Ford Mustang (1967-1968)
Article by Mark Trotta
The first 2-1/2 years of Mustang sales were unprecedented. To keep up with demand, Ford Motor Company opened two additional assembly plants (California and New Jersey).
Ford's successful pony car continued in 1967 with all-new sheet metal, a larger grille opening, and deeper side scallops. The Mustang line-up included the notchback, 2+2 fastback, and convertible, with the fastback's roof now extending all the way down to the trunk lid's edge. New three-slit taillights were set into each side of the back panel.
The Mustang's front suspension featured independent control-arms with coil springs and an anti-roll bar. In back, semi-elliptical leaf springs held up the solid rear axle. The frame and wheelbase remained the same at 108 inches, but total length grew from 181 inches to 183.6 inches.
Inside, the "twin cove" instrument panel received a thicker crash pad and larger gauges. New safety regulations, mandated by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, brought about four-way emergency flashers, softer interior knobs, and an energy-absorbing steering column and wheel. A dual-circuit hydraulic brake system was also added.
For 1967, the Mustang's base engine was a 200 cubic-inch straight-six producing 120 horsepower. V8 choices included a 200-, 225- or 271-horsepower 289, and for the first time, Ford's potent big-block was available.
K-Code 289 Mustang
The GT or GTA package was required to add the K code package to a Mustang. The motor had 10.5:1 compression, smaller combustion chamber heads, and solid-lifter camshaft. Other performance equipment included a 595-cfm carburetor with a manual choke, dual-point distributor and low-restriction exhaust manifolds.
The "K" represents the engine code found on the VIN number of these special cars, and was offered on Mustangs from 1965 to 1967.
Chrome valve covers set off the motor visually, with "289 High Performance" lettering atop the chrome air cleaner. Special badging adorned the front fenders, reading "High Performance 289". All K-Code Mustangs came with a larger 9-inch rear-axle, versus the standard 8-inch axle. Dual-exhaust pipes exited below the rear fender through the rear valance panel.
390 Mustang Big-Block
Widening the front suspension 2-1/2" from last year's model allowed room for Ford's FE block to be fitted into the Mustang. Topped with a Holley four-barrel carburetor, the 390 cubic-inch V8 produced 320 horsepower.
Base transmission for the Mustang was a manual floor-shifted three-speed. A three-speed automatic or four-speed manual were optional. The four-speed transmission could be ordered with the V-8s, but not with the six. With the 390 big-block, only the three-speed automatic or four-speed manual could be ordered.
First offered on the 1965 Mustang, the GT equipment group option included front disc brakes, quick-ratio gearbox, stiffer springs, larger shock absorbers, and a wider front sway-bar. Exterior features included grille-mounted fog-lamps, special stripes on the lower fender, doors and rear quarter panels, and GT badging.
Available engines with the GT package included the K-code 289 and the 390 big-block. The automatic transmission version (GTA) was offered only in 1967.
Model-year production for the 1967 Ford Mustang was 475,346. This figure includes 3,225 Shelby models (GT-350, GT-500, GT-500KR).
1967 Mustang Production
After record-breaking sales from 1966, Mustang production was down. Competitors in the pony car market now included the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, and Plymouth's newly redesigned Barracuda. Even sister company Mercury joined the fray, offering the upscale Cougar.
1968 Ford Mustang
Federally mandated side marker lights were added, along with a revised grille. 1968 Mustangs also received a new two-spoke steering wheel. Popular options included front disc brakes, power steering, air conditioning, and limited-slip differential.
Ford Mustang California Special
The GT/CS option was only offered on notchback Mustangs and was entirely cosmetic; fiberglass trunk lid with integrated spoiler, quarter-panel extensions, non-functional body-side scoops, and tail lights from the 1965 Thunderbird. Contrasting body stripes accented the body paint, and dual exhausts featured "quad-exhaust" tips (when V8 equipped).
Find early Mustang Parts at Mac's Auto Parts
The California Special was an appearance package and included no performance parts. Although named for the state of California and built at Ford's San Jose plant, it was sold throughout the western part of the U.S. Just over 4,000 California Special edition Mustangs were built.
The 1968 Ford models introduced a new 302ci V8 engine. The two-barrel 302 produced 220 horsepower, while the four-barrel version produced 230 horsepower. A low-performance 195-horsepower 289 V8 was still an option, but the other 289's were gone.
Ford FE Block
Three versions of Ford's big-block V-8 were available for the 1968 Mustang. A two-barrel 390 produced 265 horsepower and 390 lb/ft of torque. A four-barrel 390 produced 325 horsepower and 427 lb/ft of torque. And then there was the Cobra Jet.
428 Cobra Jet Mustang
The top performing motor for 1968 was the 428ci big-block V-8, dubbed Cobra Jet. Based on the 428-cid engine from full size Ford cars, the R-code Cobra Jet had larger valve heads and a high performance intake manifold. A ram-air induction system featured a functional hood scoop mated to a special air cleaner. A vacuum-actuated butterfly valve directed air into the 735-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor.
Read: Top Five Muscle Car Engines
The 428 CJ was purposely under-rated by the factory at 335 horsepower. Most enthusiasts agree that with minor modifications it could easily put out over 400 horsepower.
1968 Mustang Production
Model-year production for the 1968 Ford Mustang was 321,854. This figure includes 4,450 Shelby models (GT-350, GT-500, GT-500KR).
Bullitt Movie Car
In the 1968 movie "Bullitt", actor/car guy Steve McQueen stars as Police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, who drives a 1968 Mustang GT fastback. For motorheads, it was the ten-minute-long car chase between a black Dodge Charger and the dark green Mustang that makes the movie unforgettable.
For the movie, a pair of 1968 Mustang fastbacks were fitted with the 390ci V8 (325 hp) and four-speed manual transmissions. One of the two Mustangs (as well as one of the Chargers) was fitted with a full roll-cage. Suspension, engine, and brakes were heavily modified for the chase by Max Balchowsky.
Bullitt Chase Scene
Filmed entirely on location through the streets of San Francisco, the Charger was driven by stunt man Bill Hickman, who also played one of the hit-men Mcqueen was chasing. Hickman also helped choreograph the chase. He and McQueen had practiced high-speed close-quarter driving before the actual filming. At times, the cars (including the chase cars filming) reached speeds of 110 miles per hour.
The "Bullitt" Mustang driven by Mcqueen was sold at auction in January 2020 for an astounding 3.4 million dollars ($3.7 million including auction fees).