New model year also brings rev-matching tech and a 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system.
After dusting off the “Bullitt” name for a new special edition, Ford is doing the same thing with the “California Special” set to make a return for the 2019 model year. Fans of the pony car know the very first ‘Stang to carry this badge came out back in 1968 with a unique design inspired by the 1967 Shelby GT notchback coupe prototype. Fast forward to present day, and a new one is heading to dealerships based on the powerful GT model.
The retro-flavored special edition pays tribute to its ancestor by getting the same blacked-out front grille and side body graphics together with Ebony Black and Race Red script California Special badging on the trunk lid. It sits on model-exclusive five-spoke painted machined wheels and borrows the Mustang Performance Pack 1 splitter, while the stick-on faux rear fender scoop is also reserved to this model.
Stepping inside the cabin, the 2019 Mustang California Special stands out thanks to its “GT/CS” embossing on the black suede seats featuring red contrast stitching. Ford will also throw in GT/CS-branded floor mats and more fancy badging on the dashboard on the passenger side.
Also new for the 2019 is the rev-matching technology for the Mustang GT and its naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 developing 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet (570 Newton-meters) of torque.
Introduced on the 2018 Mustang GT, the driver-controllable active valve performance exhaust can now be had on the lesser Mustang EcoBoost models. The sound is altered depending on the selected drive mode or by fiddling with the MyMode settings via the 12-inch instrument panel or the standard 4.2-inch cluster.
Seen just last week on the European-spec Mustang Bullitt, the Bang & Olufsen Play audio system is now available in the U.S.-spec 2019 Mustang with 12 speakers, 1,000-watt power, and a 10-channel amplifier.
Rounding off the list of novelties would have to be an extended color palette that now includes shades such as Need for Green, Velocity Blue, and the Bullitt’s Dark Highland Green.
Ford will have the 2019 Mustang on sale this summer, with pricing for the new goodies to be announced closer to launch.
Gallery: 2019 Ford Mustang California Special
CALIFORNIA SPECIAL RETURNS FOR 2019 MUSTANG, PLUS ENTHUSIAST UPDATES INCLUDE REV-MATCHING, B&O AUDIO SYSTEM AND NEW COLORS
- California Special returns with a new limited-edition design package for 2019 Mustang GT that commemorates visual cues of the 1968 original while celebrating modern Mustang performance and style
- Legend of innovation continues with rev-matching technology for the powerful 5.0-liter 6-speed-manual transmission equipped Mustang GT that ensures smoother and more spirited day-to-day driving; class-exclusive quad-tip fully variable active valve performance exhaust added for EcoBoost®-powered Mustang
- First-ever B&O Play audio system for Mustang is customized to the acoustics of the interior to deliver an impressive 1,000 watts of power through a 12-channel speaker system and connectivity to SYNC® 3
DEARBORN, Mich., March 12, 2018 – America’s favorite sports car gets even more style and technology for 2019 thanks to the revival of the legendary Mustang GT California Special, new technology features including rev-matching on 5.0-liter manual-equipped models, the first-ever custom-tuned B&O Play premium audio system for Mustang and three new vintage-inspired colors and over-the-top stripes.
“No doubt, 2019 is an exciting year for Mustang enthusiasts, especially fans of our California Special and Bullitt models,” said Corey Holter, Ford car group marketing manager. “This year further targets hardcore Mustang enthusiasts who want even more performance from BULLITT, while new technology including rev-matching on manual transmission equipped Mustang GTs and active valve performance exhaust on EcoBoost® models means even more thrills.”
When Mustang first hit the streets in 1964, owners clubs sprang up around the country, with many regional dealers creating their own personalized pony car designs. One – inspired by the 1967 Shelby GT notchback coupe prototype – came to be called the California Special.
That original version featured blacked-out grille, fog lamps and a side racing stripe that ended ahead of a new rear fender scoop. It wore a Shelby-inspired spoiler, custom tail lamps and twist-lock hood fasteners. Impressed, Ford put a limited number of California Special cars into production for 1968. Before long, the California Special had joined the ranks of Shelby, Boss and Mach 1 special-edition Mustangs.
Today, the 2019 California Special for Mustang GT is a visual standout, featuring a trademark fading stripe that traces from the 5.0 side badge to the rear fender scoop. A signature Ebony Black and Race Red script California Special badge adorns the trunk lid. At the front, the car follows the blacked-out open grille and picks up the Mustang Performance Pack 1 splitter. The California Special wears unique five-spoke painted machined wheels.
Inside, driver and passengers will discover rich black Miko® suede-trimmed seats with embossed GT/CS insignia and contrast red accent stitching, and custom embroidered GT/CS floor mats. Signature California Special script badging appears on the passenger-side dash panel.
“Few things are more satisfying than dropping the top on a California Special and taking a drive down the majestic Pacific Coast Highway,” said Mark Conforzi, Ford designer. “This signature design takes its cues from the original California Special, while enhancing the personality of today’s Mustang.”
Rev-matching to level the field
Mustang GT’s retuned 5.0-liter V8 engine packs 460 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque and tops out at 155 mph.* When that torque gets delivered to the pavement via 6-speed manual and available Performance Package, you better hold on, because that’s where rev-matching gives Mustang drivers a leg – or a heel and a toe – up.
Advanced rev-matching helps smooth out shifts by predicting shifts and then quickly matching engine rpm – similar to the heel-and-toe methods the pros use. On downshifts, the engine rpm instantly kicks up to smooth out the transition between gears.
Sensational B&O Play audio
Like Ford Mustang, Bang & Olufsen is an innovator in both iconic design and heart-racing performance across its line of audio products. And now, for the first time, the B&O Play audio system comes to Mustang with a stunning 10-channel amplifier producing 1,000 watts across 12 high-performance speakers.
Customized to the acoustics of the interior, sound engineers tuned the B&O Play audio system to take both the static and dynamic states of Mustang into account to elevate the senses regardless of driving conditions.
Active valve performance exhaust now available on EcoBoost models
When the class-exclusive quad-tip fully variable active valve performance exhaust hit the streets for Mustang GT for 2018, critics and customers alike raved over the deep throaty sound of the 5.0-liter V8 engine. What took everyone by surprise was its driver-controlled, fully active exhaust mode and quiet start mode, also known as good neighbor mode.
Now, this Ford-patented fully variable active valve performance exhaust brings an aggressive snarl to 2019 Mustang EcoBoost models. This class-exclusive quad-tip exhaust system can be controlled by the drive mode system or via personalized MyMode settings through the 12-inch all-digital LCD instrument panel, as well as through the standard 4.2-inch cluster.
More personalization than ever; new colors
Mustang enthusiasts now have more opportunity to personalize their car than ever before, with exciting new vintage-inspired colors including Velocity Blue, Need for Green and the iconic Bullitt model’s exclusive Dark Highland Green.
“These intense new colors trace back to Mustang’s classic colors of the late 1960s and early 1970s,” said Holter. “While colors like Shadow Black and Magnetic Gray will still be popular for those who prefer to go stealth, these new colors pack a brighter, more vibrant punch for 2019.”
The 2019 Mustang goes on sale this summer.