1966 Mustangs - One of Ford's Most Popular Classic Mustangs
When the average person thinks about a classic Mustang, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is a Cherry Red 66 Mustang Coupe. The 1966 Mustangs were a smash! Ford sold over 600,000 of these, making it nearly twice as popular as it's competitor that year, the Chevy Impala. In fact, it was the best selling Mustang of all time!
The 1966 Mustang Fastback wasn't nearly as popular as the coupe. Ford saw this as an opportunity to redesign it to appeal more to the masses, so 1966 was the last year for the original Mustang Fastback design. In our day, the low production of fastback 1966 Mustangs, as well as the fact that it was redesigned the following year, make it a highly collectible vintage car.
What were some of the differences between the 1965 Mustangs and the new 1966 Mustang model? The most obvious difference is the trim. The new 66's were outfitted with a new front grille, side grille, side ornamentation, gas cap and wheel covers. The new side ornamentation is perhaps the most identifiable mark on a 66 Mustang. Many would describe it as a chrome ornament that looks like the letter "E", as opposed to the 65 Model's "little L" shape. The 65 Mustang borrowed it's instrument cluster from the Ford Falcon, but the new 66 Mustang model got a new set of instruments and some of the previously optional dash features became standard equipment. 1966 was also the first year the steel wheel option was offered. These popular 1966 Mustangs were also now available in a larger variety of exterior and interior colors and the AM/FM Mono automobile radio was first included as an option.
Under the hood you'd find a few new upgrade options such as a cruise-o-matic three speed auto transmission or an automatic C4 transmission. There was also the option of a long duration solid-lifter camshaft "HiPo" paired with a 1" thick vibration damper which eliminated the need to have a vacuum unit on the distributor and added to the base horsepower of the 289 engine. The new 66 Mustang also featured adjustable rocker arms which was an upgrade from the 65 Mustang model.
Special Edition 1966 Mustangs
1966 MUSTANG GT
All GTs were adapted from a version of the Ford Mustang V-8 engine. Other than the engine upgrades that Carroll Shelby made, the GT had some significant trim differences from the standard 66 Mustang. The 1966 Mustang GT had a new gas cap and the driving lamps were standard. It also came with racing stripes but did not come with chrome rocker panels or the identifiable chrome trim side scoop that all other 66 Mustang models had.
1966 MUSTANG HIGH COUNTRY SPECIAL
In 1966 Ford introduced the 'High Country Special' limited edition Mustang. Only 333 of these were sold in that year. A limited number of states were provided with these models, namely Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The High Country Special was introduced to boost sales in low markets, particularly Colorado. Little different than other 66 Mustangs, the High Country Special had a decorative badge and was limited to three color choices: Aspen Gold, Timberline Green, and Columbine Blue.
1966 MUSTANG K CODE
From 1965 to 1967 Ford also manufactured what is referred to as the K Code Mustang or the "Hi-Po". The name K Code comes from the letter K that appears in all original K Code VINs and Hi-Po, of course, comes from the term "High Performance".
How was the K Code different from other 1966 Mustang engines? A lot is said by the badge that was added to the front fenders. It read "High Performance 289". Yes, the K Code was all about performance! What are some interesting facts about the K Code Mustang? Well, for starters Carroll Shelby opted to use a modified version of the K Code engine to build the first Shelby GT350R. From top to bottom, these cars were built for performance. The engine featured upgraded pistons, cylinder heads, carburetor, connecting rods and lifter heads. The driveline of K Codes was built with a high performance clutch, suspension, drive shaft, and rear differential.
All this horsepower didn't come without a price. If you're looking for a stock 1966 Mustang K Code don't expect to find one with air conditioning or power steering. The lack of options account for the fact that the K Code performs at an estimated 271 horsepower! One thing that you may find is an automatic transmission. Though the previous K Code models only came with a standard 4 speed, 1966 was the first year Ford offered the automatic trans as a standard option.
1966 Mustang Shelbys
Ford was still reeling over the profitability of the 65 Mustang Shelby. The realization that a race car could find popularity among the general masses caused them to rethink some of the cosmetic decisions they had made in regards to the 65 Mustang Shelby.
In 1966, they kept the rear seat in place and made it available in a variety of colors. Hertz rent a car gave Ford a great surprise when they ordered 1,001 1966 Mustang Shelby cars in Hertz signature black with gold trim. The cars were quickly dubbed "Rent a Racers" and further propelled the popularity of Mustang Shelbys. Now a person could rent a weekend sports car for fun or even a prolonged test drive. In modern times these cars are difficult to find. The immense wear and tear on these rent-a-racers was a sure thing.
Some of the other differences between 65 and 66 Mustang Shelbys included a slight emblem change on the front grille as well as changes to other GT350 badging, functional side scoops and most notable; plexiglass louvers. Under the hood, Shelby added overall horsepower to the already powerful 289 in part by adding aluminum Cobra valve covers and a chrome air cleaner. The 1966 Mustang Shelby is where racing and the everyday American driver came together to create a golden era in classic car history.