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Original Paint: 1979 Ford Mustang Pace Car

In 1979, the Ford Mustang was the official Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. To commemorate this, Ford produced the Mustang Pace Car special edition, with 10,478 cars rolling off the production line. The vast majority of these (8,372) were powered by the turbocharged 140ci 4-cylinder engine, the same as our feature car. Located in Fraser, Michigan, you will find the Mustang listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $3,250, and the reserve has been met.

I’ve always like the look of the Fox Body Mustang, particularly in hatchback form. To me, they were a massive leap forward in styling over the Mustang II, but I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there with varying opinions on that. This particular one looks like a reasonable example that has survived fairly well over the years. The paint and decals are said to be original, and while they are beginning to show their age, the car still presents fairly well. The good people at Ziebart gave the Mustang the treatment at some point, so the only notable rust is a small spot in the roof that someone has hit with some Bondo. That’s something that I would probably investigate and fix fairly quickly. There is also some bubbling just beginning to appear in the bottoms of the doors, but it doesn’t look to be too bad at this stage. The wheels that are fitted to the car aren’t original, but the original wheels and tires are included in the sale.

As previously mentioned, the vast majority of Pace Cars were built with the turbocharged engine, and that’s what you get under the hood of this car. As was mandatory when new, this is backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. The owner says that the car has a genuine 87,000 miles on the clock and that it runs well. He also says that the transmission shifts nice and smooth. The engine bay looks quite clean and honest for a car of this age, and that’s always a reassuring sign. The key to longevity with these engines is proper maintenance, and if the owner has any service records, then that would also be a good sign.

Vehicle manufacturers in the 1970s and early 1980s generally weren’t renowned for producing the best of seats, and this is why we saw quite a few limited edition cars produced with Recaro seats. Their products were considered to be the best, most supportive, and most comfortable seats that money could buy, and they were really only challenged by companies such as Scheel. As a result, it’s not surprising that the Pace Car rolled off the line fitted with the Recaro product. The original seats are still present in this car, but the upholstery is starting to look very tired. The good news is that the owner does have some replacement material for that distinctive black and white patterned insert material, so that gives the new owner a bit of a start in whipping the seats back into shape. The carpet also looks tired, and there are a couple of minor items that are damaged, such as the face vent on the passenger side. Otherwise, the interior has stood up remarkably well.

When the 1979 Mustang Pace Car hit the showroom floors, it was not a cheap car. Retail price was set at $9,012, which made it more than twice the price of a standard Mustang. However, people seemed to be willing to outlay that sort of money. Today, the most coveted examples are the 2,106 cars that were fitted with the 302ci V8, although the turbo edition still performs reasonably well in the market. This one isn’t perfect, but it does look like it is a solid example that could come up well with a bit of restoration work.


  1. irocrobb

    I always liked these and sure did not realize they made so many.I could never figure out why the 302 was roughly the same money new. I would want the V8 for the great sound and better performance.
    This one seems cheap enough but I would think a paint job and decal kit would set you back a huge amount of money. I always think,buy the best you can afford.

    Like 2
  2. Sandy Claws

    Call me crazy, but I miss the metric wheels.

    Like 1
  3. JoeNYWF64

    Those shock towers don’t seem to intrude into the engine compartment like they do on modern cars. hmmh.
    Not sure what Ford & Pontiac was thinking back in the late ’70s, painting over the chrome windshield molding with flat black – maybe “safety” issue? Problem is it peeled off.
    Ford should have lowered the roof & ditched the window frames on this gen stang.
    Or raised the beltline.
    & kept the earlier ford racing mirrors.

    Like 0

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