Ford has brought back the 1960s California Special package for its latest 5.0-liter Mustang GT. Road Test Editor Howard Walker gets to grips with this
drop-top pony express.
drop-top pony express.
The original California Special was a limited-edition option on Shelby and GT Mustang coupes offered by SoCal Ford dealers way back in the late 1960s. Now they’re solid collector items.
They were badged GT/CS - for California Special - and offered with big-block 390 V8s as well as the rarer Cobra Jet 428. Production ran for less than six months, between February and August 1968. In total, just 4,118 were built.
For 2016, Ford has brought back the California Special as a $1,995 option on the V8-powered Mustang GT Premium fastback coupes and ragtop models. And it’s well worth the asking price. It adds gorgeous black-painted 19-inch alloys, a deeper front splitter, a unique grille with a tri-bar pony badge, subtle hood and side stripes, and a funky-looking, retro trunk-mounted wing. Inside, the seats are trimmed in ebony leather with sexy black suede inserts and red contrast stitching. There’s also a unique aluminum dash finish with 'California Special' badging, and marginally less low-rent floor mats with red stitching.
Yes, you can get all this Californication in the rakish Mustang GT Fastback, but if you live here in Florida, why the heck would you not want the convertible? It’s like going to Barnacle Bill’s in Sarasota and ordering prime rib!
So, twist the handle on the windshield header, toggle the switch, and in the time it takes to say “Which way to Siesta Key?” the canvas top has powered back and you’re feeling that warm sun on your face.
Of course fuel economy is pretty dreadful. While EPA figures show 15 mpg city and 24 highway, my week of admittedly mostly around-town-let’s-blip-the-throttle driving, saw an average of, er, 13.8 mpg. But life’s too short to worry about gas mileage. Just drop the top, crank up the stereo and head to the beach.
While you can still have fun in a base V6 Mustang Convertible for just over $30-grand, you’d love this V8-powered GT ragtop which kicks off at $42,795. My CS tester, with optional automatic, thumping 12-speaker stereo and Nav, topped out at a rather-hefty $47,575.
As for the sheer joy of a little California Dreamin’ in a red Mustang convertible? Pretty priceless!