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2007+ GT/CS IDENTIFICATION
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1968 GT/CS & HCS
2007+ GT/CS
1966-1967 HCS

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1968 GT/CS & HCS Identification

Following is a detailed list of the features found on the 1968 California Special & High Country Special Mustangs. With the exception of the items in this list, the GT/CS and HCS used the same parts as standard '68 Mustangs. They could be ordered with any engine, transmission, color or option as long as the body style was a coupe. No convertible or fastback "Specials" were produced in 1968.

TRUNK LID AND QUARTER EXTENSIONS


GT/CS rear end w/ fiberglass trunk lid
Fiberglass quarter panel extensions
Integral "duck tail" spoiler
Perhaps the most striking element of the GT/CS and HCS, the thing that makes even the most casual Mustang enthusiast say, "what kind of Mustang is that?" is the unique tail section.

Comprised of a fiberglass trunk lid and quarter panel extensions with integral spoiler, horizontal 1965 Thunderbird tail lights and a special pop-off gas cap, many loyal Mustang lovers mistake it for a Shelby from the rear. (or worse yet, accuse the innocent owner of trying to create a fake Shelby!) The mistake is understandable as many of the parts are shared with the 67-68 Shelbys. The fiberglass trunk lid and quarter panel extensions are the same as 68 Shelby convertibles. Their production was contracted out by Ford to A.O. Smith, Ionia, Michigan, as were all the fiberglass components on the GT/CS and HCS.

The rear face of the trunk lid features horizontal stripes and a chrome "Mustang" script fastened to the upper right corner. This is the same script emblem used on all 1968 Mustang front fenders. The stripes continue from the upper edge of the integral spoiler by turning downward onto the rear quarter panel extensions.

TAIL LIGHTS


1968 GT/CS tail lights (same as 1965 T-bird)
Correct all chrome bezels. No black trim paint.
The tail lights too are shared with 68 Shelbys (67 Shelbys used Cougar tail lights), although they first appeared on 65 Thunderbirds. In order to fit these tail lights in the solid concave rear panel on 68 Mustangs, Ford had to cut four additional holes in the sheet metal. A fiberglass cover panel was then placed over the rear so the new tail lights could be mounted. These lights required a special wiring harness which plugs into the stock Mustang pig tail leading to the trunk. The fiberglass rear panel is the same as the 68 Shelbys, however the wiring harness is completely unique to the GT/CS and HCS. This is one of the key areas to check when verifying a potential GT/CS or HCS.

It is a common misconception that the GT/CS and HCS cars used sequential rear turn signals. Sequential signals were a unique and popular feature on 65-71 Thunderbirds and 67-73 Cougars where the 3 separate bulbs behind each tail light lens would light up in sequence from the middle out. This gave the impression of the lights "pointing" the way the car was going to turn. Although this feature did make it into 68 Shelbys, it was never an option for the GT/CS or HCS.

As a side note, it is my understanding that the rear fiberglass panel was always painted the body color. However, I have seen several photos of GT/CS or HCS's where this panel has been painted argent, or silver which was typical of Shelbys of that era. I assume this is not original, however if anyone knows of an unrestored GT/CS or HCS which did have this panel painted argent, please let me know.

POP-OFF GAS CAP


1968 GT/CS pop-off gas cap
The GT/CS and HCS came with a unique gas cap. It was a pop-off design similar to the 1968 Mustang GT or Shelby caps, but without the GT or Cobra emblem. Instead, a running horse inset in a rectanglular "corral" resides in the center. This same cap was used on the Sprint package and was also available as a dealer option.

SIDE SCOOPS


GT/CS side scoops
Perforated metal screen w/ rivets
One part completely unique to the GT/CS and HCS are the fiberglass side scoops. Although very similar in design to the 67-68 Shelbys, the GT/CS and HCS scoops are not functional. To give the look of a real scoop, Ford placed a perforated metal screen at the scoop's "inlet." Behind this was a black vinyl to give the the appearance of a functional scoop.
1968 HCS side scoop decal
Running horse with mountain background
While the scoop itself is identical on both the GT/CS and HCS, the decal on it is one of only two cosmetic differences between the two. (The other is the "California Special" fender script. See text below for more on this.) The GT/CS has the letters "GT/CS" stenciled out of the wide center stripe, letting the cars paint color show through.

