Modified California Special: 1968 Ford Mustang GT/CS

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The Ford Mustang California Special is a looker, thanks to its variety of cosmetic add-ons that made the standard-issue car far more aggressive and sporting. They are rare to find in any form today, with just over 4,000 made and heavily oriented towards the western United States. While rarity can certainly drive value, they haven’t achieved Shelby-like status, likely due to the lack of any actual performance modifications to go along with the package. This seller of a modified 1968 California Special here on Facebook Marketplace has addressed that shortcoming with a built 302, dual exhausts, and upgraded wheels and tires, with an ask of $22,500.

This is probably one of my most favorite Mustangs ever written about here on Barn Finds. I’ve always liked the California Special for its add-ons that some might consider tacky: the side scoops, rear spoiler, Ford Thunderbird taillight panel with sequential signals – yes, I love it all, but the nose is my favorite feature with those sexy Marchal fog lamps. The way the seller has modified this one, namely with the larger wheel and tire package, just puts it over the top for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the suspension has been tweaked as well because it sits perfectly over what I presume to be Bullitt-style wheels.

The interior is described as original, which is truly impressive considering the condition it is in. White on black is a great combo, and knowing you don’t have to freshen up a sun-damaged cabin is a huge advantage to buying an example like this. The California Special was also known by another name, the “High Country Special,” when it was sold in Colorado. This was from a time when the special regional editions actually took into consideration the styles of a given spot in the country, as opposed to now when the vehicle just gets a sticker slapped on the bed and a free plow attachment, and thus the “New England” edition is born. The marketing ingenuity has truly left the building in Detroit.

The 289 and C4 automatic transmission was the standard-issue combo for the California Special, but that engine has been yanked in favor of what the seller calls a “built” 302. We can only assume this to mean there are some internal upgrades, but that word can mean so many things to so many people. Hot cam? Headers? Who knows, but given the overall cleanness of the presentation here, I would have to believe the engine does possess some actual upgrades. This California Special isn’t so far removed from being returned to near-1oo percent stock condition that it couldn’t be returned back to original specs with ease, but I think it should stay exactly the way it is now. What about you?

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  1. alphasudMember

    I thought so! Sale pending. Man that car checks my boxes for a really nice cruiser. Killer price IMHO.

    Like 11
  2. Steve Clinton

    Worth every penny. I just wonder why it’s taken 3 days to sell.

    Like 9
  3. Isherwood

    These models are still not getting the value attention deserved. Further GTCS gems include finding one with an original 4spd and ones that include the FoMoCo smog factory install. The Meadowlark Yellow is a nice paint combination. Please keep the GTCS featured on the page. Thanks.

    Like 7
  4. lance

    I would like a 351c with 4 speed i just find them a more durable engine and easy to upgrade! I have only seen one California special up close and they are a nice version of the mustang

    Like 3
  5. Ralph

    Remember these as a kid, they still are really sweet looking and this one is really nice.
    Always wanted one of these, maybe one day.
    Could have took a few days to sell cause no one really knows when the world is gonna stop burning down…hard to commit money at a time like this for us average car guys.

    Like 4
  6. bobhess bobhessMember

    As nice as it gets. All the hoopla over Mustangs going on doesn’t overshadow how great a car this is.

    Like 6
    • Howard Kerr

      Since I figured that I would never have the money for a real California Special, I came up with the idea of incorporating many of the styling bits into a slightly newer, slightly less popular, and therefore CHEAPER 1970 Mustang. Unfortunately, finding a decent candidate for my transformation has been difficult. In the meantime I found a nice 06 Mustang convertible with very similar looking wheels.

      Like 0
  7. Charles Sawka

    I’m 70 and worked as a mechanic and restorer my whole career. I have never seen one of these other than in books and magazines !

    Like 3
    • lance

      as i said in my post i have seen 1 and that’s all but i live in canada so maybe the model wasn’t popular here ? anyway good to know there’s a few old grease monkeys still kicking around!

      Like 1
  8. Craig

    Very nice stang , look forward to seeing more and maybe a purchase

    Like 1
  9. Keith

    Looks to be nicely restored. But they put the ‘California Special’ emblems in the wrong place on the passenger side after likely replacing that quarter panel.
    The ‘Special’ should be below and after not below and forward of the ‘California’. Similar to the drivers side emblem placement. Unfortunaly that means several holes in the quarter in the wrong place.

    Like 4
  10. James427

    You can buy all of the parts to make a California Special these days. Hardest parts to find are those Marschal fog lights. Always liked these.

    Like 2
  11. Tony

    These were available with any of the mustang engines offered, including the 200 cid 6.
    And as stated above, the CS script on the right 1/4 is installed incorrectly.
    And despite the fact they used the same ‘65 tbird tail lights as the 68-70 Shelby, these were not sequential. Although I rewired a few of them with cougar harnesses to have the sequential lights.

    I owned 2 of them in the past.

    Like 2
  12. Harcourt Mudd

    I would put a luggage rack on the trunk. I love luggage racks.

    Like 1
  13. Troy s

    Leave it as it sits.
    Please, dont turn it back into another wimpy 289-2 powered parade/show
    and shine Mustang.
    Aggressive looks from the tires on up, hopeful some real mods to the 302 and loud choppy mufflers, sounding like Steve McQueen’s green fastback.
    These are good looking Mustangs for sure, seen more than a few here in…..California of all places!

    Like 0
  14. CaCarDude

    Back in the early 2000’s there was an older gent that drove one of these regularly in my neighborhood. It was the same light yellow color. Sacramento’s Arden Arcade area. I used to see him several mornings on my way to work, he was likely retired and just out cruising during the nice sunny mornings. I always was a fan of the early fastback Mustang and these CS cars.

    Like 0
  15. Jwaltb

    Fake scoops right? I don’t get the love for cosmetic fake add-ons.

    Like 0

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