Cars & Racing | 24 January 2017’64 Ford Mustang Indy 500 Pace Car Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Most of America had yet to see the groundbreaking new car Ford introduced in the spring of 1964 when the mighty Mustang made a big splash on the world’s largest motorsports stage. A white 1964-1/2 Mustang convertible pace car led the 33 fastest open wheel drivers in the country to the green flag for the start of that years Indianapolis 500. As with most pace cars of the day, the three cars that actually hit the track had some special modifications for the high-speed corners. From The Complete Book of Ford Mustang is a closer look at the pace cars as well as some additional info on the ’64-1/2 model that started it all. Benson Ford piloted the Mustang pace car around the track at Indianapolis during the start of the 48th running of the annual 500-mile spectacular on May 30, 1964. 1964 Indy 500 Pace Car Lee Iacocca’s mass-market marvel was barely six weeks old when it paced the field for the 48th running of the greatest spectacle in motor racing on May 30, 1964. Though Ford’s Fairlane was the original choice to lead the way at that year’s Indianapolis 500, the Mustang had appeared just in time to serve as a much more sensational flagship for the annual Brickyard extravaganza. Ford brought three specially prepared pony cars to Indy in 1964. Another 33 convertibles were required for the Festival Parade, plus one for use by the Festival Committee director and one more to carry the race queen around before the race. The only other Ford-prepared vehicles involved with the 1964 Indy 500 program were pace car replica coupes awarded as prizes in a company contest for the top 105 Ford salesmen. As many as 190 (perhaps more than 200) of these were built in April and early May. They featured the same lettering and racing stripes as their convertible counterparts but were painted Pace Car White instead of Wimbledon White. All were equipped identically: 260 two-barrel V-8, Cruise-O-Matic automatic, power steering, and white interior. Two body styles were available in 1964: a notchback coupe and a sexy convertible. Convertible production that first year (1964 to 1965) was 73,112. No pace car convertible replicas were released. But as many as 35 buyers did eventually own an “Indy Pace Car” Mustang droptop that year, after dealers got their hands on those hard-to-comeby Festival cars. These box-stock parade cars were variously equipped. Both four-speed and automatic-transmission versions were built, and interior colors numbered three: red, white, and blue. The actual pace cars were fitted with all the race-day extras. Two flag stanchions were added in back, and three grab handles—two beside the rear seat and one atop the windshield opposite the driver—were bolted in place to help keep pace-lap passengers in place. Fed by a 600-cfm Autolite four-barrel carburetor, the Hi-Po 289 produced 271 horsepower. Chrome dressup was standard, and that bright air cleaner also let this hot small-block breathe easier. Rather plain Falcon-based instrumentation was standard inside the 1964-1?2 Mustang. Some mystery concerns the pace cars’ mechanicals. Most reports claim they were fitted with hopped-up Hi-Po 289s. Some witnesses think the engines were actually experimental small-blocks tweaked with various hot components, including those used by the K-code V-8. In any case, these engines were balanced and blueprinted beyond typical Hi-Po specs, and their cylinder heads were ported and polished for better breathing. Extra attention also was paid to oiling to guarantee everything stayed together during that high-speed pace lap. A racing-style, wide-sump oil pan was added, as was an oversized radiator for ample cooling capability. The sleek 2+2 fastback joined the Mustang lineup in September 1964. More than 77,000 were sold that first year. Underneath, cut-down front coil springs and de-arched rear leaves were used to lower the cars’ center of gravity, while a superstiff anti-roll bar helped keep things on the level. Also assisting the cars in the slightly banked turns was a mismatched set of Koni shocks: 80/20s on the left, 50/50s on the right. Tires were 7.55×14 bias-ply Firestone Gold Lines. Front disc pads and rear shoes were beefed pieces. Heavier bracing was added from shock towers to cowl. The American Machine and Foundry Company (AMF) introduced its own little pony just in time for the 1964 Christmas season. Priced at $12.95, this Midget Mustang rolled on a 23-inch wheelbase and stood a scant 14 inches high. AMF produced Mustang pedal cars for kids up through 1972. The fates of the actual pace cars remain a mystery. Some stories claim the Mustang driven by Benson Ford on race day in May 1964 was given to that year’s winner, A. J. Foyt, and later wrecked. According to Indy officials, however, all three pace car convertibles were returned to Ford after the race. From there, the trio reportedly went to the Holman-Moody race shop in North Carolina. Holman-Moody then delivered one to Sebring, Florida, for pace car duty there; another perhaps went to Watkins Glen, New York, for the same job. It is believed the third may have been sent to California, possibly Riverside, to also serve as a pace car. Only one of the three, the Sebring car, has since resurfaced. Buy from an Online Retailer The entire history of America’s original pony car, in its full glory. Ford’s Mustang is America’s most iconic pony car. According to many, it is the only vehicle that really earned the title “pony car.” This lavishly illustrated work walks readers through Mustang’s 50-plus years of continuous production – a rich and varied history nearly unmatched in the automotive world. From the first six-cylindered Mustang of 1964-1/2 through fire-breathing, world-beating Boss and Shelby versions to today’s all-new Mustang, The Complete Book of Ford Mustang offers an in-depth look at the prototypes and experimental models, the anniversary and pace cars, and the specialty packages for street and competition driving that have made the Mustang an automotive legend for more than a half century. Officially licensed and created in cooperation with Ford and providing extensive details, specs, and photographic coverage, this book is the ultimate resource on America’s best-loved pony car. No muscle car enthusiast, motorsports fan, or car collector will want to miss this book! 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