1968 FORD MUSTANG LARGELY CARRIED OVER
The ’68 Mustang was basically the same as the ’67 model with minor trim and equipment differences, a few new models and a new engine option. Cosmetically, the body shell remained virtually unchanged, except for the addition of side market lights front and rear, per Federal law. The grille bar went away and the trim changed slightly. But the most obvious visual difference is that the faux side scoops that were on the rear quarters on the ’67 were eliminated on the ’68 for a much cleaner look.
1968 Ford Mustang FASTBACK
1968 FORD MUSTANG SAFETY UPGRADES
Federal safety and emissions laws would play a greater and greater role in the design and manufacture of cars from now on. 1968 seems to have been a milestone year in this process, with very few changes coming before it, but an ever-increasing onslaught from then on. For 1968, the Mustang got side marker lights, a collapsable steering column, and the inside rearview mirror was mounted to the inside of the windshield for the first time. The VIN plate was also moved from under the hood to the top surface of the dashboard, visible through the windshield, even when the car was locked, itself due to new government anti-theft legislation.
1968 FORD MUSTANG OPTION GROUPS
Ford had caught onto the technique of bundling separate options together into packages as a way of getting people to buy more of them, even a few they might not care that much about. The Sports Trim Group consisted of a woodgrained dash, knitted vinyl seat inserts, wheelwell moldings, a 2-tone louvered hood and the Argent (dull silver) styled steel wheels mounting E70X14 Wide Oval whitewall tires. The 2-toned hood could also be ordered on lesser Mustangs to give even a base model that boy-racer look. The Protection Group included color-keyed rubber floor mats, door edge guards, and chrome license plate frames. And for Mustang GTs, you could option it up still further with the Reflective Group which added reflective GT stripes.
1968 FORD MUSTANG GT PACKAGE
The GT Equipment Group got some changes for the 1968 model year. The most visually obvious was the adoption of a C-shaped GT stripe that followed the scallops on the sides of the body. It was meant to reference Ford’s very successful GT40 endurance racers. But in case you didn’t like them, you could option for the 1967-style straight stripes. The GTs foglights remained, but the chromed bar that supported them disappeared. There were GT emblems on each front fender, on the flip-open gas cap and on the hubcaps. Otherwise the mechanical specifications are roughly equivalent to the 1967 Mustang GT. Power front disk brakes were now optional on small block GTs, but mandatory on cars with the 390, 427 or 428. Dual exhaust with chrome quad tips were standard on all GTs, as were F70x14 WSW Firestone Wide Oval tires on 14X6 styled steel wheels, either in Argent or chrome, both mounting chromed trim rings and GT-emblazoned center caps.
1968 Ford Mustang CONVERTIBLE
1968 Ford Mustang HARDTOP
1968 Ford Mustang INTERIORS
1968 FORD MUSTANG INTERIORS
Along with the new collapsable steering column came a new steering wheel with one broad spoke going side-to-side from the 9-o’clock to the 3-o’clock postitions with 3 holes on each side that honestly wasn’t a very good look. Many got swapped out immediately for the small aftermarket woodgrain hotrod wheels that were vogue at the time. There were new upholstery patterns also. Interior options were beginning to be bundled into option groups. The Interior Decor Group had woodgrain appliques on the dash and door panels and a woodgrain steering wheel.
1968 Ford Mustang ENGINES
1968 FORD MUSTANG ENGINE OPTIONS
Again the standard base engine was the 200 cubic inch 6-cylinder. While the 2-barrel 289 V8 remained, it was now rated at 195hp, down from 200 in 1967. Both 4-barrel 289s, including the K-code Hi-Po were deleted, replace by 302 cubic inch small block V8s, which were stroked 289s. The highest-rated 302 4-barrel engine was now rated at 230hp with hydraulic cam and 470cfm Autolite 4-barrel. A bit of trivia: this is the only year that you could get a Mustang with a 302 4-barrel engine until 1983, excluding the Boss 302. But the big news on the horsepower front was no longer high-revving small blocks. It was now all about stump-pulling big blocks.
