The quintessential style of west coast America has crossed the Atlantic as the Ford Mustang California Special arrives in Europe for the first time.
Embodying the free-spirited ethos of the 1968 original, the new California Special is offered exclusively in convertible body style with a folding soft-top for classic looks and open-air thrills. A special-edition design package with unique badging, detailing, 19-inch alloy wheels and special “colour shift” California Special decals delivers distinctive style, and Ford’s charismatic 450 PS V8 petrol engine provides the power for effortless cruising.
Inside, the Mustang California Special is designed to help liberate all the fun of the open road whatever the weather, with bespoke California Special detailing adding exclusive appeal. Standard comfort technologies include heated and cooled front seats, a 12-inch customisable instrument cluster, and advanced SYNC 3 connectivity that enables drivers to call up their favourite road trip soundtrack or find directions to the nearest beach using just their voice.
A new video released today by Ford marks the Mustang California Special’s arrival in Europe by celebrating the spirit of Mustang and demonstrating that California is a state of mind to be enjoyed wherever you are.
“The California Special is a huge part of the Mustang’s legacy in America and it symbolises so much of what Mustang stands for: The joy of driving and the freedom of the open road. Those ideals resonate just as strongly with driving enthusiasts in Europe, so it’s about time customers here got to experience the unique California Special blend of style, performance and driving fun,” said Matthias Tonn, Mustang chief programme engineer, Ford of Europe.
Classic design reinvented
When the now iconic Ford Mustang first hit the streets in 1964, owners’ clubs sprang up across America, with many regional dealers creating their own personalised designs. One – inspired by the 1967 Shelby GT notchback coupe prototype – came to be called the California Special.
That original version featured a blacked-out grille, fog lights and a side racing stripes that ended ahead of new rear side air scoops, as well as a Shelby-inspired spoiler. Impressed, Ford put a limited number of California Special cars into production for 1968.
The newest interpretation – available only as a folding soft-top convertible in homage to the famously Mediterranean-like climate of “the Golden State” – reflects the original with a honeycomb front grille finished in Ebony Black and featuring a GT/CS badge in Race Red, as well as lower side stripes finished in black, red and grey. Incorporating GT/CS logos, the stripes run from the front to rear wings and feature a hidden “California Special” script that is almost invisible in low light conditions but becomes much more prominent in stronger sunlight.
Like the original, aerodynamic enhancements hint at V8 performance, with a larger front splitter and optional rear side air scoops. At the rear, a California Special faux filler cap sits above quad tailpipes. Unique five-spoke alloy wheels add to the exclusivity. Front 19 x 9-inch and rear 19 x 9.5-inch wheels are finished in Carbonised Grey to complement the front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser. Under the bonnet, a strut tower brace features a California Special badge.
Nine exterior colours include signature Grabber Blue and Cyber Orange, contrasting with the black roof that folds to transform the coupe profile into a sleek convertible in eight seconds.
Further unique design touches and comfort features inside the Mustang California Special highlight its special-edition status. Standard heated and cooled front seats help occupants stay comfortable with the roof down in summer or winter. The leather seats and door inserts are part-finished in grey Miko® suede – an ecological, synthetic material made from recycled polyester – with red stitching. Seats and floor mats are embossed with the GT/CS logo, and the instrument panel is finished in Carbon Hex aluminium with a unique Mustang California Special badge.
Ford’s SYNC 3 communication and entertainment system 1 is designed to always be ready for a spur of the moment road trip, enabling drivers to control their connected smartphones, audio, navigation, and climate functions with conversational voice commands and a central 8-inch touch screen. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 2 at no extra cost and connectivity is provided on the move by a standard FordPass Connect modem. 3
Standard driver assistance technologies including Adaptive Cruise Control with Pre-Collision Assist and Lane Keeping Alert 4 help make every day driving less demanding, with the ultimate in stress relief provided by the folding roof, creating unlimited headroom.
The Mustang California Special’s 5.0-litre Ford V8 engine – delivering 450 PS and 529 Nm 5 of torque – provides the performance and soundtrack befitting a special-edition Mustang.
Combined with Ford’s six-speed manual transmission featuring rev-matching technology for seamless gearchanges and an even sportier character, the model accelerates from 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds. Ford’s advanced 10-speed automatic transmission delivers 4.5-second 0‑62 mph acceleration.
The automatic transmission also optimises performance depending on the selected Drive Mode. 4 Normal, Sport, Track and Snow/Wet modes deliver the appropriate driving experience whether on Route 66 or the A6. Good Neighbour mode can automatically limit the exhaust’s noise output at pre-programmed times of the day.
Traction and cornering grip are maximised by a standard limited-slip differential and an available MagneRide® 6 suspension system. It monitors conditions one thousand times per second and uses an electronically-controlled fluid to match damping resistance to the driving scenario.
The Ford Mustang California Special expands the European Mustang family that includes the Mustang GT fastback and convertible, the track-ready Mustang Mach 1, and the all-electric Mustang Mach-E and Mustang Mach-E GT. 5
Mustang Mach-E combines the style, character and performance of the iconic sports car with an energy-efficient, battery-electric drivetrain capable of delivering up to 610 km WLTP pure-electric driving range. 5 Mustang Mach-E GT delivers Ford’s most exhilarating all-electric production vehicle driving experience yet, with a specially tuned all-wheel drive powertrain offering 487 PS and 860 Nm for 0-62 mph acceleration in 3.7 seconds. 7