1968 FORD Mustang- Tracy, Oakland, CA Print
Written by Double Dragon
Thursday, 12 June 2014 20:45

1968 FORD Mustang- Tracy, Oakland, CA


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

68 mustang tracy oak ca front

This nice Mustang has passed down to Tracy from his mother Tanya who ordered it new. Tracy's grandmother also played a role in the history of this car as will be revealed in the story.

The 1968 Mustang looked a lot like the original Mustang first introduced in April 1964 as a 1965 model year sensation. Knowing that GM, Chrysler and AMC were going to counterattack with their own 'ponycars' Ford couldn't rest. Anticipating larger engines from the competitors as the musclecar wars heated up, Ford needed to get a bigger engine than a 289 into the Mustang. The way to accomplish it was to retain the classic proportions and styling cues but make the car larger.

With 2 inches added to the length and 2 inches increased width Ford could stuff a 390 engine into the newly enlarged 1967 Mustang. Ford's 390 was the equal to the biggest AMC engine and nearly as large as top Camaro and Firebird engines. Chrysler was about to upset everyone by taking the already unbalanced 383 Barracuda and jamming a ridiculous 440 into it. Carroll Shelby managed to retain some sense of drivable performance with his monster big block 428 version of the Mustang.

The 1968 Mustang carried over the same body with some added side marker lights and other minor detail tweaks. In the middle of the 1968 model year Ford finally decided to take the bull by horns and provide the Mustang with street credentials. The 428 Cobra Jet Mustang was praised in HOT ROD as the fastest stock factory regular production musclecar when it was released.

It is ironic that with an engine bay capable of swallowing up a 428 this particular Mustang has a 115 HP 200 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine under its hood. People forget that most Mustangs were equipped this way. The average buyer loved the looks and sporty feel of the Mustang but were also equally enamored with its affordability. Mustangs ordered with a straight 6 standard engine were more common than any of the V8s back in the 1960s.

68 mustang tracy oak ca engine driver side

Although it was usually a financially motivated decision when a Mustanger sat pat with the 6 cylinder engine in the case of this ONE FAMILY Mustang it was not financial. Tanya's mother didn't want her daughter to drive a powerful V8 car. Tanya needed her mother to co sign for her,

"If you want me to co- sign for it, you have to take a six."

Tanya wanted the 289 and figured that was reasonable since her mother ordered a 1968 LTD with a 390 in it.at the same time as the Mustang. Tanya's mother wouldn't budge and the result is a 200 cubic inch 6 cylinder underhood. The 1968 Mustang engine bay contains incredible amounts of space to work on the engine when a 6 is installed. Compared to today's cars where you you can barely fit a shim in between the fenders and the engine the 1968 Mustang engine bay has almost enough space on either side of the engine to stand beside it.

68 mustang tracy oak ca engine top

The Mustang itself is such a desirable car that Tanya realized that getting a 6 was really just a detail. Below is the original purchase agreement with Tanya's last name and the final digits of the VIN removed. See the story on Cirimele Ford Sales Inc filed under CALIFORNIA/ OAKLAND in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website.

68 mustang tracy purchase agreement

Sharp eyed readers may have noticed the salesman's mistake in filling out the order form. He entered 8 cylinders for the engine type. The 'T' indicating a 6 in the VIN from the paperwork matches the 'T' in the VIN on the car and all the listed options match the car and door plate. It seems that the salesman must have unconsciously absorbed Tanya's yearning for a V8 when he wrote up the order!

Tanya's Mustang came with power steering, automatic transmission, remote outside rear view mirror, radio, black vinyl top and an interesting option: the functional louvered hood. The bottom photo in this article shows the hood raised. You can see the sky through the mesh screen louvers. The louvers helped lower underhood pressure and temperature.

Below is the door plate with the last few digits of the VIN removed.

