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Rough Pace Car Project: 1979 Ford Mustang

We become so accustomed to seeing pace cars kept in heated garages and as the centerpiece of showrooms that it’s easy to forget they can become a complete and total project just like any other car. This 1979 Ford Mustang pace car has clearly been on a downward trajectory for some time, deep in the recesses of project car hell given it needs practically everything. The seller does note, however, that the car is dry inside and out, so while it will certainly need extensive cosmetic refreshment, rust repair won’t be part of it. Find the Pace Car here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $3,800 and located in Henderson, Nevada.

The seller notes it has been stored in the desert for the last 25 years. It’s a real-deal pace car with no accidents in its history file, but it was clearly parked for restoration and never put back together. In fact, the seller notes that the previous owner sadly passed away before having the chance to see this turbocharged Mustang through to its natural conclusion. While being desert stored is essentially a good thing, it’s unfortunate that it was apparently left outside for some of those years. Mileage is indicated as being a touch under 80,000, and there’s DMV paperwork to back that up.

The interior is completely wasted by the harsh desert sun, leaving a pair of ruined Recaros in its wake. That reminds me – I had Scotty G. pick up a set of these from a Minnesota junkyard way back when. We need to find a way to meet somewhere in the middle, as I’m itching to drop them into my Trooper project. Anyhow, these seats can be restored, and don’t mind the cushion sagging – that’s just because the tension straps have given way. The dash looks plenty rough and the carpets don’t look much better; the rear hatch area is clean and comes with a California blue plate.

You could order your pace car with either the four cylinder turbo or 5.0L V8 powerplant; this one has the former, paired to the preferred manual transmission. It doesn’t appear that much work has happened under the hood, but it’s also hard to tell given the thick coating of dust. The Mustang will need the full assortment of deferred maintenance tackled, along with a respray and interior restoration. It’s a big project, but if you’ve got a friend with a paint booth, it’s not insurmountable. Or, you could refresh the drivetrain and suspension and leave the desert patina in place. Which way would you choose?


  1. angliagt angliagt

    Why do they always seem to leave the air cleaners off?

    Like 2
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I always thought these Pace Cars were particularly attractive. It seems quite a few were kept, it’s not hard to find one. So they are available, across the spectrum of conditions. Well-kept examples, or restored ones, don’t fetch big bucks. So a restoration on this one would likely end up being a “labor of love” operation. And I don’t think the Pace Car carries the “patina” look very well, as the attraction for me is the striking pewter/black/orange paint scheme. So this dried-out example would be a tough call.

    Like 5
  3. dogwater


    Like 7
    • Phlathead Phil

      I’m in FULL agreement.

      Spending money on junk to get junk, is a junky idea.

      Like 0
    • Arthur

      @dogwater: I suspect that a professional hot rod shop specializing in customization wouldn’t be bothered by such an issue if they were to buy this car.

      Like 0
  4. Bill

    Well the owner would take $3600 off and pay shipping it might be worth the price

    Like 3
  5. GPAK

    Those Fishnet Headrests will pull
    $3600 each these days.

    Like 0
  6. lc

    Ranchero next to it looks nice.

    Like 0
  7. Arthur

    If the Predator engine in the new Shelby GT500 was available in crate form, this Pace Car Mustang would be a good candidate for such an installation, particularly if it was fitted with an Art Morrison or Roadster Shop chassis.

    Like 0
    • lc

      I would imagine that you are talking about modern 4 cylinders, and not the older cars like Pintos and Chevettes.

      Like 0

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