No Reserve: 1979 Ford Mustang Pace Car Edition

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Jumping to conclusions can be a flawed strategy because it often leads to embarrassing mistakes and missed opportunities. That brings us (almost) seamlessly to this 1979 Ford Mustang Pace Car Edition. It would be easy to dismiss it as a lost cause, courtesy of its baked appearance and acres of surface corrosion. However, that does the car a disservice because it is a rock-solid vehicle that could be a prime and affordable restoration candidate. It undeniably needs plenty of TLC, but with Fox-Body Mustangs one of the star performers in the current market, it could be worth the effort if the new owner adopts the right approach. The Pace Car is listed here on eBay in Phoenix, Arizona. Don’t be fooled by the low auction figure of $1,850 because the auction reached that point following twenty-three bids. With No Reserve in play, this beauty is only days away from finding a new home.

Being chosen to supply the Official Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500 is a great honor, with the Ford Mustang scoring the gig three times. The company always followed the practice of most manufacturers, releasing a Pace Car Edition to commemorate the achievement. The 1979 model year was no exception, with 10,479 buyers driving away in one of these classics. The appearance was distinctive, with the body receiving a few aerodynamic upgrades and the panels cloaked in a stunning combination of Pewter Metallic and Black paint. Examining the supplied images reveals that what remains of the original paint is baked beyond recognition, and surface corrosion is consuming many surfaces. Throwing your hands in the air and placing the Mustang in the “too-hard” basket is easy, but that is the extent of the bad news with this car’s body. The corrosion is the type you typically find on classics that have spent decades exposed to the elements in dry climates, and there is no penetrating rust on or under this Mustang. I won’t pretend the restoration will be easy, but it appears no steel replacement is required. The rear spoiler is AWOL, and the original wheels have made way for a set of Cragars.

The Mustang’s exterior presentation makes its interior appearance unsurprising. The factory radio is missing, but the rest of the interior, including the beautiful Recaro seats, is intact. That is the extent of the positive news because it’s all downhill from there. Everything is baked, with the seatcovers, pad, and many plastic pieces beyond salvation. This part of the restoration could hurt the hip pocket if the new owner pursues the faithful path. Reproduction seat covers in the correct material and pattern are readily available but typically retail for around $1,900 for a complete set. The buyer must add foam to that total before delving into what further parts are required. It isn’t all doom and gloom because most of the remaining items are generic Mustang parts that are affordable.

Pace Car buyers in 1979 could select from three drivetrain combinations to power their new purchase. Ford offered its venerable 302ci V8, teamed with a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. The third alternative was the 2.3-liter turbocharged four, which the company only offered with a four-speed. This Mustang is the forced-induction version and is 1-of-5,970 ordered in that form. The engine would have produced a relatively modest 131hp and 142 ft/lbs of torque, although plenty of owners tweaked their engines to generate far healthier figures. I’m sure none of our readers will be shocked to learn that this Mustang doesn’t run or drive. The seller suggests at least two decades have passed since it last roared to life. It is unclear whether the engine turns, but factoring a rebuild into the restoration budget would be wise.

When assessing the worthiness of any classic as a restoration project, it is easy to allow emotions to cloud judgment. That is as risky as jumping to conclusions because many passionate enthusiasts have lost money by adopting that approach. The turbocharged 1979 Mustang Pace Car Edition doesn’t command the same value as the V8 version, with prices around $20,000 typical for spotless cars. There is room to move on this build, provided two things are considered carefully. A hands-on approach will shave a significant amount off the project and is almost imperative to ensure financial viability. The other factor will be the price when the hammer falls. There is room to move at the current figure, but that margin shrinks as the price climbs. Would you consider pursuing this baked classic further with those thoughts in mind?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    No. Too many nice Mustangs out there to spend time and money on this one. Besides, how do you get any better than a V8 powered Fox body Mustang?

    Like 14
  2. Big C

    Oh heck no! This was a $50 car, back around 1989.

    Like 19
  3. RoadDog

    That is a certified crate. Not even worth a quarter of the current bidding amount. GLWTS, but don’t expect much.

    Like 11
  4. Mark F.

    The reason that it’s a no reserve auction is because it’s worthless.

    Like 19
    • Midway

      Needs new seats, the interiors were mostly plastic and with a 4cyl. I think this would be a labor of love, the interior will set you back 8K, body and paint 6K that’s about all this is worth

      Like 1
  5. Don P

    Those seats look like they experienced a double homicide.

