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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 taillamps 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.
New Year, New Mustang
The 2019 Mustang will be available with more style and technology thanks to the revival of the Mustang GT California Special. New features including rev-matching on 5-liter six-speed manual-equipped models, the custom-tuned B&O PLAY audio system, three new vintage-inspired colors and stripes.
“This year further targets hardcore enthusiasts who want even more performance from BULLITT, while new technology—including rev-matching on manual transmission-equipped Mustang GT and active valve performance exhaust on the EcoBoost model—means even more thrills,” said Corey Holter, Ford car group marketing manager.
The 2019 California Special for Mustang GT is a visual standout, according to Ford, 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 are rich black Miko suede-trimmed seats with embossed GT/CS insignia and contrast red accent stitching, along with custom embroidered GT/CS floor mats. Signature California Special script badging appears on the passenger-side dash panel.
Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V-8 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 six-speed manual and available Performance Package, you better hold on, because that’s where rev-matching gives Mustang drivers a leg up, according to Ford.
Advanced rev-matching helps smooth out shifts by first predicting shifts then quickly matching engine rpm—similar to the heel-and-toe methods the pros use. On downshifts, engine rpm instantly kicks up to smooth out the transition between gears.
Bang & Olufsen offers the new B&O PLAY audio system in the California Special, with a 10-channel amplifier producing 1,000 watts across 12 high-performance speakers.
Customized to the car’s interior environment, 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, according to the company. B&O PLAY audio connects to the optional SYNC 3 system, which allows Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Active Valve Performance Exhaust
A fully variable active valve performance exhaust brings an aggressive snarl to 2019 Mustang equipped with EcoBoost, according to Ford. This quad-tip exhaust system can be controlled by the drive mode system or via personalized MyMode settings with the 12-inch all-digital LCD instrument panel, as well as through the standard 4.2-inch cluster.
Personalization and New Colors
Mustang now offers 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.”