In late 1969 Ford offered special-edition Mustang to dealers in the Kansas City area. Based on 1970 Mach 1 the cars were known as the “Twister Special.” Highlights include the Grabber Orange exterior paint along with custom “Twister Special” graphics. The Mustang Twister Special cars debuted for the Total Performance Day at the Kansas City, MO district sales office on November 7, 1969.
The Twister Special had a very interesting beginning. Late in the 1969 production year American Raceways, Inc. (ARI) contacted the Ford Motor Corporation regarding the production of pace cars for the race tracks in their organization. Ford eagerly obliged by designing a unique 1970 Mach 1 Mustang. Each car’s detailing was color coordinated to match ARI’s various race tracks. Unfortunately, the ARI went bankrupt and the cars were never delivered.
Fortunately for Ford, a special project was underway in Kansas City Missouri. People at the district sales office approached Ford about producing a flashy, high performance, promotional car for their “Total Performance Day” which would be held Friday, Nov. 7, 1969. Now, Ford had the opportunity to market the vehicles originally manufactured for ARI. Fords shipped 96 Mach I Mustangs and 90 Torino Cobras to Kansas City. They contracted with a detailing firm there to remove the ARI logos and replace them with the Mach I logo, Ford script, and the Twister Special logo.
On the morning of Nov. 7th, the assembly of Kansas City district dealers converged. Seminars and performances were given promoting Ford’s high performance cars and parts. The highlight of the day came in the afternoon when the dealers were treated to a display commemorating the event – 90 vermilion Torino Cobras, and 96 Grabber Orange Mach 1s – The Twister Special.
In all, 96 Twister Specials were built. These specially ordered and consecutively numbered Mach 1’s were a promotional Mustang made exclusively for the Ford Kansas City Sales District dealers (DSO 53). This covered an area including Kansas, Missouri and the Northwest corner of Arkansas.
The 1970 Twisters were a separate project utilizing the designs of the American Raceway Incorporated (ARI) pace cars. None of the pace cars were ever converted to Twister Special’s as stated in some magazine articles and websites.
Interestingly, the Twister Specials were originally slated to get only 428 super Cobra Jet engines, but Ford changed course and included some 351 Cleveland engines as well because they ran out of 428 SCJ engines. The 48 available 428 SCJ’s were used and the remaining 48 cars were equipped with the newly announced 351 Cleveland 4V engines. About half of the production run of Twister Specials were equipped with C6 automatic transmissions and the other 48 were equipped with 4 speed manual transmissions. The cars also got the Drag Pack suspension and that unique tornado decal on the rear fender with the words Twister Special. The only non-performance options were an AM Radio and Tinted Glass.
All 96, 1970 Twister’s were built at Dearborn in the early to middle part of October 1969. At the same time, in Atlanta, the 90, 1970 Twister Torino Cobra’s were being produced in Vermilion having either 429 CJ or 429SCJ engines. The Twister Mustangs were produced first. The Twisters were in the 118,000 VIN series while the 10 ARI pace cars were in the 120,000 series.
The cars were shipped to Ford’s Kansas City Claycomo assembly plant outbound transportation lot. Stripes and decals were applied by a detailing firm under contract with Ford’s Special Promotions Division. Completely finished, the cars were once again transferred, this time as the main attraction for Kansas City’s special day.