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Intro - Ford Regional Special Edition Mustangs
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Ford and their regional district sales offices collaborated on a bunch of "regional special edition Mustangs". These promotional special editions were typically intended to either reward a sales district for outstanding sales, to stimulate sales in a sales district or to commemorate a special event.
Because they were only advertised locally within a sales district and sold in very limited numbers, little is known about many of these "special edition" cars. While some are fairly well known such as the 1968 California Special (since over 4,000 were produced and sold in a relatively large area), many regional specials are still being discovered and documented to this day (read more about many of these regional specials). While most regional special packages consisted mainly of only badges or decals and special paint colors applied to any standard Mustang, some specials did receive distinctive performance and/or appearance equipment. One such regional special was the 1970 Twister Special out of the Kansas City District.
Over the years, marketing methods changed and Ford’s interest in producing promotional "regional specials" through their district sales offices waned. However some long-time Mustang enthusiasts did not forget the excitement generated by these promotions and, early in model year 1985, some Kansas City area enthusiasts and the Kansas City Ford District Sales Office came up with an idea to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 1970 Twister Special by issuing a 1985 Twister II Mustang.
1970 Twister Special Mustangs
The creation of the 1970 Twister Special is an interesting story in and of itself. Late in 1969, the Kansas City District Sales Office approached Ford about producing some limited-edition high-performance Mustangs and Torinos for their region. These cars would be featured at their upcoming "Total Performance Day" on November 7, 1969 at the Kansas City International Raceway and were to be optioned with the 428SCJ engine (in the Mustangs) and 429SCJ engines (in the Torinos) and a bunch of other performance options. (Due to an unforeseen 428SCJ engine shortage, half of the Mustangs were ended up being equipped with a 351C engine instead although they all received the reinforced shock towers required for the 428 engine.)
Unbeknownst to the Kansas City district sales office, this request couldn’t have come at a better time for Ford. Earlier in the year, American Raceways, Inc. (ARI) had contracted with Ford to design and produce a group of high performance Mustang pace cars and official vehicles for their 5 racetracks across the US (Atlanta, Eastern, Texas, Riverside and Michigan International Speedways). After Ford had already designed and started building the cars, ARI declared bankruptcy and Ford was stuck with figuring out how to cut their losses on the time and money that had gone into designing and developing these cars.
To recoup some of the wasted expense from the abandoned ARI program, Ford decided to use a variation of that styling package for the Kansas City special promotional Mustangs. The side stripes were used but the ARI logos were replaced with Ford Script and Mach I logos and the large ARI racetrack logos on the rear quarter panels were replaced with a large "Twister Special logo". All Twister Special Mustangs were Mach I’s painted Grabber Orange with black decals and the Torinos were painted Vermillion with similar markings. In all, 96 Twister Special Mustangs and 90 Twister Special Torinos were produced and delivered to participate in "Total Performance Day". At the conclusion of this factory sponsored event, all of these Twister Specials were driven to the various dealerships in the district to be offered for sale to the public.
1985 Twister II Mustangs
Fast forward to a decade and a half later... the 1985 Mustang GT had just been introduced with a revised 210 hp engine in the 5-speed version (up 35 hp from 1984) and it was already being touted as one of the premier muscle cars of its day - a perfect platform to once again bring back the modern-day version of the Twister Special on its 15th anniversary. With the encouragement of some long-time Mustang enthusiasts, Ford and the Kansas City district sales office once again collaborated to produce the 1985 Twister II. A total of 90 Twister II Mustangs were produced in October 1984.
Unlike the original 1970 Twister Special Mustangs which had many performance options, few comfort options and were all Mach 1 fastbacks painted Grabber Orange, the 1985 Twister II's could be had in both the Mustang GT hatchback and convertible models, were available optioned with creature comforts such as air conditioning, power windows and locks, etc. and could be had in 3 or 4 different colors. While most Twister II's came with 5-speeds (and the 210 hp, 4v carbed version of the 5.0L), a handful were also produced with the automatic (AOD) transmission (which required the 180 hp, CFI / fuel injected 5.0L).
A Ford press release (from November 1984) for the Twister II says:
"On November 7, 1969, a Twister hit Kansas City Ford dealers' showroom -- and was a smashing success. Now, 15 years later, the Twister returns.
The original Twister was a high-performance version of Ford Mustang and Torino and was an immediate sell-out hit with performance car buffs. The 1985 Twister is a Mustang with a 210-horsepower V-8 engine, 5-speed manual transmission and special exterior trim.
"This one's going to sell out, too" says Joe Heisler. "It is an exclusive, limited Kansas City special edition car and Ford dealers already have taken orders for one-third of the scheduled production."
The 15th anniversary of the original Twister and the introduction of the '85 version will be celebrated at a luncheon next Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel at I-35 and Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, Kansas.
