The 1968 Mustang was little changed from it 67 counterpart. Most of the changes were in subtle refinements to the interior and exterior. Several new options were added and engines switched around also. The 302-4V, 230 horsepower engine replaced the 289 Challenger Special of previous years. By December of 67, the 289 engine was replaced entirely by the 302 version.
The 1968 Mustang was little changed on the outside from it 1967 counterpart apart from the obvious side reflectors that were now mandated. Most of the changes were in subtle refinements to the interior and exterior that most people didn’t notice. Cosmetically they had different simulated side scoops. The 1968 scoop looked more like a vertical “C” whereas the 1967 looked like air intake openings.
Other changes included the deletion of the horizontal grille bars. The grille featured a running Mustang inside a corral in the center of the grille. There was also the deletion of the F-O-R-D letters at the front of the hood, simplification of the quarter panel ornament, and many safety features (increasing governmental regulations).
These safety changes on the 1968 Mustang included front and rear side marker lights, folding, flush mounted interior door pulls, and an energy absorbing steering column. As mentioned above, the 1968 also had front and rear side marker lights too.
New options for 68 included an AM/FM stereo radio, rear window defogger (coupe and fastback only) and re-designed front power disc brakes. The interior also received a shock absorbing steering column, fold down door handles and more comfortable seats.
The 289 cubic inch 2V V8 engine was installed in the 1968 Mustangs up until December of 1967, then it was replaced with the 302 cubic inch 2V B8. The new 302 4v engine and a Thunderbird 390 4 (280hp) and Thunderbird Special 390 4V (320hp) engines were added to the engine line-up. Any big block engine got front disc brakes by default.
The 325 bhp, 390 cid engine was now a new “FE” block and 11,475 buyers stepped up for that motor. On the interesting end of the spectrum, the top engine option was a low riser version of Ford’s 427 cid V8, only available with an automatic transmission and only until December 1967. It was rated at 390 bhp and cost a whopping $622. Very few were sold; look for a W in the VIN. This gas drinking monster sported a 600 CFM (too small) carburetor.
A new powerhouse engine was produced and put into service. The 428 cobra jet engine was introduced to the Mustang chassis. Although this car was rated at 335 horsepower, it actually produced over 400 hp (check out the NHRA Cobra Jet / 135 Series below for more information).
Special Edition Models & Variants
The GT option was offered again in 1968. It could be purchased if you ordered the 230, 325 or 390 hp engines. The package consisted of 14 inch styled steel wheels, a pop open GT gas cap, “C” side striping and a GT side emblem. There were only 17,458 GT’s manufactured in 1968. There were several “region specific” models offered from various dealers. Two of the most notable were the California Special, and the High Country Special which were produced to help boost sales in California and Colorado. There was a Red Bird Special Mustang built for the states of Virginia and North Carolina. This edition was sold there because the states bird was the Cardinal and on the rear of the car was a gold badge with a red Cardinal on it.
The 1968 Shelby came in three models: the GT-350 which had the 306 hp 302 cubic inch V8 engine, the GT-500 which got the 335 hp 428 cubic inch V8 engine, and the GT-500KR (King of the Road) which had the 400 hp 428ci Cobra Jet V8 engine. The 1968 Shelby featured twin hood scoops at the leading edge of the car, hood pins, fiberglass front valance, and the first American twin rectangular driving lights.
The 1968 Mustang GT was a special options package that could be added to any Mustang with the 302 cubic inch or 390 cubic inch V8 engines. The elements of the 1965-67 Mustang GT equipment group carried over into 1968. The 302-cubic-inch V8 version was known at the GT package and the much more powerful 390 cubic inch V8 was known as the GT390.
During the 1968 model run, the California Western region Ford Dealers offered a limited production Mustang which was based on the Shelby Mustang GT that was planned to be built, but was never actually produced. The California Special sprout from these cancelled Shelby GT plans. The California Special was a base model Hardtop mustang with some added body components and mid-body striping. The GT/CS’s were built only out of the San Jose, California plant. There were a total of 4,118 GT/CS mustangs produced in 1968. This mustang came with the Interior Decor Trim and Exterior Decor Trim package. Also on the exterior was a “ducktail” spoiler, 1965 Thunderbird tail lights, and a mid-body tape stripe.
Produced from 1966 through 1968, the Colorado-area Mustang High Country Special is closely related to the California Special GT/CS. In 1968, Denver’s success with the High Country Specials inspired Ford to design and produce 4,118 copies of a limited edition coupe for its West Coast dealers. Based on Carroll Shelby’s “Little Red” ’67 show car hardtop, the California Special (GT/CS) was a combo of the Mustang GT and GT350/500 parts. Of the 4,118 units produced 251 were High Country Specials.
The Golden Nugget Special Mustang was sold out of the Seattle District Sales office in 1968. All were sunlit yellow mustangs which featured unique golden plaques on the dashboard with the original owner’s name engraved. The Golden Nugget Specials only totaled 525, and featured the special yellow paint along with the louvered hood and black stripes. All of the GNS Mustangs feature the DSO (74) along with the four digits 1111 and the color code (Y).
The Sprint package was a springtime limited edition which was an appearance package available on 6 cylinder cars. In 1968 a Sprint B was offered which included all the Sprint options but a V-8 was mandatory and It also included GT equipment- GT wheels fog lamps and exhaust. Even with two packages, the ’68 Sprint program wasn’t nearly as successful as the previous ’67 promotion.
