  3. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    1979 was a high-volume production year for Mustangs, 369,000. But like the typical “basic” car, most are long gone. It is uncommon to see a 1979 (or other early Four Eye) at a Mustang show; when a 1979 does appear, it’s usually a Pace Car. I’m sure that is because of the “we’ll save this specialty model, it will be worth zillions” mindset.

    In my eye, this was an attractive package, with the pewter/black/orange theme. They did have their weaknesses: the upholstery was particularly frail, the pewter paint like similar blues and silvers of the era didn’t wear well, low-rent interiors, plus the fact they were simple cars at heart.

    This example has had good care to look this decent at age 43. 302 4-speed is the preferred drivetrain.

    Coker has the tires. They are not cheap, but at least available, and maybe not as much as you might guess (given the price of today’s high-performance tires).

    Thanks Adam.

    Like 12
  4. Avatar photo Rw

    Your are right Tony P that’s why it has the horrible aluminum saw blades that couldn’t even clock the same on each side.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Tony Primo

      I hear you Rw, I wouldn’t put those wheels on my utility trailer.

      Like 10
    • Avatar photo PRA4SNW

      Yeah, I noticed right away that the wheels don’t face the same on each side of the car.
      I’m surprised that the owner doesn’t notice this.

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo Neil

      Yup, I noticed the ‘wrong way’ wheels right away. On the bright side, the owner can swap sides and have them all point one direction. So many cars now have ‘directional’ wheels but put the same ones on both sides. It makes me frown and shake my head. Lazy/cheap OEM…

      Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Mike Hawke

    You can buy reproduction TRX wheels in a 16″ size. A set with tires was about $1200 out the door last time I checked. Four Coker TRXs in metric would cost hundreds more.

    Like 8
  6. Avatar photo Stan

    4 spd makes it 👍😎🙌

    Like 5
  7. Avatar photo Motorcityman

    84 and up r the years 5.0 u want if u want to keep it stock.
    They were pretty low on hp until then.
    If I remember right they also came with factory dual exhaust in 84.

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo Rick Member

    I remember that those seats were Recaro seats.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Motorcityman

      The Recaros might have been a option, not sure.

      Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Douglas Threlfall Member

    No air conditioning. You’re going to sweat you ass off in that thing here on humid as balls east coast. No air, no deal.

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Nick

    I had one of these in the late 80s when living in the Sacramento area. Still have a trophy from a car show & ribbon & hat from Sacramento Fair when I was asked to display car. Had a 302 & automatic. Gas mileage not the best.
    Very reliable. Had to replace drivers seat cover. Spent $300.00 on custom sheep-skins so wouldn’t have to do it again as Recaro covers hard to get. Wish I never sold it.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Rich @ Tops unlimited

    We converted a lot of those cars to t tops in the day as the real pace cars were t top equipped and the “street” versions were pop up sunroofs, built 3 with roush drivelines into t top cars for a customer in southern pa, nice ride

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Kirk

    Always liked early mustang like this 79 over the newer ones to come in thr 80s . They just have a nice clean look and lines especially with the right size rubber under them ..ie .. bigger.. had a friend whose mom actually bought him a 79 Cobra yellow with black louvers on the windows 302 w/ manual . I was very jealous as it was about one of fastest quick little cars I’d been in at the time . Every one else at that time was driving either small cars with even smaller engines or big cars like Ltds or impalas that all sounded and worked like they had big vacuum cleaners under the hood. So not including modified stuff that mustang as a stock vehicle was quite impressive. The bright yellow was quite eye catching as well and would not have been my 1st choice had it been mine. Over all 79 mustang ìs a great car and this looks to be well cared for and well worth the asking price

    Like 2
  13. Avatar photo Roland Schoenke

    My friend flipped his end over end while racing another friend with a ’78 trans-am . He went through the sky light and lived to tell about it. He wasn’t a good driver.

    Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Shane Webster

    I bought one when I was 16 as my first car and drove it through High School. It was stolen and trashed at the end of my senior year. I’m still looking to buy another one but they’re hard to find and I’m very set on it being the 302 4-speed.

    Like 0

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