Matt Harwood

1979 Mustang Turbo Pace Car *SOLD*

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*SOLD* I'm tired of hearing that there are no more cool, fun, affordable hobby cars, so that's why I grabbed this ultra-clean Mustang Pace car when it drove by. You don't have to drive some frumpy '70s sedan to have fun, and this 54,354-mile survivor will fit right in at most shows where authenticity matters. Never modified, never driven in snow, never a daily driver, it's just a clean little Mustang with a manual gearbox that's a surprising amount of fun.

 

Everyone remembers these pace cars, but when was the last time you actually saw one out in the wild? Been a while, hasn't it? The first-year Fox body has aged rather gracefully and the pace car decals look great today without being garish (I'm looking at you GM). The chin spoiler and slightly raised hood were unique to the pace car, as were the red and orange graphics and I really like the look. It's 100% original, including paint and graphics, and really nicely preserved. Rubber parts are in excellent shape and even the window sills, which get bleached by the sun, are still in good condition. Yeah, there are some nicks and chips and signs of age, but you can safely ignore them without anyone asking you when you're going to fix it up. It's just a nice, untouched 40-year-old Mustang, and when was the last time you saw one of those?!?

 

The funky upholstery is correct and those grippy Recaro seats were standard on the pace car. No rips or tears and the foam underneath is still quite firm. Those are also original black carpets and door panels and a factory sunroof overhead. Pace cars came loaded, so this one has cold factory A/C, a full set of gauges, AM/FM/cassette stereo, and a driver information center on the console that monitors stuff like bulbs, washer fluid level, and fuel level. Kind of cool for 1979, no? The 4-speed manual makes the most of the turbo engine's modest output and shifts cleanly with light clutch action, so it's easy to drive it hard without feeling like you're working. The back seat is quite nice and those areas that look like water stains are actually just an artifact from the seat pattern interacting with our camera lens--weird, but there it is. Hatch area is nice and the original spare tire and jack are still stowed underneath having never been used.

 

I'll admit that the 2.3 liter turbocharged inline-4 with 137 horsepower isn't going to frighten anybody with its performance, but then again, it's only 1 horsepower less than the 5.0 liter V8 that year. remember, it was 1979 and horsepower hadn't yet been reborn. On the other hand, it's pretty peppy and with the manual transmission it's eager and fun, and you'll quickly learn to drive around the rather substantial turbo lag (again, it was 1979). If you're of a certain mindset, there are also a TON of aftermarket upgrades for this engine so more power is easy and if you're clever, it'll also be invisible. It's very clean underneath and because of the modest performance, the structure remains taut and rattle-free, which is nice in a Fox Mustang. It's super clean underneath and the exhaust has been recently replaced with slightly larger pipes, no catalytic converter (check with local authorities, but even California has a rolling 25-year exemption for smog tests), and a Flowmaster so it sounds kind of cool. Factory TRX aluminum wheels are unmarked and carry correct (and the only tire that will fit) Michelin TRX radials in size 195/65/390, which are still available.

 

Extras include an owner's manual, a full set of service manuals, and the pace car jacket that came with every new Mustang pace car. How cool are you?

 

I like this car. It feels familiar because I own a '93 Fox Mustang coupe, and even though the power levels are different, they're definitely family. I like the look of the pace car and it does have some limited production cachet with only about 4500 turbo pace cars built. And for only $10,900, how can you go wrong? Cheap, unique, fun, and eligible for AACA HPOF? Heck yeah! Thanks for looking!

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Neat ride for very little money......

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And there is a neat '77 Olds pace car for half the money just sitting. Maybe someone could match them up and have a pair!

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Brings me back to HS, pal got one of these brand new, with the turbo 4.  Was not breakneck fast, but the combo of being tight as a new car is, and the fox platform made it a great handler compared to the stuff rest of us drove!

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Matt.

I was an engineer for Ford Motor Company in Dearborn MI from 1978 to 80 when we got laid off. I worked on these cars for the Indy 500 and we also did the commercial shoot. It was a neat time. Drove these cars around our test truck and they did pretty well for the times.

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