Several of the original Twisters will be on display, courtesy of a local Twisters owners group, along with the '85 models. Members of that group and area Ford dealers will be honored at the luncheon."
How to Identify a 1985 Twister II Mustang
The limited run 1985 Twister II Mustang's were basically standard 1985 Mustang GT's with a decal package applied by the Kansas City District Sales office (DSO 53). As such, they came with all the visual and performance goodies of the regular 1985 GT's such as 5.0L HO engines (210 hp, 4v carb/5-speed or 180 hp, CFI/automatic), Traction-Lok differentials, special handling package, quadra-shocks in the rear, dual exhaust, exterior GT markings, etc. (see the complete list of 1985 GT features). The '85 Twister II received no additional performance enhancements over the regular '85 Mustang GT. Twisters were available with any of the options available on regular GT's including sunroof, T-tops, optional axle, rear defrost, power windows, power locks, etc.
1985 Twister II's came with the following:
An authentic 1985 Twister II must have ALL of the following (in addition to the items described above):
Since Twister II's were a Kansas City Sales District promotional car, there was nothing on the window sticker indicating it as a Twister II. There are also no distinctive markings on the driver's door tag, buck tag or buildsheet that identify the car as a Twister II. We have heard that some dealers added their own additional window sticker to mark up the price of the Twister II over the standard GT price (per the original owner of a Twister II convertible, the dealer charged an extra $85 for his Twister II over a regular '85 GT).
1985 Twister II Mustang Production Numbers
Only 90 Twister II Mustangs were produced in October 1984. The table below breaks down the production numbers by bodystyle and transmission:
While other production details are not known at this time, it is known that of the 74 5-speed hatchbacks produced, 12 or 13 were equipped with the optional 3.08 gears. In addition, approximately 25 of the hatchbacks came with T-tops and approximately 10 were equipped with a sunroof. No Twister Special convertibles were equipped with the optional 3.08 gears.
Although the vast majority of 1985 Twister II Mustangs were produced in Jalapena (Bright Red) (approx. 74 made in this color), they were also produced in a few additional colors such as Oxford White (approx. 14 made in this color) and Medium Canyon Red and Silver Metallic (believed to be approx. 1 of each color). Of the 14 Oxford White T2's, 3 were made with T-Tops. Also, 11 of the Oxford White T2's came with the 4v/T5 engine/transmission combo and 3 with the CFI/AOD.
Now that it has been eighteen years since Twister II's were produced, it is hard to say how many of these cars still exist. At this point in time, we have five 1985 Twister II Mustangs in our registry - three 5-speed hatchbacks, two 5-speed convertibles - all Jalapena Red (Bright Red) 2R. We have also seen a number of Twister II's in person at various Mustang events around the midwest that are not in the registry and have heard about other Twister II's coming up for sale every so often. The Twister II's that we are aware of range in condition from rusted out hulks to pristine, like-new cars still in the possession of the original owner.
Since the limited edition 1985 Twister II Mustangs featured no additional performance equipment and offered only small cosmetic changes over a regular Mustang GT, the topic of Twister II values can be somewhat controversial. Obviously, a pristine, all-original, completely-documented Twister II will command a higher premium over a regular 1985 Mustang GT than a Twister II in very poor condition, but it's hard to say how much higher. Basically, these cars are only worth however much a seller is willing to pay and how badly they want a car that is not your average, run-of-the-mill Mustang GT.
If YOU OWN a 1985 Twister II Mustang (or if you know of one someone else owns one, find one in the junkyard, run across one for sale, etc.), please be sure and enter it into our registry!!!! We are trying to get as many '85 Twister II's registered as possible to get a good idea of how many still exist. Thanks!!
Information Still Needed!
1985 Twister II Mustangs - We are still looking for ANY additional information on 1985 Twister II Mustangs that we can get our hands on including:
Other 1982-1993 Mustang regional specials - We are also looking for ANY additional information on any other 3rd generation Mustang regional specials that may be out there.
If you have ANYTHING that would help us out, please let us know!
1:18 Scale Diecast Twister II Model!!!
This article would not have been possible without the following contributions:
Robert Greb (1985 Twister photos/ info)
AND any other 1985 Twister II owners that have contacted us or registered their cars!!
THANK YOU!! This article would have been impossible without your help.
1970 and 1985 Twister Mustangs - Click for a bigger version
1970 Twister Special Mustangs - Click for a bigger version
1970 ARI Mustang info - Click for a bigger version
1985 Twister II Mustangs - Click for a bigger version
1985 Twister II 5.0L engine (5-speed) - Click for a bigger version
1985 Twister II Decals (various views) - Click for a bigger version
1985 Twister II Dash Plate - Click for a bigger version
Other 1985 Twister II Memorabilia - Click for a bigger version