Wonderful Survivor: 1968 Ford Mustang California Special

This 1968 Ford Mustang GT California Special is an impressive survivor, highly original in its condition and still wearing its California black plates. The seller provides a compelling narrative as to the car’s longtime West Coast roots and long-term ownership in the hands of an elderly couple. It does have needs but few C/S are likely this honest. Find it here on eBay with bidding over $9K and the reserve unmet.

While you can argue back and forth about the novelty factor of the California Special, there’s little doubt these are rare cars that don’t often come up for sale in this sort of condition. The seller notes that it shows mostly original paint and that the cosmetic pieces specific to the CS kit are all present and accounted for. The listing notes the original fiberglass tail panel is cracked.

This photo shows the longtime owner before passing it on to the seller. The eBay listing describes how the couple owned the car well into their later years for driving to appointments and errands before it simply became too difficult to use daily. The owner begrudgingly handed over the keys and the memories, as he bought this car for his wife on her birthday.

Inside, the driver’s seat has been replaced but the rest of the cabin is said to remain original. The dash pad isn’t cracked, and the seller notes that all the lights and signals are operational. A large amount of spares are available to purchase separately, including a replacement taillight panel, California Special script/graphics kit, and original Cobra 289/302 valve covers.

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Comments

  1. TimM

    Nice car looks to be solid and was cared for to some extent!! Replacement of the driver seat says it was driven!!!

    3
  2. Jay E.

    A steal at this price. It is so hard to locate these unrestored drivers. If it was a Mopar it would already be at 30K!

    3
  3. dirtyharry

    I remember these when they came out. It was a Ford/Shelby marketing ploy ,to sell more cars in So Cal. Most were this combo, 289/2V/auto. I thought it looked good, except the 65 Thunderbird tail lights look tacked on and they were not sequential like the Cougar either. I hope it isn’t restored. There is enough left just to clean up and drive as is.

    7
    • WR Hall

      I do know of one special order 4 speed. My Dad had a servce station and a Ford dealer lived in the Hood, his son would buy gas from us once in a while and had a GTCS with a 4speed,

      1
  4. BRAKTRCR

    In February of 1975, I loaded up my Rambler wagon, with all my worldly possessions, and left suburban Chicago. I headed to Southern California, and through my brother, got a job at a large Chevron station. Yes I was pumping gas, Full Serve, if you’re old enough to remember what that was. A nice lady came in, in her Mustang, with the California Special emblems on the car. I had never even heard of one before. I asked her about the car, but she didn’t seem too impressed with it. To her it was just a car, to me it was an oddity, and representative of much of the “Car Culture” of Socal.
    Before personalized license plates came along, seldom did the license plate make a statement. Except for the lady with the California Special… her black and gold licence plate said WIN 500, just by coincidence.
    Funny I remember that almost 45 years later. Sorry for the boring post folks, but thanks Barnfinds, for the “cruise down memory lane”

    27
    • Johnny Cuda

      Good post BRAKTRCR. Not boring at all. I am a fellow full-serve gas pumper from the late 70’s. I was at Curt’s Texaco and then Nobscot Chevron 20 miles east of Boston. Wow, I remember some awesome cars that our customers had as daily drivers. The New England winters sure did a number on them.

      10
      • EJB

        I pumped gas Mass too but in the late 80’s in a little town called Foxboro well before a certain #12 made it really famous.

        I did see some cool cars but I never saw a California Special come through the pumps. It’s a shame since I always wanted a CS. I figured I could never afford a real classic Shelby.

        Yep, still can’t last time I checked.

        5
    • Barzini

      I was also a transplant to Southern California (mid 80s) and used to drive by a light green California Special in Montclair. I was fascinated by it because I had never seen one but the locals seemed less impressed. Some cars leave a memory that lasts a lifetime.

      3
    • Pete R

      That’s a beautiful snapshot of a memory, thanks for sharing.

      3
    • Rob Sweet

      Oh, i remember those days! “Fill er up” meant a windshield wash, check all four tires, oil check, belt check, and anything else i could sell all within the tank filling up! Where are those days now?? Lloonngg gone i tell ya!

