The big coming out party for the Fox body.
Ford had a lot riding on the new Fox architecture. While the Mustang II was the right car at the right time it was a victim of compromises. The new generation Mustang was to be the exciting symbol of the new and modern Ford. The hype machine in Dearborn was given the green light to recapture the pony car market. A big splash would be the official pace car of the Indianapolis 500. With the street edition pace car representing Ford’s vision of a modern sporty car. A Mustang steeped in tradition yet also carrying European sophistication.
First, let’s talk about the actual pace cars. Three cars were commissioned to pull duty at the Brickyard. The 5.0 V8 engines were prepped and modified by Roush, using 351 Windsor heads, 1970 Boss 302 solid lift cam. A modified C-4 automatic was the transmission in all three cars. The track duty editions were T-top cars an option that wouldn’t appear on street Mustangs till 1981. Racing legend Jackie Stewart who ran many a Ford to victory piloted the car to open the race.
When discussing the exterior appearance there isn’t much to differentiate the pace car from the street version pace car. Good job, Ford! Pewter is the main body color, flat black below the beltline and on the full-length hood scoop, tasteful orange and red accent stripes. Of course, no pace car package is complete without OFFICIAL PACE CAR decals emblazoned on the doors, orange is the hue. While T-tops were still a few years away for the Mustang all pace cars came with a pop-up/removable sunroof panel.
The 1979 pace car would start a Ford/Recaro relationship that would last decades. Pace cars came with Recaro bucket seats standard, the major auto magazines were pleased. Between the buckets was the console shift for the C-4 automatic or 4 speed-manual.
Unlike the actual pace car doing track duty the street version got an engine choice. The 2.3 liter turbo four-cylinder good for 130 bhp/142 ft-lbs, 4 speed manual transmission only. You could also get the 5.0 V8 just like the one in the track car, just kidding. You didn’t get the specially prepped Roush V8 without a care for emissions. You got the smog-choked V8 that last did duty in the Mustang II, good for a 140 bhp/250 ft-lbs. Choosing the eight also allowed one the option of an automatic. Despite the power deficit some 1,400 more customers left the dealer lot with the 2.3 liter turbo four-banger.
All pace cars came with a TRX performance suspension package. HD front and rear sway bar diameters and shock valving specs were engine choice dependent. All came with 390mm aluminum wheels which is just a tad over 15” for us red-blooded American types, shod with 190/65R Michelin tires. Discs up front, drums in the rear.
When searching for an authentic pace car look for 48 after the fifth character in the VIN. Speaking of there is a pace car available now on eBay.
Interesting that the owner seems to raise the price every 48 hours. This pace car was listed at $18K and now after a few re-listings is priced at $23K. What the seller seems to be going for is more of a survivor, mentioning things like original paint and stripes, original interior. Fading and wear can be seen inside and out. The seller mentions new reproduction 16 inch TRX wheels, new exhaust and a 5 speed manual which is great if you're really going to drive the car. According to the Hagerty value guide that current price is a #2 condition car. That is not what I see, more like a nice #3 driver. Get it at $18K then maybe you have a sweet deal.
An interesting side-note. One of the original 3 track-spec pace cars is housed in Indianapolis at the speedway museum. The other two were repainted white and repurposed for the 1979 Detroit Grand Prix, those cars sit in the Roush collection.
Questions, comments or like this below, thanks for reading.
No freaking way $90,000, you're drunk.
If we were sitting around with cigars and bourbon talking Fiero prices and someone mentioned a 1988 Fiero GT being worth $90K I'd laugh.
"No way, not even if it's the last one off the assembly line with 2 miles on the odometer, even if formerly owned by Tom Selleck"
Tom Selleck is not involved, it has 582 miles on the clock, pre-delivery protective plastic wrap still adorns the interior. The very last Fiero, the very last Pontiac built in Pontiac Michigan did sell for $90K at auction. The only owner of the car was a plant employee.
Read about the car, see more pics including cool plant photos, here:
Read about the auction results here:
Comment and like below.
I came across a pic of Catherine O'Hara with what I'm guessing was her Lincoln Continental. I was inspired to use some creative license and create a mock 1977 Lincoln Continental ad.
Classic car dealers aren't actually crackheads but sometimes you have to wonder.
For the classic car hobby especially the popular muscle cars there is plenty of market data. Car asking prices, check. Car selling prices, you know the actual value, check. For many segments of the malaise muscle car era that data doesn’t exist. That is true of the small yet passionate F-body cadre. No, not Camaro and Firebird. The Mopar guys into Aspens and the Volaré. The Mopar F-body covers everything from mild mundane transportation to wild…okay wildish. Aspen R/T and Volaré Road Runner carry the big price tags, along with limited edition types like Petty Kit Car and Super Coupes. As wagons have become popular so too are the F-body wagons. Some folks, the owners. They like seeing the prices of these cars going up. Some folks, like the ones who let one getaway but want another don’t like seeing prices rise. They quip how that clean, rust-free Aspen R/T with the modified 360 V8 isn’t worth the asking price. Because they bought one for $1,500 during Y2K. The truth is we don’t really know, there just aren’t that many bought and sold. Yet each time one gets listed we get a gleam on where the market is for these cars.
They are still a RWD Mopar bargain. Many already small-block equipped or ready to receive that 440 you built last winter. Still some are starting to cross into A-body money, the much more popular Duster and Dart Sport. A choice can come down to a really sweet and well sorted out Volaré Road Runner vs a rougher but all there Duster 360. Cars in the $14-18K range. Now too many classic car dealers see “Mopar” and start pricing these way off the mark.
“Dude, I can buy a real muscle era Road Runner for that money”.
That is the case with this Volaré Road Runner clone, built like the factory should have done it. Never mind emissions and fuel economy, just go with me here. Up front is a proper 383 4-barrel mated to a four-speed manual, yeah pistol grip shifter too. Headers with true dual exhaust, cats are for pussies so none of that. Beefy 8 ¾ rear axle, probably a Sure Grip…that’s a posi for you GM types. Vintage Air so your wife and girlfriend will ride along. Oh yeah, painted that cool hue that chicks like, purple. Stripes, spoilers, hood scoop…yeah, a hole cut in the hood for semi-functionality. Cragars man, Cragars. MOPAR in your FACE! That will be $32,900, son.
I didn’t mention the nice custom touches to the interior. You know what else I didn’t mention? The crushed K-frame and oil pan that appeared to have bottomed out entirely too much. Never mind that no Volaré is worth thirty grand, not even a four-thousand original mile, T-top Super Coupe found hermetically sealed in Norm Kraus’ garage. This car is not going to fetch $25K. Okay, maybe that one guy. No, seriously that car will sit forever on that lot. Today at eBay the auction ended, we learned after 22 bids that $17K is the ceiling. Reserve not met of course.
Now I can regale you story about a 1975 Road Runner with a similar ending but I won’t. Not today. I will point out a sensibly priced Mopar great for getting into the hobby. From a dealership/consigner. I’m not saying it worth the $11.5K asking price but it’s at a decent starting negotiation point. It’s at eBay with the Make an Offer option. A big block Chrysler with fine Corinthian Leather and cloth insert interior also A/C equipped.
Hit us up with a like, comment or question below. Let me know if you pick up that styling Cordoba!
John is a GenX car enthusiast who grew up driving classic muscle cars. He enjoys the new modern muscle cars that can out perform the classics in every way. In the sportscar world his banners are Viper and Corvette. John has a guilty pleasure. The disco era street machine. Those unloved, underpowered cars festooned with scoops, spoilers and stripes.