What Is a “K-Code” Mustang?

What Is a “K-Code” Mustang?

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Andrew Boyle

First-generation Mustangs were available with a lot of engines, each with its own engine code. Perhaps none is more desirable than the "K-code" engine. K-code Mustangs are considered among the most desirable classic Mustangs. The K-Code was only available from 1964.5-1967.

First offered with Ford’s Comet and Fairlane models in 1963, the K-Code was a 289 cubic-inch high-performance V8 engine. It was often referred to as the "hi-po" (short for high performance) option 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.

Available With the 1964.5 Mustang

Bright red 1965 Fastback with K-code engineOwner: Jim Turcich

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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This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.