Ford Mustang Mach 1 Twister Special

Special editions were a big part of Mustang DNA. In 1969, there were 10 different engines, Mach 1, Shelby, Boss, GT and Grande variants, as well as promotions including the West Coast Rainbow of Colors and Philadelphia-area Limited Edition 600 promotions.

Some of those are better known than others. For instance, not many people who aren’t dedicated Mustang collectors know that Ford Special Promotion Division built a handful (probably 10) of track-modified and highly-optioned R-code 1970 Mustang Pace Cars for American Raceways Inc. According to the late Terry Fritts of the Twister Special Registry, this would have been prohibitively expensive for ARI, so Special Promotions pre-sold 100 similarly equipped cars to the Kansas City District (District 53) Sales Office to subsidize the project. Thus, all Twister Specials were built first and have consecutive VINs in the 118000 range, and ARI Pace Cars have 120000-series VINs. These Specials would be used for a November 7, 1969, Total Performance Day promotion at Kansas City Raceway, and where the ARI Mustangs were both NASCAR-spec and loaded with options, the DSO 53 Kansas cars were all supposed to totally performance-oriented. The only comfort and convenience features at all were tinted glass, hubcaps and trim rings, and an AM radio. Ford was also planning to sell the ARI package as a special Pace Car edition; however, late in 1969 ARI went bankrupt.

All Twister Specials were supposed to have been built as R-code 428 Super CobraJet Drag Pack cars with 3.91:1 Traction-Lok differentials; however, there were only 48 SCJs in inventory, so the remainder received the new 4-barrel 351 Cleveland engine. All of them were in Grabber Orange with special Ford Mach 1 side stripes with Twister logo. They all also came with not just the Drag Pack and SCJ competition suspension; but a shaker hood, power front disc brakes and F70x14 raised white letter Polyglas tires. In the end, only 96 Mach 1 Twister Specials were built in October 1969.

The 30th Twister Special built, the owner bought this car because it was a 4-speed R-code Mach 1, and didn’t realize he had something even more special until he received his Marti report. “Words cannot describe the elation,” he said in an interview. With 95% original sheet metal, there was no question about performing a correct rotisserie restoration, which was photo documented and completed in 2014 at RJ Restorations in Minnesota. In the short time since then, it has amassed an impressive trophy case, including Street Stock Gold and Platinum awards at the 2014 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, as well as a Muscle Car Review magazine cover photo.

There’s a lot to love about a Twister Special. It’s not just any DSO Mustang special, it’s built with the final year of the 428 SCJ under the hood with the Drag Pack external oiler cooler and Hurst T-handle shifted close ratio 4-speed transmission. An authentic, one-of-24 4-speed 428 Super Cobra Jet Twister Special with numbers-matching engine is one of the most distinctive and collectible Mustangs of the era.

In addition, Mustang specialist Ed Meyer was present at RJ Restorations to help coordinate the car's final detailing to factory correct specifications and this expertly restored 4-speed Super Cobra Jet Mach 1 Twister Special presents an opportunity for Mustang collectors that hasn't been paralleled for decades.

Source: Mecum Auctions as part of the Kansas City event in April, 2015

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