Anyone out there remember when there were luxury versions of pony cars? Yes, pony cars. Please don’t call them muscle cars. The term, ‘muscle car’ has been overused to the point of irrelevancy. No, a 460-powered ’72 Thunderbird is NOT a muscle car, and neither is a 1975 Country Squire. Neither is a Maverick or V8-powered Chevy Monza. Yes, I have heard a Maverick-A MAVERICK, for Pete’s sake!-been referred to as a muscle car. Nope. No. Wrong wrong wrong! Now where was I?
Ah yes, luxury pony cars. A rare breed even when new, there are far fewer found in the wild these days, due to metallic avocado green Barracuda Gran Coupes, root beer brown Camaro LTs and other such motor vehicles being repainted red, with made-in-China ‘SS’ or ‘Hemi’ emblems liberally tacked on of course, and don’t forget the 1992-vintage American Racing five-spoke wheels. And yet, some non-frigged-with examples have survived into the age of lattes, iPhones and crossovers. Take this ’79 Ghia, spotted back in 2013 in front of the local pizza place.
1979 was a big year for the Mustang. While about 93.5% of Mustang fans would love to forget the ’79’s immediate predecessor, the Mustang II, the fact is, despite much Mustang II hate in the blogosphere, the II saved the Mustang’s bacon. It was a sales smash, and its success led to the Fox-body 1979 model, making much of the 1978 compact Fairmont’s underpinnings in the bargain. While other pony cars like the Javelin and Barracuda died, and the Cougar turned into a luxo-midsized along the likes of the Monte Carlo and Grand Prix, the Mustang survived the Seventies-and sold.
The 1979 model was about as all-new as a 1970s U.S. car got. Of course, no convertible-yet-but two-door notchback and three-door hatchback models were available in a variety of flavors, including base-model secretary special, Cobra fastback, and luxury Ghia. A four was standard, with Turbo-4, V6 and V8 power available if you wanted it.
In addition, there was still a heaping helping of options, colors and appearance packages to make sure your Mustang wasn’t the same as everyone else’s. That was still possible in 1979, before gray gray silvermist and beige beigemist and fleet white became the popular color choices. But I digress.
For the few, the proud, who chose a luxo-sport Mustang Ghia, you had your choice of standard vinyl or optional velour or (and no doubt rare) leather seats. Other refinements included special door panels, thicker carpeting, color-keyed seat belts, more sound insulation, Ghia emblems and other assorted gingerbread. As this was the luxury model, there were no performance upgrades over the plain-Jane Mustang coupe, but you could order them a la carte.
Turbine wheel covers were standard, but this one has the optional and 1970s Detroit de rigueur wire wheel covers. Also note the quarter window louvers, which appeared on notchback Mustangs into the mid-1980s and pretty clearly aped the Mercedes-Benz 450SLC.
Finding early Fox Mustangs here in the Midwest isn’t easy these days, especially in non-rodded or otherwise customized condition, but this one has beaten not only the odds of mere survival, but also in not being painted resale red or having a V8 dropped in. It even still has its original “2.8” engine callouts on the front fenders, denoting the optional V6.
I especially liked the metallic blue paint and top, and matching interior with white seats and blue trim. Looks like this one has the standard vinyl trim. Color was still easily attained in 1979. This one also has the SelectShift automatic transmission, which was required when ordering the V6.
Anyway, as is widely known, the Fox Mustang went on to a long and healthy career, adding a topless variant in 1982, and through several facelifts, remained in this basic form way, way wayyyy to 1993. And while even your standard 2017 Mustang has tons more features than this luxury version from the late ’70s, back then, this was the way for Mustangers to get their Brougham on!