DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. announced March 19 it has created a 2019 Mustang GT California Special that adds new muscle, new high-tech handling and a new audio experience.
“People have been talking a lot about the 2019 Mustang Bullitt,” said Ford spokesman Jiyan Cadiz. “This adds just a little more excitement for Mustang fans.”
Ford continues to highlight the iconic nature of its Mustang, which inspired owners’ clubs as early as 1964 when the model first debuted. Regional auto dealers personalized the pony car designs, and one — inspired by the 1967 Shelby GT notchback coupe prototype — came to be called the California Special.
Ford put a limited number of California Special cars into production for 1968. Soon, they joined the ranks of Shelby, Boss and Mach 1 special-edition Mustangs.
The latest design is inspired by the original California Special, said Ford designer Mark Conforzi. Features include a trademark fading stripe and a classic badge on the trunk lid. Seats are trimmed in suede with red accent stitching, and floor mats are custom embroidered.
The limited-edition design package commemorates the original while introducing vintage colors, 12-speaker B&O Play audio and technology that makes for smoother shifting of the 6-speed manual transmission.
“This makes you feel like a racing driver,” said Jean Jennings, former editor-in-chief of Automobile Magazine, who praised the latest “rev-matching” technology.
How it works: Gears spin at different speeds than the engine when a transmission shifts. A revolution-matching technology matches the revs of the engine with the revs of the gear, so drivers don’t have to worry about jerky shifting.
Technically, rev-matching actually predicts shifts and then quickly matches engine revolutions per minute. On downshifts, the engine rpm instantly kicks up to smooth out the transition between gears.
The new Mustang GT carries a 5.0-liter V8 engine with 460 horsepower and 420 lbs.-ft. of torque and reaches 155 mph.
This Mustang, like its predecessors, offers a deep, throaty engine sound. But drivers can control the fully active exhaust mode and quiet start mode, also known as good neighbor mode.
New vintage-inspired colors include “Velocity Blue,” which children might compare to Cookie Monster and art aficionados to paintings by Henri Matisse, and “Need for Green,” which is similar to the shade often worn on St. Patrick’s Day; plus the Bullitt’s famous Dark Highland Green. Shadow Black and Magnetic Gray will still be available.
“We’re looking at an age-old rivalry here between the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Camaro,” Jennings said. “These cars are increasingly more sophisticated with bigger engines. We’re seeing a modern-day muscle car war between these two brands again.”
The sports car segment attracts a passionate buyer and having special packages that appeal to emotion is a winning solution for Mustang, said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.
“A Mustang California Special will not bring in the volume of a Ford F-150 pickup,” she said, “but it will succeed in delighting Mustang enthusiasts who serve as very vocal brand ambassadors.”
While many muscle cars, including the 2019 Mustang Bullitt, only come with a manual transmission, this limited-edition Mustang GT California Special will be available with a 10-speed automatic. The vehicle goes on sale this summer. A price has not been set. A 2018 Mustang GT started at $35,190.
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