The 1965 – 1967 Ford Mustang with the K-Code engine was the first high performance Mustang, Delivering 271 horsepower 289 cubic inch K-Code Hi-Po high performance package. Do the the very low amount of buyers opting for this engine from the dealer order form, this makes it one of the rarer and most sought after Mustangs to collectors of this rare classic pony.
In the middle of 1964, Ford introduced the world to the small pony car. A success from the start, selling 600,000 vehicles in the first year of production. Far selling the mere 100,000 cars Ford expected to build in the debut year. Buyers could choose engines ranging from a 2.8-liter 6 cylinder all the way up to a 260 cubic inch V8.
The K-Code engine was initially available to buyers under the Fairlane brand in the early 60's. It made 271 horsepower and 312 lb-ft of torquescooted these cars down the track from 0-60 in just under 9 seconds. Realizing the K-Code engines major potential, Ford made it available in the Mustang for the 1965 model year.
Mustangs equipped with the K-Code engine came in coupe, fastback, and convertible form. They are easily identifiable by the “High Performance 289” badging located on the front fender. Other significant enhancements include performance-minded drivetrain components such as the clutch, driveshaft, and differential. In order to allow for dual exhausts, special reinforcements were made under the rear seat and in the rear frame rails brake lines were also re-positioned to allow dual exhausts to be installed.
Buyers who wanted more style to their Mustangs could choose the optional GT Equipment Package. This package included foglamps, front disc brakes, racing stripes, and dual exhaust trumpets. Those who purchased the GT Equipment Package could get the K-Code option for $276 and those that picked a non-GT could pick up the option by plopping down an additional $328. The K-Code definitely was the most expensive option on the Mustang at the time. Those wanting to get a little track time could spring a little extra for the Special Handling Package. Stiffer springs, shocks, and a front stabilizer bar rounded out the toys that came with this package.
Ford fully understood that performance was the main reasos most buyers purchased K-Code Mustangs. With that in mind, Ford did not equip these cars with amenities such as power steering or air conditioning. Also, the only transmission initially available was a 4-speed manual. The automatic trans was not offered until the 1966 model year.
By opting for the K-Code option on the order form, the new owners got: high performance connecting rods, pistons, lifters, cylinder heads, and an Autolite carburetor. Chrome valve covers and an air cleaner with “289 High Performance” lettering let the onlooker know that the K-Code engine was hiding under the hood. All K-Code cars also came with a larger 9-inch rear axle ring instead of the usual 8-inch installed on other Mustangs.
Ford knew that most buyers of this special Mustang bought them with one thing in mind…racing. For that reason, instead of the Mustang’s usual 12-month or 12,000 mile warranty, K-Code Mustangs only received a 4 month, 4,000 mile warranty. When it came to track time or racing in general, the K-Code Mustang was not timid on the strip. Sprints from 0-60 were recorded at around 6 seconds.
Quarter mile runs were achieved in the mid 14-second range. The only other suitable pony car to compare the K-Code Mustang to was the Plymouth Baracuda Formula S. The 235 horsepower Formula S equipped with a 4-speed manual was a second slower from 0-60 and nearly 2 seconds slower in the quarter.
1966 would be the end for the K-Code engine Mustangs. In that short time frame of only three years of availability, only around 1% of buyers opted for this high performance powerhouse. Unfortunately, only a limited number of these engines were produced between 1963 to 1967, and there were even fewer K-code Mustangs (only about 13,214 were made). If you own one, you own a valued piece of Mustang history and have a prized classic car commodity on your hands. If you want one, join the club.
Today, pristine examples of this rare pony car can be found selling around the $60,000 mark. That is, if you can find one.