One Owner: 1979 Ford Mustang Pace Car Edition

There will be times when a classic car will appear on our desks here at Barn Finds, and the vehicle will seem to tick all of the right boxes. That seems to be the case with this 1979 Mustang Pace Car Edition. This is a one-owner classic that has a genuine 10,000 miles on the clock. It is original and unmolested and comes with an enormous collection of documentation. Once again, Barn Finder Larry D has demonstrated his uncanny ability to spot great classics. So thank you so much for referring this one to us, Larry. The Mustang is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and has been listed for sale here at Mecum Auctions. It is scheduled to cross the auction blocks on October 15th, and I suspect that the action on this classic could be pretty spirited.

I think the thing that struck me when I first laid eyes on this Mustang was its originality. Its cause has undoubtedly been helped by the car being in the custody of a single owner since it rolled off the showroom floor in 1979. It presents superbly in its original and distinctive Pewter metallic with Black lower extremities. The paint holds an impressive shine, with the only obvious defects being restricted to some small chips on the front bumper. The panels are as straight as an arrow, with no dings, dents, or other problems. The seller doesn’t mention any issues with rust, and there’s nothing visible in the supplied photos. Ford’s original factory-applied stripes are still present and in excellent condition, while the original 1979 Official Pace Car Graphics Kit is still sealed in its original packaging. The spoilers and plastic trim seem perfect, while the car retains its factory-installed Marchal fog lamps and covers. The factory alloy wheels show no evidence of oxidization or physical damage, and they remain wrapped in their original Michelin TRX metric tires.

The Pace Car Edition brought some welcome upgrades to the Mustang’s interior, including a leather-wrapped sports wheel and Recaro seats upholstered in a distinctive material and pattern. It is these second items that have left me scratching my head. I’ve spent some time examining the supplied photos because the Recaros have me puzzled. I can’t determine whether it is a trick of the light or whether that unique upholstery shows more wear and deterioration than I expected in a car with 10,000 miles on the clock. If it is a trick of the light, that’s no drama. However, if it is marking and wear, that could hurt the buyer’s wallet quite badly. Replacement covers are available, but at $1,400 per set, that’s enough to make your eyes water. Looking beyond the seats, the remaining upholstered surfaces appear faultless. The same is true of the dash, console, and remaining plastic components. There have been no aftermarket additions or modifications, with the original radio/cassette player still occupying its rightful place in the dash.

If this Mustang’s interior sends mixed signals, the engine bay provides more of the same. The car features its numbers-matching 302ci V8 that is backed by a manual transmission. Power steering and power brakes take the “heavy lifting” out of the driving experience. With only 140hp on tap, this Mustang should take 16.5 seconds to cover the ¼ mile. There’s no doubt that the glory days for the Fox-Body Mustang were still a few years away when this one rolled off the production line. Once again, the engine bay is unmolested, and everything appears to be original, right down to the plug wires. However, the engine bay doesn’t present as well as I would expect for a car with 10,000 genuine miles on the clock. There is surface corrosion in a few spots that I wasn’t expecting, but there’s nothing horrendous or deal-breaking. The documentation that comes with the car is enough to make your head spin. This includes the original Window Sticker, Owner’s Manual, Build Sheet, Ownercard, Shipping Invoice, Bill of Sale, and dealer promotional material. There’s also an extensive collection of receipts, and if these are for services, they could serve to verify the mileage claim.

Ford produced 10,487 examples of the 1979 Mustang Pace Car Edition, which doesn’t make these a particularly rare car. However, traditionalists tend to feel that those equipped with the V8/4-speed drivetrain combination are the pick of the bunch. That’s where this car scores well, as it is 1-of-2,402 that were so equipped. Its exterior presentation is virtually flawless, but there are some questions in the back of my mind about the seat upholstery and engine bay. I usually advocate for in-person inspections for classic cars, and unlike most eBay or Craigslist listings, potential buyers have some time up their sleeves on this one. The Pace Car Edition shares one crucial trait with most of its Fox-Body brethren; Values have been increasing significantly in recent years. Admittedly these earlier cars have been working off a relatively low base, but the gains are undeniable. As recently as five years ago, this car would have struggled to reach $10,000 at auction. If everything passes muster on inspection, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the bidding pass $20,000. Have you seen enough to motivate you to pursue this one further?

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Comments

  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Nice 110000 mile car.

    Like 8
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I am also the original owner of 1979 Mustang.

    This is a very nice car in very good condition. The discussion will undoubtedly center on the mileage. Of course none of us can say for certainty what the actual mileage is. But I can attest that the underhood conditions on these cars were not very impressive, even when new. Unpainted components, poorly painted components, pieces which simply lost their finish. Then they rusted or tarnished. This happened even under the best of conditions, unless the car was never driven and never subjected to humidity.

    And inside, the Recaro upholstery is infamous for deterioration, even if lightly used. It seems to be more of a matter of the passage of time.

    Remember these were ‘cheap’ cars at heart, and the components (including the interior) weren’t high quality. And given they were hot sellers in 1979, I’m sure they were being rushed down the assembly line; quality control was poor.

    All that said, the rest of the car looks good, not like a 100,000 mile car. Thus overall I suspect it is a low-mileage 42 year old car which did see some use.

    As for these Pace Cars, I thought they came across as well-done, eye-catching packages without being gaudy. They were still malaise era cars with the inherent issues, but for their day they had decent performance. Despite production of 369,000 Mustangs that year, few 1979’s survive, and the main ones seen are Pace Cars. They don’t fetch big numbers but prices are rising. They make for a good collectible from this era.

    Like 14
  3. Steveo

    $10,000 five years ago is about $20,000 today.

    Like 1
  4. Larry D

    Thank you for the kind words, Adam. They are highly appreciated.

    Like 1
  5. Marko

    Nice car, but good luck finding tires to fit those original TRX wheels.

    It’s cheaper to buy reproduction non metric replacement wheels, and go with regular 15 inch tires.

    Like 4
  6. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Hmmm I live in Chattanooga and don’t recall ever seeing this Pace Car out at any shows so guess it mostly stayed garaged. It might be too that they recently located here as the original selling Dealer was in NY which might account for the “open” conventional rear axle as well.

  7. douglas hunt

    did they make these with the turbo 4cyl? i remember my buddy having one of these with the 4cyl turbo, and it was done up in the same colors, that was my first experience with recaro seats outside of the car mags in exotics, i was quite smitten with those seats

    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      Yes they also came with the turbo 4. Assuming the google numbers I found are correct, 57% had the turbo 4.

      Like 1

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