Raven Black 1968 Ford Mustang GT/CS Is a One-of-One Gem Looking for a New Owner

1968 Ford Mustang California Special 11 photos
Photo: Mecum Auctions
1968 Ford Mustang California Special1968 Ford Mustang California Special1968 Ford Mustang California Special1968 Ford Mustang California Special1968 Ford Mustang California Special1968 Ford Mustang California Special1968 Ford Mustang California Special1968 Ford Mustang California Special1968 Ford Mustang California Special1968 Ford Mustang California Special
Redesigned for the 1967 model year, the first-generation Ford Mustang moved into 1968 unchanged save for a few safety enhancements and a new 302-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) V8. However, Ford came up with a new limited-edition Mustang that year, the California Special.
Also known as the GT/CS, the California Special was launched as a regional model following a request from California-based Ford dealers, which were responsible for 20% of all Mustang sales at the time.

It was also Ford's response to the then-new Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, and Mustang sales having dropped more than 20% in 1967. In short, Ford was hoping that the California Special would become a hit and boost Mustang sales to pre-1966 numbers.

But things didn't go as Ford had hoped and production of the California Special ended after only five and a half months with just 4,118 examples built. Ford ended up remarketing 251 units as High Country Specials, so the actual number of California Specials sold to the public sits at 3,867 cars.

While not as rare as other Mustangs from the era, the California Special is indeed a special model when compared to most pony cars that left the Ford factory in 1968. That's because it was inspired by the now-iconic Little Red prototype and developed in cooperation with Shelby. Specifically, it left the assembly line as a hybrid between the regular Mustang GT and the Shelby GT350.

Features that set it apart from the GT included a few fiberglass body panels, rectangular fog lamps integrated into the grille, side scoops, and a rear spoiler. It also came with Thunderbird taillights, just like the 1968 Shelby models, as well as unique side stripes with "GT/SC" lettering on the scoops.

But unlike the Shelby GT350, the California Special was available in all standard Mustang colors and with all engine and transmission combinations.

Come 2022 and the GT/CS is one of the most desirable Mustangs built in the late 1960s. The cars fitted with the large 390- and 428-cubic-inch (6.4- and 7.0-liter) V8 engines are the most sought-after due to their scarcity, but the small-block California Specials have also become increasingly more popular with collectors in recent years.

The GT/CS you see here is not one of those incredibly rare big-block cars, but it's a bit more special than its small-block siblings. That's because the Raven Black paint and the options it comes with make it a one-of-one gem. And it has a Marti Report to prove it.

The pony is also in fabulous condition overall and highly original, still rocking its factory 289-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) V8, C4 automatic transmission, and 2.79-ratio rear axle. It was obviously refreshed at some point, but the odometer shows only 56,494 miles, which means that it also spent a lot of time in storage.

Arguably one of the cleanest California Specials I've seen in a long time, this muscle car is scheduled to hit the auction block at Mecum's Kissimmee 2023 event in January. There's no price estimate to run by, but Concours-ready examples go for more than $70,000. Given the one-of-one status, this California Special could fetch more than that.
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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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