In 1968 production-car drag racing was popular and was good for business. The muscle car era was in full swing and big horsepower was king. The goal was simple, have the lightest car with the biggest and most powerful engine. Manufacturers created special packages you could buy off the lot, all designed to beat the competition. The old adage that “weekend wins at the strip translated to weekday sales in the showroom” was not lost on Ford. In 1968, the original FE 428-cubic-inch V8-powered Cobra Jet was created for this purpose. Ford went ahead and produced 50 lightweight Mustangs to hold the 335-horsepower engine.
The T-5 was available from 1964 to 1979. As we mentioned in the 1966 T-5 post, the German truck manufacturer, Krupp owned the German copyrights to the name Mustang so Ford had to rename the Mustang to the Ford T-5.
Virginia and North Carolina got their own territorial special in 1968 and it was known as the Mustang Cardinal Edition. It, like the other territorial specials was made up of largely dealer-installed cosmetic upgrades. All Cardinal Specials included the Sprint Package A equipment, standard black interior, red or white exterior, and a unique diamond shaped emblem affixed to the C-pillar.
The 1968 Branded Mustang was created by dealerships to spiff up Mustangs for resale. The 1968 Branded Special was simply a kit distributed to Ford dealers across the country to help the sale of the occasional Mustang on a used car lot.
There was also a Color of the Month Promotion that focused on specific colors for specific months, usually associated with a holiday theme. For the first four months of 1968, Ford’s Denver Sales District promoted these like Black Hills Gold for the New Year celebration in January, Passionate Pink was the color of choice for Valentine’s day in February, Emerald Green for St. Patrick’s day in March, and Eastertime Coral for Easter in April. Importantly, the “Passionate Pink” cars are sometimes misunderstood to be Playboy Pink or Playmate Pink. It is estimated that only ten of these cars were built. On these cars, as well as other cars with “Color of the Month” colors, the paint code was left blank.
An interesting car is the Special Dakota Days Gold Mustang. The Special Dakota Days Gold Mustang is a South Dakota limited edition Mustang featuring Black Hills Gold special ordered paint, sport wheels, and louvered hood. This is one of the four 1968 Color of the Month special order paints, and now the color name makes sense. Black Hills Gold definitely says South Dakota. This special edition Mustang was limited to 20 convertibles and 5 hardtops.
The 1968 Mustang Bullitt was a Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT fastback used in the 1968 movie Bullitt starring Steve McQueen. The 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback (Bullitt – ‘599) is significant based on its association with an important person and event in American history and culture. Additionally, it is significant due to its largely original, unrestored state that is informative to its history as a movie car and as an automotive icon that vanished from public view and was highly sought after for almost half a century. It has the incredible combination of Hollywood royalty and decades of an honest family’s ownership and the secret that engulfed its mystery.
The Dixie Special came about when Louisiana/Mississippi dealers wanted to get in on the territorial specials that Ford was releasing in the late 1960s. The Dixie Special was not just limited to the Mustang. It included Mustang, Fairlane hardtop, and Ford XL fastbacks.
The Mustang Challenger Special package was available only for the 1968 model year and only as a dealer-installed option on Seafoam Green hardtop coupes. The Mustang Challenger Special first took the 289 V8 as its base and then, from early May onward, the 302 V8. The goal of the Mustang Challenger Special was to provide an economical way for drivers to get more performance out of their Mustang.
Not a lot is known about the ’68 Sunshine Special. A couple of facts are that it was sold out of the Florida Ford Sales region and was painted any color you desired – as long as it was a shade of yellow. This model is highly suspicious and nobody has yet proved to us that it actually exists.
A total of 317,404 Mustangs were sold in 1968. Hardtops remained the most popular model with 249,447 sold, followed by 42,325 fastbacks and 25,376 convertibles. Important to note is that there was a 60-day strike between September and November which contributed to the decline, and the Mustang slipped from second place to seventh in domestic production. To dive into the model and body splits as well as see charts and percentages, check out our 1968 Ford Mustang Production & Sales Numbers deep dive.
Options and Pricing
Base hardtop price was $2,707, fastback $2,818, and convertible $2,920.
New options for 1968 included an AM/FM stereo radio, rear window defogger (coupe and fastback only), re-designed front power disc brakes, and the all new 302 cid engine. There were several “region specific” models offered from various dealers. In terms of popular setups, the majority of cars featured standard interior trim, though about 5 percent had deluxe interiors and a handful were ordered with bench seats. Two-tone louvered hoods were optional on all models. Dash panels now featured wood grain appliques, front headrests were optional, and seat backs now locked in the upright position. For more detailed options and pricing, please check out our 1968 pricing and options research.
2 Door Hardtop
2 Door Convertible
2 Door Fastback
Exterior & Interior Colors
A total of 16 exterior colors were offered for the 1968 Mustang model year. Adding in Shelby colors and any special model colors and total comes to 45 options. As you may or may not know, several colors could be special ordered on any 1968 Mustang hardtop, fastback, or convertible. For detailed colors, color palettes, codes and interior colors please check out our in depth 1968 colors information post.
Dimensions, Weight & Capacities
There were no changes in terms of dimensions from the prior year Mustang.
We have mentioned before that getting accurate performance data on the early Mustangs is nearly impossible. In most cases only specific variant or engine combinations were ever tested. For 1968 we managed to find some data on the Mustang GT-390. As you learned above, the Mustang GT-390 got the powerful 390-cubic-inch V8 engine that was good for 335 horsepower. In Car and Driver testing, an automatic-equipped GT-390 posted a 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.8 seconds.