The HCS on the other hand has a shield shaped decal which is applied in the middle of the triple body stripes on the scoops. It features a running horse in front of a silhouetted mountain background. Below the horse are the words "High Country Special '68" The decals were side specific, requireing one for the drivers side and one for the passengers. These decals were originally made by a Denver company, Decals, Inc and were applied at the dealership. Due to various reasons, it appears that not all cars had this decal applied before leaving the sales lot, resulting in a few "naked" HCS's. The decals are currently being reproduced by the original supplier and can be obtained by contacting Bob Teets, who also runs the 66-68 HCS registry. (special thanks to Bob for the above info)

Misaligned decal on my unrestored HCS
Note: Due to dealer application of HCS decals, some scoop stripes were poorly aligned. See photo of unrestored HCS side scoop at left bottom. This is just one of the many decisions to be made when restoring one of these cars. Should factory imperfections be reproduced or should the car be restored to "better than new" condition?

"CALIFORNIA SPECIAL" SCRIPT


GT/CS script on rear fender
Early model with recessed reflectors
Later model with surface mounted reflectors
The other cosmetic difference between the GT/CS and HCS is the chrome "California Special" script which, for obvious reasons, was not used on the HCS. This script is fastened to the rear quarter panels above the reflectors and is made up of two separate pieces, one for each word. The script used a cursive font similar in style and size to the "Mustang" script found on the front fenders of all 1968 Mustangs. The usual front fender "horse and bars" emblem was deleted on GT/CS and HCS cars.

BODY STRIPING


Side and tail stripes
White side stripes w/ white vinyl top
Red stripes w/ red interior
White stripes on darker paint colors
Tail stripes on spoiler & quarter panel extensions
One of the most noticeable features of the GT/CS and HCS is the unique GT body striping. The triple stripe (one wide center stripe flanked by two narrow ones) begins at the front edge of the front fender and extends to the rear of the side scoop. Striping was available in four different colors depending on the paint and interior color of the car; black, white, red or blue.

BLACKED-OUT FRONT GRILLE


Blacked out grille
Detail of Dark Gray Metallic paint
The GT/CS and HCS received a unique blacked-out front grille without the chrome horse and corral emblems found on standard 1968 Mustangs. The GT/CS and HCS grille used the same rectangular grille pattern, but did not have the filled-in mounting areas for the stock Mustang grille emblems. The GT/CS and HCS grille gives a more clean, uncluttered appearance without any ornamentation or emblems of any kind. Color is Dark Gray Metallic (Ditzler/PPG #32930). Thanks to 390cs68rcode for the great photos.

These grilles are no longer available through Ford or any aftermarket supplier. While perhaps not appropriate for a concours show car, a stock 1967 Mustang grille can be modified to be a very close replica.

FOG LIGHTS


Marchal fog lights
Close up of Marchal lense with raised star pattern
In lieu of the stock grille emblems, factory fog lights, either Marchal or Lucas, were installed. In the first few months of production Ford used a light made by Marchal. This was a rectangular, clear lensed fog light with a raised “star” in the center of the glass and an “eyebrow” at the top. The Marchal lights were mounted with an angled bracket that attached to the grille, and was hidden behind the lamp. This gave the appearance of the fog lamp floating in the blacked out grille.

Lucas fogs w/ Dark Gray Metallic grille & trim
Lucas pedestals. Note washer at base.
Thanks to Jason (390cs68rcode) for the great photos
At some point in early GT/CS production it was determined that the Marchal lights were illegal for highway use in California. This led Ford to change to the Lucas fog lights which were used in the remainder of the GT/CS cars, as well as all 68 HCS’s. Ford also issued a factory recall replacing some of the Marchal lights on cars that had already been sold. Because of this the Marchal lights are very rare today and hard to find parts for. The Lucas fog lights were also a rectangular design but without the “star” or “eyebrow” molded into the lens. Rather than mounting to the grille, they sat atop tubular stands which were bolted to the wide grille trim. These stands or posts were painted the same Dark Gray Metallic (Ditzler/PPG #32930) color as the trim to help them disappear and again give that floating appearance to the lights. Note the rubber ring at base of Lucas tubular stand/pedestal.

COMPETITION STYLE HOOD LOCKS


Quarter turn hood locks
Hood lock disassembled
Hood lock retainer bracket
Hood lock hole from below. It's a circle, despite the odd photo angle.
The GT/CS and HCS also featured a hood with integral turn signals (practically a standard option on all 68 Mustangs by this point anyway) and factory installed chrome hood locks. These locks were in addition to the standard center mounted hood safety latch. They were a quarter turn design (also called DZUS) and mounted through factory cut holes in the hood. When the hood was closed a turn of the locks secured them to special latches bolted to the radiator support.

The factory holes (2 1/2" diameter) were obviously cut with a hole saw from the underside after paint. On unrestored cars these holes still have burs and cut marks visible. The large washer was secured to the hood with adhesive tape. Rivets were used on the 1968 Shelby fiberglass hoods, but not the steel hoods used on the GT/CS.


 


Web page composition & design copyright © 2000-2011 by Jonathan Hanna.
Additional HCS material provided by HCS Registrar Bob Teets.
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