      4
    • Allen Taylor

      Wow what a great story…i believe your talking about my 1968 mustang California special.. it has the original license plates which read
      WIN 883 I would love to get in contact with you and share some pictures with you

      2
      • BRAKTRCR

        Wow Allen amazing huh? The license was definitely WIN 500, I imagine the dealer must have used the same DMV ? Were you in Glendale? The WIN500 was etched on my mind because of the Indy 500… and well you get it. Her car was a light gold color if I remember.
        Fun stuff in this small world

        3
    • Allen

      The woman that I purchased the car from had the Mustang from 1972 to 2014 when I purchased it the car’s original color is a light yellow…the WIN part of the plate and 2 California specials that’s a very big coincidence…i was hoping my car was the car you were talking about

      4
  5. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    The photo of the longtime owner looks very familiar. Seen it before but can’t place it or the car.

    1
    • mark houseman

      That pictured spurred my memory as well. This car was definitely listed before, maybe even on this site. Can someone look it up?

  6. Paul

    Nice car…..nicely kept.

  7. Trad

    Gotta love the guy who pries it out of the original owners hands, to then throw it on ebay.

    6
    • Allen

      You’re talking about my car I have a 1968 Mustang California special plate number
      WIN833

      1
  8. FordGuy1972

    Nice fairly original Mustang. I agree with dirtyharry, just clean it up and refresh only what is absolutely necessary. I do have one pet peeve, though. I don’t care for a seller who won’t include the extra parts with the car he’s selling. If I were to buy this car, I’d tell him to keep the extra parts and just hunt up what was needed somewhere else. Especially in this case as mostly everything for a vintage Mustang is reproduced.

    I’m stubborn that way.

    7
    • Joffrey

      Reproduced? Yes , some are cheap inferior parts. Described NOS and original parts. Not cheapo parts

      Yes you can find lots of those and slap those on your car

      If seller paid premium for better quality parts, why give them to joe blow for free, especially to someone who doesnt know the difference ?

  9. Bob_in_TN Member

    BRAKTRCR, I enjoy reading remembrances triggered by cars on this site. I think that is part of the fun.

    My memory lane trip triggered by this car has some similarities to your story. I was living in Wyoming in the 90’s, and I took care of a small regional Mustang club which hosted a car show each year. There was a local lady in her 80’s who had one of these. It was in similar condition, used but not abused. In her case she knew exactly what she had. It was her daily driver. Basic 289 automatic. I got to know her a bit, enough that she let me take it to the car show for her. How she and/or the car got to Wyoming, I don’t remember.

    I’ve been gone from there for 20 years, I have no idea what happened to the car.

    The Seafoam Green color on this specimen caught my attention. One of those colors-of-the-day which looks very odd today.

    6
  10. Dutch 1960

    Back when these were new, there were a fair number of them driving daily around Southern California. Unlike the Shelby Mustangs, these were just regular Fords, sold to ordinary people for their driving chores. They were often carefully driven and maintained accordingly, and as the CS appearance package was part of a late-cycle dealer sales push for the ’67-’68 style car, I wonder how many owners ended up with CS’s because they were “sold” to them by the dealer’s salesmen, rather than the customers having headed to the dealers with the intention of buying a CS. We know how salesmen would steer the car buyers to the car the sales manager had put an extra “spiff” (cash bonus) on, for the salesman who sold it. The CS was right in the middle of that sort of thing. Certainly many of the owners didn’t seem to treat them like they were special cars. You didn’t get the sort of highway Marios like the GTO, the Z28, and the performance Mustangs attracted. So a fair amount of them ended up as long term DD’s kept by fairly fastidious owners. Good for us car guys later on.

    6
  11. Dutch 1960

    The other thing about the CS, it always just looked good, not a bad line or element on them, even with stock ride height and the slapped on wheel covers of the day. The notchback with the goodies always stood out, IMHO the best looking of all, after the first gen 2+2 and GT350, and before the Boss 302.

    4
  12. W9BAG Member

    If I had the means, I would LOVE to buy this car for my 83 year old Dad, have it completely refurbished (not to be confused with restored), and give it to him as a gift. He would go nuts, and he really deserves it. A wonderful car for a wonderful father. Helluva lot better than his ’02 Tundra.

    3

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