Mustangs served as Indianapolis 500 pace cars just three times in the car’s 47 year history – 1964, 1979 and 1994 – and examples of those three pace cars were on display in Mustang Alley at the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise last weekend. This beautifully preserved 1964 version was among them and you will probably never see a ‘64 in better shape than this one.
Thing is, it never was at the race.
When the Mustang was chosen as the official 1964 Indy 500 pace car Ford built three specially prepped convertibles for the race. According to themustangsource.com, all were painted Wimbledon White, had 289cid V-8s, 4-speed manual transmissions and suspensions specifically modified for the track at Indianapolis. Benson Ford was the official pace car driver.
Only two of the three cars actually paced the race as the third experienced mechanical problems and sat on the side lines. The fate of those three cars is unknown (the sole survivor that had been shown around hasn’t been seen in years) but Ford brought an additional 35 convertibles to the race to shuttle dignitaries around and those cars were auctioned off to dealers and sold to the general public. The Mustang Source says that the whereabouts of only one of those cars is known today.
So why does this coupe have “pace car” plastered all over it if the real pace cars and all the race-day courtesy cars were convertibles?
To commemorate the Mustang’s honor of being designated the Indy 500 pace car, Ford produced 180 special edition cars for sale to the public. They were distributed to dealers based on their standings in a factory sales promotion. Those were all built in April of 1964 and an additional 10 were built in May.
All 190 of them were identical with white exteriors, white interiors with blue accents, 260cid V-8s, automatic transmissions and special stripes and decals. A truly authentic pace car replica will not have an outside rear view mirror as the cars were shipped without them. (Trivia buffs take note that the pace car replicas were all painted Pace Car White while the real pace car convertibles and the courtesy cars were Wimbledon White.)