What Is the Challenger Mustang Special?

The 1968 Challenger Special occupies a unique place in Mustang history and, although it was limited only to dealerships in Mississippi, it continues to be remembered fondly as an important early pony car variant that paved the way for models to come. The Challenger Special is especially notable for how it offered budget-conscious drivers a way to add more power and improved performance to the base model, foreshadowing the important role ‘70s and ‘80s tuner culture would play in revitalizing the brand.

Challenger Special MustangAll About the Challenger Special

The Mustang Challenger Special package was available only for the 1968 model year and only as a dealer-installed option on Seafoam Green hardtop coupes. The Mustang Challenger Special first took the 289 V8 as its base and then, from early May onward, the 302 V8. The goal of the Mustang Challenger Special was to provide an economical way for drivers to get more performance out of their Mustang — to that end, curb weight was kept low with the omission of power options and air conditioning.

The main additions to the Mustang Challenger Special edition were a set of Shelby intakes and a specially manufactured 4118 Holley carburetor. Combined with the absence of any options, these additions gave the Challenger Special a low power-to-weight ratio with performance approaching that of the more expensive Shelby variants.

Availability

The Challenger Special was available only from dealers in the Mississippi area. All Challenger Specials originated from the New Orleans District Sales Office (DSO), where the model’s special intakes and carburetors were installed. The optional package was available for an extra $158 over list pricing. It is estimated that only a few units were sold in Mississippi — models equipped with the 302 engine have been isolated to VIN numbers 8F01J193649-70. Similar packages were sold at dealers across the country, although none were promoted as a special edition the way the Mississippi cars were.

It is unclear how many Challenger Special Mustangs are on the road today. Given the small numbers that were produced and the limited geographical area they were confined to, it is rare to see one come up for auction.