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

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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?

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • 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.

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  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.