What Is a “K-Code” Mustang?

If you are one of those fortunate individuals who have a classic Mustang from the early years in your garage, it’s quite possible you are the proud owner of a Mustang equipped with a “K-Code” engine. The “K” signifies the engine code that was part of the vehicle identification number.

First offered with Ford’s Comet and Fairlane models in 1963, the K-Code was actually a 289-cubic-inch high-performance V-8 engine that was also referred to as “Hi-Po” and delivered a power output of 271 hp. This represented a significant power boost over the standard 260-cubic-inch, 210 hp “D-Code” engine available at the time.

K-Code MustangAvailable With the 1964.5 Mustang

The K-Code engine was first made available to Mustang buyers in June of 1964, about two months after the original 1964.5 model (which was technically a 1965 Mustang) was unveiled. In addition to the upgraded engine, buyers who chose the K-Code option also received a special handling package and dual red-stripe tires.

Ford marketed the K-Code engine as a way for Mustang owners to enjoy a sports car performance that matched the Mustang’s sports car styling. Ford also suggested the K-Code would appeal to buyers who were interested in participating in competitive events such as rallies and gymkhanas.

Three-Year Production Run

Less than one percent of the approximately 1.7 million Mustangs produced during its first three years of existence were actually equipped with a K-Code engine, and Ford did not offer the K-Code after 1967. The K-Code, however, did help pave the way for more robust Mustang engines of the future, such as the Cobra Jet and Boss. The relative scarcity, combined with its legacy as the first truly high-performance engine available with the Mustang, makes a K-Code Mustang a highly sought-after vehicle by classic car collectors.

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Photo courtesy Jim Turcich