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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Matchbox and Greenlight 1968 and 2008 Ford Mustang GT/CS



Ever since the Mustang first came out in 1964 countless variations have ensued from Shelby versions to Boss, to special state versions like the Colorado-only Ski Country Special and this California-only GT California Special.



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What's so special about it?

The start of the California Special package relies in, what else, California from participating Ford dealers wanting a special Mustang package to sell specifically for the Southern California market.  Many ideas were passed around for this special Mustang, but none other than two 1968 Shelby GT500 coupe prototypes paved the way for the inspiration.  At a Ford Preview event for dealers, two Shelby GT500 coupes were shown to preview the new 1968 GT500; however the production versions only came in fastback or convertible bodystyles.  "Little Red" was a red GT500 coupe featuring a supercharged V8, while the "Green Hornet" featured fuel injection and an independent rear suspension.  None of those features shifted over into production, but the overall shape of the coupe inspired Lee Gray, Southern California District Sales Manager for Ford, to create the California Special.



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Starting with a 1968 GT Coupe, the California Special gains hood pins, side stripe with GT/CS, and the most noticeable change is the rear where fiberglass quarter panels, trunk, and taillight panels with 1965 Thunderbird taillights (non-sequential turn signals) replaced the stock panels to give it the Shelby look.  Also on the rear quarter panels is the "California Special" name.  The twin-dash interior with front bucket seats carry over unchanged from the 1968 GT, including the T-handle shifter for the four-speed manual.  Engines also carried over from the regular Mustang line, including the rare 390 and 428 Cobra Jet V8's.  Usual GT/CS will come with 289 CID V8 and four speed manual or C-4 automatic.  The production run was only for the first-half of 1968 with 4118 made, 251 units were rebadge as Ski Country Special's for Colorado.  Today these California Special's are highly-prized collector favorites.


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Amongst the crowd of classic Mustang reincarnations in the 2000's that started with the Bullitt package, the California Special was revived in 2007.  Based on a coupe or convertible GT, the CS was nothing more than a slightly-modified GT with hood scoop, ground effects, and GT/CS side stripe, and shared nothing with the Shelby GT500.  Still, looked like one sharp-looking GT!  Various colors were offered from 2007-2009 that was limited to select Mustang colors, while the interior gained two-tone seats.  The 4.6 V8 carried over, as does the 5-speed manual or automatic.  Sadly, the package reverted into ever invisibility with the next few versions based on the current-generation Mustang, looking nothing more than a spiced-up GT with a few key differences, a far cry from the original 1968.  It is also interesting to note that the modern California Special's are offered nationwide instead of strictly limited to one state as in the 1968.


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Matchbox vs. Greenlight

Having the Greenlight version already in possession, and not that impressed in the way the Matchbox version came out in 2011, I passed on several versions until I came across the 2014 version in the nice copper brown color.  The black stripe and California Special logos on the sides gladly carry-over from previous versions.  The front grille, headlights, and chrome bumper are nicely done, but the lower part below the bumper and the license plate look out-of-place and rather bulky.  The sides and rear taillights are nicely done.  The interior features detailed bucket seats and dash panel, and the base features all of the details underneath, and look great in the spinner Matchbox wheels.  Yet compared to the Greenlight, or the real car, the Matchbox version body looks bloated and lacks the fine details of the Greenlight.



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As for the Greenlight version, it looks almost perfect with the front-end that has the proper lower-bumper look and extra details over the Matchbox version.  Sides add a little more trim details, white roof on the factory-correct red color, and cool 5-spoke craiger wheels that are, sadly, a little off from the real version and the tires are too-wide.  The rear adds more detailing, smaller lower bumper and license plate area (with Vermont plate) and the dual exhaust are not afraid of showing itself off.  The interior adds more detail over the Matchbox version including detailed door panels, and the hood opens up to show off the 289 V8.  The base is metal and adds a few more details like the floor board recesses.  Despite the advantages, like the Matchbox version this Greenlight version also has some awkward angles from the higher ground clearance to the slightly small width.  Still, you can see exactly why I passed on several Matchbox version until now!

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Greenlight's new-age GT/CS

Just before Greenlight released the 1968 GT/CS, they had a hand in making the 2007-2009 GT/CS convertible, which was also used for the upcoming Shelby GT versions.  The white paint, scoops, and side stripes are nicely done, the mag wheels look awesome, rear end details are correct, and has a great stance, though it would be nice to see the lower ground effects added.  The interior features the stock GT interior done correctly and adds the proper white seat inserts.  The hood opens up to show off the 4.6 V8 with most details shown perfectly, while the base in gray shows off the stock GT platform.  Even though i'm not a big fan of white (I prefer the metallic red version), and a certain similar Shelby GT stole my passions, I still think the modern GT/CS by Greenlight is an awesome casting and a welcome upgrade from a stock GT.

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