What Is a California Special Mustang?

What Is a California Special Mustang?

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Andrew Boyle

The remarkable popularity of the Ford Mustang has led to the production of special-edition models, many of which have become favorites of Mustang collectors and enthusiasts. One of the earlier special-edition Mustangs was the California Special, which was based on a Shelby GT500 prototype known as “Little Red.”

Released in 1968, only about 4,100 California Special Mustangs were produced. As one might surmise from the name, this limited-edition Mustang was geared toward the California market and was originally made available only to select Ford dealers within two specific California sales districts. The actual model name was GT/CS, with the latter two initials standing for “California Special.”

California Special Features

Bright red classic Mustang

The GT/CS was available in a variety of engine sizes, although most models were equipped with a small-block 289. Other features included non-sequential 1965 Thunderbird taillights, twist-type hood pins, side scoops, and a rear spoiler decklid with endcaps.

Side stripes featuring a die-cut GT/CS logo were another distinctive styling touch. While the California Special was available in all the standard Mustang colors, the only color options for the side stripes were red, white, black, and metallic medium blue.

GT/CS Eventually Solid in Other States

Eventually some California Specials were distributed to dealers in other western states and Canada. Those sold in the Denver, CO area were renamed to “High Country Special.”

Production of the original GT/CS ended in July of 1968. Ford decided to pay tribute to the vehicle by introducing an updated California Special Mustang package that was available from 2007-2009, 2011-2014, 2016-2017, and now as a 2019 California Special as well.

Image Credit: Mecum Auctions

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