1967 FORD MUSTANG BIG BLOCK POWER
The widening of the front track for the 1967 Mustang made it possible to drop in a big block 390. This continued relatively unchanged, now rated at a conservative 325hp. However, up against the Camaro’s wicked 396 big block V8 with 375hp, the 390 Mustang came up lacking. It didn’t help that the FE family of big blocks of which the 390 was a part was a very heavy cast iron engine at around 700 pounds. But help was on the way in the form of the 427 V8. Also an FE big block, the 427 had been developed by Ford for racing purposes and was a much better engine than the 390, even though they shared basic architecture. This race-bred engine in street form used a hydraulic cam and a smallish 650cfm Holley 4-barrel to produce 390hp at 5,600rpm. Introduced in 1963 as part of the FE family of big blocks, it used cross-bolted main bearing caps with oil passages at the sides of the crank journals, thereby earning it’s name “427 Side-Oiler “. A distant relative of the more industrial 390, it was closer in kind to the 428, which was built on the same basic block without the side-oiling and cross-bolted mains, and a different bore and stroke. The 427 was much more “oversquare” (meaning the bore diameter was much greater than the length of the stroke) than the 428, allowing it to produce power at higher rpms, where as the longer-stroke 428 got its power down low. The 427 in the 1968 Ford Mustang GT used a low-rise intake manifold for hood clearance, and could only be ordered with an automatic transmission, Ford’s new C6. The 427 was a $622 option which was a huge price back in 1968, so it was not very common. It was also fazed out mid-year, to be replaced by the 428 Cobra Jet, which was almost as fast, but much less expensive to produce.
1968 Ford Mustang CALIFORNIA SPECIAL
1968 FORD MUSTANG SPAWNS MANY ‘SPECIALS’
Starting in 1968, Ford produced a variety of ‘Specials’, including a few ‘Regional Specials’. “The California Special”, sold almost exclusively in California, is the most well-known, but there was also the “High Country Special” for the Colorado market, the “Sunshine Special” for Florida and the “Nebraska Big Red” for…well, you get the idea. Most were similar to the California Special with minor trim differences. Then there was the Mustang Sprint, which was essentially a normal Mustang, with either 6 or 8 cylinders, with most of the GT’s cosmetic items.
1968 FORD MUSTANG CALIFORNIA SPECIAL
The Mustang California Special, also known as the GT/CS (for GT- California Special) used a combination of Mustang GT and Shelby Mustang styling features. The Shelby parts bin contributed the rear deck lid with integral spoiler, wide sequential taillights, side scoops (non-functional in this application), and blacked-out front grille. Extra-large Lucas or Marchal foglamps were mounted to the grille. Most of the appearance parts from the GT package were used including the styled steel wheels less the GT center caps. The GT/CS also got its own distinctive side stripe. It is estimated that around 5,000 GT/CSs were produced in 1968.
1968 Ford Mustang SHELBYS
1968 FORD MUSTANG 428 COBRA JET
The 428CJ, as it was called, was released on April 1, 1968 to counter criticism that the Mustang couldn’t stand up to a big block Camaro or Firebird, and was available as a Hardtop or Fastback only, no Convertibles. Apparently the massive torque of this engine tended to twist the roofless bodies. Being much cheaper to produce than the sophisticated 427, the 428CJ was a hit with performance-minded buyers. But it was more than just a big engine in a Mustang. The front suspension and the front shock towers were beefed up, the rear shocks were staggered (one in front of the axle, one behind) to mitigate wheelhop, and a functional Ram Air hood scoop fed cool air into the hungry motor. The 428CJ could be mated to either a 4-speed manual or a C6 3-speed automatic. The standard axle ratio was 3.50:1, but 3.91:1 and 4.30:1 gears were optional, all with heavy duty 9-inch rear ends with 31-spline axles. The hood got a broad black stripe that covered the scoop and cowl, and all the rest of the GT Equipment Group was automatically included with the 428CJ option.
MUSTANG 428CJ DETAILS
The 428CJ was basically a standard 428 passenger car engine with 427 heads and a 750cfm Holley 4-barrel on a 428 Police Interceptor intake manifold. The 428CJ also got the benefit of an oil sump windage tray to keep the engine well-fed during high-G maneuvers. Instead of the standard Firestone Wide Oval tires, the 428CJ got Goodyear Polyglas F70X14 tires monted on GT-specific styled steel wheels. These were the best tires on the market at the time, making their world debut on the Mustang. A total of 2,253 428CJ Fastbacks were produced and 564 Hardtops in 1968.