Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
Powered by a Hi-Po 289-ci V8 and 4-speed manual transmission, this K-code Mustang recently completed a rotisserie restoration. The exterior features factory-correct Caspian Blue paint with white stripes. It’s equipped with a Ford nine-inch rear axle, Special Handling Package, 8,000-rpm tachometer and vinyl bucket seats.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1965 Ford Mustang Fastback
Years Produced:1965–66
Number Produced:7,273 (1965 K-code)
Original List Price:$2,861
SCM Valuation:$55,500
Tune Up Cost:$250
Chassis Number Location:Tag in door jamb, driver’s fender apron
Engine Number Location:Above starter
Club Info:Mustang Club of America
Alternatives:1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS 350, 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS 327 L79, 1964 Pontiac GTO
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 420, sold for $71,500, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach, FL, auction on April 13, 2018. It was offered with no reserve.

Lately I have been getting the feeling that the Ford Mustang just doesn’t quite have the same clout in the collector-car world that it used to. That sounds shocking and maybe it’s just my perception, but it feels like the model comes up in fewer conversations than it used to. Maybe the car is just not the yardstick to measure others against anymore.

Maybe I’m alone in this. Maybe it’s because so many people these days are benchmarking old muscle against today’s insane horsepower numbers that start with a 7. Just look at the high-zoot K-code Mustang of 1965 — the 271 horsepower that Ford bragged about in 1966 is matched today in a pedestrian Kia.

Hopefully, gearheads everywhere continue to realize that this is not the point when talking about classic cars, and historically, gearheads love to talk about Mustangs. The model name needs no introduction, as Ford managed to crank out more than a million of these in the first couple years of production. This feat not only put the muscle car on the map, but also knocked the industry on its duff. As GM and Chrysler fought to catch their breath, the pony-car muscle wars began.

The K-code

If you were in the market for a new Mustang back in 1965, you had a lot of ways to make one unique. The high-dollar options chosen then bring in the high dollars today. The 271-horsepower K-code Hi-Po 289 is a prime example. It lightened wallets to the tune of over $440, but it gave you the Special Handling Package, which included the dual-stripe Redline tires, which were an upcharge on any other engine combo. For the number nerds out there, the K-code option alone accounted for a bump of over 15% beyond the $2,589 base price, which is why so few were sold. In fact, fewer than 1% of Mustangs produced from 1965 through 1967 came with the K-code 289. Their performance and rarity is why Mustang enthusiasts are still pining for these cars.

The K-code 289 was a stout unit, which amounted to minor revisions of the internals over the D-code 289. Really, this meant that most components were handpicked and/or beefed up to withstand the 6,000 rpm that Ford envisioned. The downside to this is that Hi-Po K-codes can be re-created with some minor detailing of a motor’s exterior. Engine blocks were not coded or marked any differently than other 289 castings besides assembly-line crayons. A keen eye can spot the minor differences once disassembled, but looking at the outside gives no guarantee of what is on the inside. The message here is caveat emptor. Make sure you understand the history of any K-code you are looking to buy. A Marti Report comes in handy for determining what any particular VIN had at time of production, but certainly not what is in the car now.

About that roofline…

Other major purchase choices in 1965 reflect a greater discrepancy in price today. In April of this year, a nearly identical K-code 1965 Mustang also sold at Barrett-Jackson — Lot 420.1. Both our subject and this other car were rotisserie restored to a high standard in the factory-correct, and attractive, Caspian Blue with black interior. There were only two major differences between our subject and this other car: Ours was a fastback, while the other was a coupe. And the fastback carried about 20,000 more miles, clocking in at just over 90,000. Can you guess which one sold for more?

Even with more miles, this fastback brought $71,500 while the coupe brought $55,000. That result isn’t exactly surprising, but it’s a good measure of the difference in value between the two body styles. In the end, the collecting populace just finds the fastback to be more attractive. It could have to do with Mr. Shelby taking fastbacks racing and winning. Maybe we sit and make fake engine noises (either out loud or in our head) while we pretend we are Mr. McQueen sliding through the streets of San Francisco. Maybe it’s just because “fast” is in the name fastback. Whatever you dig, these reasons alone should be the fuel that keeps the Mustang conversation hitting on all cylinders in the future.

Standing tall

Overall, the only real flaw I see here is the high spring height. Judging from the photos, both cars were likely from same consignor, done by the same restoration house, and both cars seem to sit an inch too high. Regardless, these were most likely #2 cars that had more than these prices spent on restoring them. For that reason, you can consider them purchased well even if they feel a bit expensive. I don’t think they were, considering the K-code and the level of restoration done, even if the details won’t achieve 100 points at a judging concours. Another value add is mileage. You could actually drive either car sparingly and not kill its value as long as you don’t kill its restoration.

At the end of the day, this car brought a fair market price. While the price was big, it did not exceed the retail cost of replication — but it did reinforce a certain market clout for the K-code fastback. At that, I’ll call it well bought and sold at a justified premium to the coupe, and it’s a good reminder that the yardstick — at least for K-code cars — is intact.

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)

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