The Richmond Auto Mall - Tony Whitney Reviews

Mar 1, 2018



There is perhaps nothing more fascinating in the auto industry than manufacturers re-introducing models that were a big hit many years before. And when it comes to reprising an iconic model nobody does it better than Ford with its many variations on the basic Mustang theme.

The Mustang is North America’s top selling sports car and has been for years and to help maintain the excitement, Ford has added special editions right back almost to the birth of the legendary pony car in 1964. Of special note are the Shelby, Boss and Bullitt models, though there have been many others – including the California Special.

The Mustang California Special, marketed as the GT/CS first appeared in 1968 as a limited edition car with Shelby Automotive involved in design and development. Just
over 4000 were made and today, the cars are much sought-after by collectors and can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. The cars are beast recognizable by several add-on glass fibre body parts and of course, by special identity logos.

The 2019 Mustang GT California Special (a limited design package) is a vastly different car from the pioneering models of yesteryear and boasts technology that wasn’t even dreamed of in the 1960s. Even so, the car features clever design touches that link it to the early models in the best possible way. It looks entirely contemporary, but design cues from earlier Mustangs are still there. Inside and outside the car, there’s special badging and the seat trim is custom embroidered.

Of course, the Mustang has always been about power and the new California Special, available in coupe and convertible form, won’t disappoint. Under the hood is a 5.0-litre V-8 with 460-horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. This is a fast car by any standard and the rumble of the V-8, which has a driver-controlled active exhaust note, is almost a key reason to buy the car. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and with advanced rev-matching, shifts are smoothed out thanks to technology that predicts the shifts and quickly matches engine RPM. It also aids fast downshifting. There is an automatic transmission available, but the rev-matching technology does not, of course, apply there.

While most people will buy this car for its performance and 1960s charisma, there’s another reason to look closely at this Ford. You can order the car with audio equipment from Bang & Olufsen, a Danish company and one of the world’s most respected names in the high-end audio field. The B&O setup in the California Special uses a 10-channel amplifier producing 1,000 watts across 12 high-performance speakers. Just the rig to listen to vintage Beach Boys music when you’re cruising your favourite roads! B&O play audio connects to an optional SYNC3 system which allows Apple CarPlay compatibility.

The 2019 Mustang will reach the dealerships late this summer and will be available in three new colours Ford calls “vintage inspired.” Also there to please the eye are fading stripes and painted five-spoke alloy wheels. Also back for 2019 is a new Bullitt edition Mustang.


BODY STYLE: 2+2 sports coupe

ENGINE: 5.0-litre V-8

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual with rev-matching

PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 4-seconds (estimated)

FUEL ECONOMY: Not yet listed by NRC Canada

PRICE: Will be announced closer to introduction date