Junkyard Find: 1979 Ford Mustang "Indy 500 Pace Car Edition"

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1979 ford mustang indy 500 pace car edition

1979 was the first year for the Fox Platform Mustang, and Ford celebrated by grabbing the rights to show off their new machine at the 1979 Indianapolis 500. You could buy a street version of the Indy 500 Mustang pace car, and many did. Many others, a few years later, bought the galloping-horses-and-tape-stripes decal kit for their non-Pace Car Edition Mustangs. I’m pretty sure that this car— which I found in a California self-service yard— belongs in the latter group… but not completely sure.

This car was so much better than the Pinto-based Mustang that preceded it (not to mention the bloated early-70s monstrosities that preceded that car) that Jackie Stewart had no problems finding nice things to say about it.

The true pace car ’79s were all painted in “pewter,” which this suspiciously primer-looking paint might have been, 34 years ago.

You can see a bit of the crazy op art upholstery that was used in all the 1979 Pace Car Editions.

Pace Car Edition ’79 Mustangs came with a choice of the 302-cubic-inch V8 or the turbocharged 2300 “Pinto” engine. This here is the non-turbocharged Pinto engine. You decide— is this a garden-variety four-banger Fox Mustang, worth scrap value, or a genuine special edition pace car, worth twice scrap value?

Join the conversation
2 of 68 comments
  • Holmd90 Holmd90 on Jul 15, 2013

    ^Original-appearing being a reference to the inside of the door and the engine bay, the rest is a horrendous respray including a very saddening masking job on the decals.

  • Teranceofathens Teranceofathens on Jan 27, 2015

    Hey, what junkyard did you find this in? I need a door from that car. Oh, and yes, I have one, and I'm fairly certain that's the real deal.

  • Johnster Minor quibble. The down-sized full-sized 1980-only Continental (which was available with Town Car and Town Coupe trims) gave up its name in 1981 and became the Town Car. The name "Town Coupe" was never used after the 1980 model year. The 1981 Lincoln Town Car was available with a 2-door body style, but the 2-door Lincoln Town Car was discontinued and not offered for the 1982 model year and never returned to the Lincoln lineup.
  • Zipper69 Some discreet dwebadging and this will pass for a $95k Lucid Air...
  • Zipper69 Does it REALLY have to be a four door?Surely a truly compact vehicle could stick with the half-door access with jump seats for short term passengers.
  • ToolGuy See kids, you can keep your old car in good condition.
  • ToolGuy MUAWGA