Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
The 1968 Ford Mustang received a simpler grille and side trim and a limited number of 427 engines were slipped into the engine bays. These 427 engines were slightly detuned but still cranked out 390bhp, enough to strike fear on the streets. Then on April 1, 1968, Ford unveiled perhaps its most famous line of engines, the 428 Cobra Jet. It was based on the regular 428 but included larger valve heads, the race 427's intake manifold, and an oil-pan windage tray.
It had ram-air induction and breathed through a functional hood scoop. Output was listed at 335bhp but was rumoured to be around 410bhp. The Shelby's were still available, joined by an available convertible model and renamed the Shelby Cobra. The GT-350 dropped its 289 cid 306 bhp engine and gained a 302 cid 250 bhp engine. Midway through the year, the GT-500 was dropped and was replaced by the GT-500KR ("King of the Road"). The GT-500KR sported the new Ram Air 428 Cobra Jet, still underrated at 335 bhp.
1968 Mustang Fastback GT
No matter what your prejudice is towards the Mustang, there is no denying the 1968
model boasted both garish good looks and throbbing V8 performance - everything the avid car collector of today is looking for. It was certainly a far better looking car than earlier models, which weren't duds anyway, and its crowd stopping appeal was immense. But it was not the fire-breathing, rubber-burning beast which the looks conveyed. It was not exactly slow either - but the exploits of drivers on the circuits had endowed the Mustang, any Mustang, with an aura of out and out competition - an aura which was misleading and may have left the buyer of the '68 Fastback a little disappointed - unless of course they optioned the 427.
But the 427 did not find its way under the bonnet of most Mustangs - instead it was the (still very capable) High-Performance 302 cubic inch unit, identical to that used in the Falcon GT, and the gearbox was the optional four speed (all synchro) manual with floor mounted control lever. External appearance was pure eye-candy, broad, black GT stripes running atop the bonnet and pin-striped white lines emphasising the fake air scoops ahead of the rear wheels. And the interior matched the external - the all black trim, comfortable bucket seats, map reading lights recessed into the roof, a battery of flashing red warning indicators, instruments and gauges all combined to thrust the driver into the world of personalised transport - for two.
And that was the catch - the Fastback was really only transportation for two. The rear seat compartment was very close to non-existent, leg room was nil, and head room was even less. But, if you were a contortionist and could manage to fit inside, you would have found it to be a pretty good place to be, because there were very few cars on the road at that time that could match the Mustang for looks. Behind the wheel, the driver faced a lovely well-grouped instrument cluster including fuel gauge
, clock and water temp gauge
with large diameter speedo
and matching tacho
easily read through the two spoke steering wheel. In the centre of the panel were the warning lights for safety belts, dwindling fuel supply, open door and parking brake.
Mustang vs. GT Falcon
Leg room for the driver was surprisingly limited and it was impossible to obtain anything resembling a 'long arm' Italian type driving position. Creature comforts however were magnificent for the time; stereo radio, inertia safety belts which vanished into the reel when not in use, and a remote control outside mirror (which for Australian drivers lost most of its practicality by remaining on the left hand door while the driver was transferred to the other side). But the question on everyone's lips, at least here in Australia, was how it compared to the GT Falcon
. At the time it was generally conceded that the Falcon GT was no slouch - and the Mustang GT was equal in everything but outright speed, and, more importantly - handling
In line-ahead acceleration the two cars were almost identical with only tenths of seconds separating them but the Falcon came out on top with a maximum speed of 125 mph against the Mustang's 116. Handling
was a different thing again and the Falcon GT
would literally run rings around the Mustang. Instant understeer, and a lot of it, was the car's feature under hard cornering yet strangely road testers of the time found that the Mustang was not as far behind as it felt, loping around any slalom course with a little too much body roll, but not enough to wash off any serious speed. The reason may have been thanks to the local boys at Ford Australia, who did some pretty intensive testing with the original rubber before comprising with Goodrich radial FR70 x 14 tyres
up front and Goodyear D70 x 14 tyres
at the rear. As shod from the factory ex-US delivery, the Mustang was, it was reported in some motoring journals, a bit of a dog.
was a strongpoint and the Mustang, which could achieve a best minimum distance (without locked wheels) of 164 feet from 60 . Despite the car's shortcomings the Mustang had a lot going for it. Sure, the GT Falcon
was better in performance and handling
, and for many the conversation needed to end there. But, if you wanted something just a little off the pace, but with US muscle car good looks, the Mustang GT was the answer. It was a hard accelerating car with brakes to match, steering
was good and road-holding at speed was considerably better than prior models. Creature comforts were excellent if the car was considered as an essentialy two seat sporty vehicle - the boot space was ridiculous.