8= 1968 Model year

R= San Jose, California final assembly plant

01= Mustang hardtop

T= 200 c.i. 6 cylinder engine (Standard engine)

68 Mustang Tracy door tag

The door tag tells us additional information:

Bodystyle 65A= Hardtop body with standard interior

Color 1= Lime Gold

Trim 2A= Black vinyl

Date 16D= April 16, 1968

DSO 72= San Jose, California District Sales Office

Axle 4= 2.83:1 ratio.

Transmission W= C4 Automatic

The paperwork from Cirimele Ford proves that ordering a 6 really did cut your costs. Aside from lower operating costs (gas, maintenance and insurance) the initial cost was low enough to make the Mustang affordable to almost anyone. That was the secret of the Mustang success story. Finally a prestige car was within the reach of people with ordinary incomes.

The only part of this Mustang that reveals its low cost are the 'dog dish' standard hubcaps. These partial wheel covers were also nicknamed 'poverty caps' and were frequently found on economy cars or full blown musclecars where the owner dispensed with the expense of fancier hubcaps in anticipation of replacing the wheels with mags upon taking delivery of the car.

68 Mustang tracy hubcaps

Overlooking the hubcaps everything else about a standard Mustang fostered the illusion of an expensive car with sporting options. Mustang came standard from the very start with bucket seats, full carpeting and a sporty steering wheel at a time when most economy cars looked like plain stripped boxes. The very first Mustang had a rectangular strip speedometer with round gauges optional but soon Ford decided to put 5 round gauges as standard equipment in all Mustangs to further enhance the sporty style.

68 mustang tracy int

Tanya's Mustang was ordered with minimal options but the standard Mustang features remind you that this is a special personal sporty vehicle and not just a drab commuter anonymousmobile.

68 Mustang Tracy shifter

Note the floor mounted automatic shifter. No console was ordered but the plain shifter still looks good and conveys the appropriate sports car flavor to the driving experience. In 1968 the majority of automatic transmission cars used a column shifter, so by comparison this was a sporty set up.

68 mustang tracy gauges

Even a base model 6 cylinder came with a full set of sporty round gauges. Note the odometer. It has been around once, so the indicated 73,314 miles is actually 173,314 miles. The Mustang logged all of those miles primarily as a commuter vehicle back and forth to work for Tanya and later for her son Tracy when it became his daily driver to and from high school and as a work commuter when he graduated.

Tracy was 10 years old when Tanya first brought the Mustang home from the dealership. The first day with the Mustang was memorable for the wrong reasons. Tanya accidentally dropped the garage door on the front hood of the Mustang! She immediately returned to the dealership to have it taken care of. After that inauspicious beginning, the Mustang led a charmed life.

68 Mustang Tracy toll bridge tickets

Tanya used to cross the Bay Bridge from Oakland to work daily and used these types of tokens for her daily commute. Logging 173,314 miles in the daily grind of traffic is no picnic but the Mustang survived very well. That isn't to say that it escaped the crazy drivers entirely. Although the Mustang was never in a major accident it was dinged on 3 different rear enders and one hubcap received a dent. That's pretty good for being out there in the traffic all those miles.

Not much was needed to keep the car going. At one point when Tracy was working in a radiator shop he had the original radiator boiled and rodded (a dying art). The little 200 c.i. 6 has held up remarkably well and the transmission was trouble free. The car eventually needed a paint job which is an inescapable event in the lives of California cars where the sun UV rays attack the paint mercilessly. The black vinyl top looks great. The interior was never fried like so many California cars because the Mustang spent quite a lot of its life indoors in a garage. The only non original part of the interior right now is the radio which was switched.

68 Mustang Tracy driverseat

The driver's seat is nearly perfect. Noitice how nice the sill plate and steering wheel rim is. The car has been very well cared despite the extensive driving it has seen. A lot of this is of course due to the fact it was garaged.

68 Mustang Tracy pedals

The pedals have minimal wear which is surprising for such a high mileage car, particularly one without the chrome edge protection on the pedals. The carpet is well covered with mats and shows some wear but nothing too serious.

68 Mustang Tracy rear

Note the louvers in the hood from this angle with the hood raised.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 03 August 2014 10:17 )