Car collectors base desirability on many factors, but probably at the top of the list are rarity and high performance. And that’s why the 1969 Ford Mustang E is a conundrum. It is one of the rarest production Mustangs ever made, at 96, and also the most feeble that year. It was only available with the “Thriftpower” 250 ci straight-six stomach pump. Yet, it was a special edition that usually moves cars up collectors’ lists. So, what’s the story behind this rare, undesirable classic Mustang?
What’s wrong with a 1969 Mustang?
First, many consider the 1969 Mustang to be the pinnacle of Mustang design. Especially the Sports Roof fastback. And you could only order the “E” as a Sports Roof. But there were also a lot of other Mustangs choices you couldn’t get with the E. Like air conditioning. But you did get a 2.33:1 rear end.
The reason for the small engine, no air, and tall gear should be obvious. These Mustangs were to be the ultimate in E-conomy. Air conditioning saps power, and a 2.33:1 gear ratio affords less torque, also preserving fuel consumption. But you’ll definitely not be winning any drag races with it.
Why did Ford make the E?
Ford had a reason for making the E, and that was to enter the annual Mobilgas Economy Run. Winners used it as a marketing tool, though few would want to drive cars configured strictly for fuel economy, as was the case with the E. Mobil required a run of at least 50 cars to qualify, thus the low production numbers. Even Ford knew the actual cars equipped like this were a dead end.
Also, a dead end was the Mobilgas Economy Runs. Mobile canceled it in 1969 after having been around since 1936. Ford didn’t know that until after production of the E had begun. So the 96 Mustang E models got eeked out to dealerships hoping to find just enough economy-minded buyers that loved the new 1969 looks.
What other special 1969 Mustangs were there?
Anecdotally, we would suspect that most if not all of these stones saw V8 engine swaps or even being turned into race cars at some point. After all, it’s a 1969 Mustang fastback. That means intact, original Mustang Es are extremely rare. But other than those who see it as a quirky car with an interesting backstory, collectors want more. And in 1969, the amount of highly desirable Mustangs went way up.
In that first year of the new body styles, Ford introduced the Mustang Mach I, Boss 302, and Boss 429. That’s a bunch of collectibility. And that was the next-to-last year of the Shelby Mustang, which came in either a Sports Roof or a convertible. So there’s some more highly-collectible Mustang joy.
1969 Mustang but-
So all of this combined to snuff out most interest in seeking out and restoring a Mustang E. With its purpose killed by Mobil, and these other factors, it’s a “1969 Mustang but-.” A 1969 Mustang but stripped and without power.
Would we turn one down? Of course not, it’s a 1969 Sports Roof. Would we swap a V8, even today? Absolutely. And we’d change the rear end and maybe even add air conditioning.