This is the only “Twister Special” test vehicle Ford ever made, it was developed to test out and showcase the rare Twister Special option package for the 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 that was only available in the Kansas City sales district.
Just 96 examples of the Twister Special Mach 1 would be built, 48 had the R-code 428 Cobra Jet V8 and the other 48 had the four-barrel 351 Cleveland. All were finished in Grabber Orange paintwork with side stripes, and they had special “Twister” decals to help set them apart.
Fast Facts – The 1970 Mustang Mach 1 “Twister Special”
- The 1970 Mustang Mach 1 “Twister Special” was released as a special edition vehicle in the Kansas City sales district. 96 Twister Mustangs would be made, along with 90 Torino Cobra Twister Specials in vermillion (bright red), and two Ranchero Twister Specials also in vermillion.
- Due to the exceedingly low production numbers the Twister Special remains a largely known car outside Mustang enthusiast circles, and surviving examples tend to change hands for considerably more than a standard Mach 1.
- Two major variants of the Twister Special Mach 1 were made, the R-code 428 Cobra Jet V8 powered example and the other fitted with the four-barrel 351 Cleveland V8 – 48 of each were made.
- The car you see here is the original Ford test vehicle developed for the Twister Special series to showcase the color and graphics package, and to be used as a promotional vehicle and advertising vehicle in Kansas City.
The Origins Of The Twister Special
The Twister Special series of Kansas City-only Fords came about almost entirely by accident. As the story goes, the special series of March 1 Mustangs were originally conceived for American Raceways International (ARI), a company that was planning to build NASCAR circuits around the country and wanted special Mustangs to use as pace cars.
The original plan was to build 5 Mach 1 fastbacks and 5 Mustang convertibles, all with distinctive Grabber Orange paint schemes and black side stripes. They were all to be powered by the hefty 428 Super Cobra Jet V8 mated to a C6 automatic transmission.
An additional 100 Mustangs were going to be built in this specification and sold as ARI pace car replicas – however ARI went bankrupt, leaving Ford holding the ball. Ford was able to sell off the first 10 cars that had been intended for actual pace car duties, but orders had been placed for 100 additional vehicles.
Ford put the word out among their dealer network to see who might be amenable to accepting 100 special edition cars and the Kansas City sales district (DSO 53) took up the challenge. The cars were called the “Twister Special” after the frequent twisters or tornadoes seen in the region.
New Twister decals were added to the car and due to a shortage of 428 Super Cobra Jet V8s just half would get them, with the other half getting the 351 Cleveland V8 with a four-barrel carburetor. The cars proved so popular that Ford also released the Torino Cobra Twister Special and the Ranchero Twister Special, both in bright red. They sold 90 Torino Twisters but just two Rancheros.
Over the years many replica Twister Specials have been made, and some of the original cars have been lost to accidents or neglect, so authentic cars tend to attract a lot of attention from the American muscle car crowd when they do come up for sale.
The Ford Test Vehicle Twister Special Shown Here
As explained higher up, this was the one and only Twister Special test vehicle built by Ford. It was used largely for promotional and advertising purposes in Kansas City and its surrounds, and it likely played no small part in the success of the special edition car.
Ford fitted this car with one of the desirable 428 Super Cobra Jet V8s and a close ratio 4-speed manual transmission. It also has a Drag Pack with 3.91 Traction-Lok rear end, Magnum 500 wheels, Goodyear Polyglas tires, and it comes with an Elite Marti Report.
The car had an extensive concours restoration to like original specification and it retains its matching numbers drivetrain.
It’s now due to roll across the auction block with Mecum in January with no reserve. If you’d like to read more about it our register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Mecum
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