    Like 22
  6. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    I think these Pace Cars were attractive models. That said, this one is too far gone. Beyond the standard “needs everything,” the other issue is that there are plenty of well-kept examples out there, and even in excellent condition they don’t bring big bucks. There are certain parts which are desired for restorations, for example the plastic interior panels faded and deteriorated, so good used ones are valued. Otherwise, I’m not sure this car has any future beyond maybe someone turning it into their version of a low-buck Fox Body hot rod.

    Thanks Adam.

    Like 7
  7. Herbert

    Preserved in a vat of salt water?

    Like 8
  8. Eric in NC

    Do they have a lake near Phoenix where this one died?

    Like 6
  9. Greenhorn

    I’m sure all of you have seen worse, but I don’t recall seeing a Fox body this bad. $1,850? Whatever…

    Like 5
  10. Glenn ReynoldsMember

    As they said about horses ( Mustangs)”rode hard and put away wet”

    Like 1
  11. Steve H

    Someone will make a Grudge race car out of it, already has the look!

    Like 2
    • Steve R

      Nope. There are too many inexpensive turn key race cars available to justify a scratch built car based on economics. Around here you can buy find turn key, used, but not abused, low-10 second bracket cars that have current safety equipment in the $10,000, often less for a grudge night bomber. There is no way you could build something safe with decent parts from scratch for anywhere near that.

      This is best suited as a parts car.

      Steve R

      Like 4
      • Steve H

        A lot of the guys want that look and if you wreck it, which usually does happen in those races, they need a doner body only and transfer everything to it. For a complete build absolutely not. but looking for a doner body would work. Most would not buy a chassis roller as the have their own specs so would rather have a no cage car to start with.

        Like 0
  12. Wademo

    Wow! BAKED!

    Like 2
  13. Troy

    Ok I’m not familiar with Arizona climate but this thing looks like its been in a flood if this sat sealed up how does that much dirt get inside? I would take it on for $100 bucks because I can still crush it for $200 good luck to the new owner if they actually follow through with the purchase.

    Like 3
    • David Ulrey

      I live in Arizona and used to live in Phoenix. Trust me, a car just sitting outside in the elements year after year can get that way. Plus who knows how hard they were on the interior before it was put out to pasture. Also even in places like the Phoenix area and Tucson there are little critters that like to move into sitting stagnant cars. To those screaming salt, highly doubtful. I’m not criticizing or defending this Mustang. Just informing you that cars can get that way here in Arizona too and explaining how.

      Like 0
  14. Michael Freeman Michael FreemanMember

    It looks like they pulled it out of a pond. Just put the $1850 in someone’s mailbox or toss it out the window on the freeway as that would accomplish about as much.

    Like 3
  15. CCFisher

    Get a tetanus shot before touching the outside, and wear a hazmat suit before getting in.

    Like 7
  16. Greg Sullivan

    What a rusty POS!!

    Like 4
  17. Moit

    2k for this well preserved machine

    Like 0
  18. Kilgore Trout

    The currant bid has far exceeded its value. Not to mention that looking at the inside I can almost smell it from where I’m at

    Like 0
  19. Michael Chan

    NOPE. As attractive as the Official Pace Cars were, these 1979 Mustangs were more show than they were go. As someone above already mentioned, even an example in almost showroom condition would not fetch big bucks. 1979 model year had way too many quirks which made it worth relatively less than later model year versions. I’m honestly surprised bids have reached even $1850 so far. And I’m a die hard blue oval fan.

    Like 1
  20. Mark nathenson

    Pace car, this car needs a pacemaker. I live in Arizona and have seen cars baking in the sun for 50 years that looks waaay better…just saying

    Like 0
  21. Malcolm Greer

    Wow, Adam, I can’t wait to see this “beauty” in person! I’m not sure which one of us has their tongue further in their cheek. At first glance, I thought this was a toaster that shorted out. LOL.

    Like 0
  22. C Force

    A Mustang that is worth it’s weight in scrap…..Needs to take a trip over the scales..

    Like 2
  23. Jett

    As much as I love Mustangs, this is the proverbial basket case. It would cost you $40 or $50,000 to turn it into a $20,000 car.

    Like 1
  24. Jett

    As much as I love Foxes, this is the proverbial basket case. It’ll cost you $50,000 (if not more!) to turn it into a $20,000 car. Damn shame.

    Like 1
  25. K. Stemen

    Everyone is forgetting one of the oldest sayings. ….”Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”… I am sure there is a few beholders drooling out there.

    Like 0
  26. Aussie Dave Aussie DaveMember

    Forget that it needs a total restoration inside and out, it’s a 4 banger with a snail. Die hard V8 fan here, but might consider a large capacity straight 6 turbo, (mmm Ford Barra)

    Like 1
  27. PRA4SNW PRA4SNWMember

    SOLD for $2,300.

    Like 0

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