The most popular and iconic Ford Mustang models are either Fastbacks or coupes. However, on April 15th, 1964, two full days before the car went on sale, a 22YO school teacher bought the first Mustang, and it was a Skylight Blue convertible. But there’s never been a Mustang that combines the clean lines of a coupe with the open-top feeling of a convertible, except for this unique 2011 Mustang, fitted with a retractable hardtop for the 2010 SEMA Show.
If you’ve always wanted to own a 1-of-1 Mustang belonging to the S197 generation (2005-2014), it doesn’t get much better than this. I’ve been dying to see this bad boy go on sale ever since photographer Ted7 leaked the pictures a few weeks back. And with bidding already reaching $40,000 on Bring A Trailer, you could say interest has been high.
The 2011 Ford Mustang is special in many other ways, not just the folding hardtop, and was put together for the 2010 SEMA Show by Galpin Auto Sports. You might know them as GAS, the other workshop featured in MTV’s Pimp My Ride. But Frank Galpin began selling Fords to Californians way back in 1946, and they’ve basically got a museum of cool Blue Oval cars.
How to: Mercedes into Ford
We know this started life as a brand new 2011 Mustang GT Convertible, but it’s unknown exactly how it was turned into a hardtop. We did our own research and came to the conclusion that they must have used the folding mechanism from the R230 Mercedes SL-Class roadster.
The complex geometry and hydraulic controls would have been too complicated and costly to develop for a one-off Mustang. The windshield and front pillars are also from something like a 2005 SL 55 AMG, as is the roof. However, they did something to bring the rear pillars closer to the glass and obviously had to re-engineer the deck, making it look Mustang-like.
Even without the roof, this would still be one of the coolest, cleanest S197 Mustangs you can buy. The burnt orange paint hides a subtle ground effects kit, the kind of tuning you expected from GAS. It’s also got Ford Racing suspension, tinted lights, a Flowmaster exhaust system, and the coolest 20-inch wheels in the Halibrand style.
Even the cabin received some attention, with added features such as the Shaker 500 audio system, touchscreen navigation and decorative accents. The headliner is wrapped in suede while the black leather seats have contrasting orange stitching.
Mechanically, this is pretty stock, which means the early Coyote 5.0-liter V8 is pumping out 412 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. It’s no Shelby, but a retractable hardtop is going to be attention-grabbing enough at your next Cars & Coffee event. Just make sure you know a guy who can fix Mercedes roadster roof mechanisms because that can get expensive!
Why Ford never offered this roof option
As we’ve mentioned, Ford has been making the Mustang Convertible since 1964 and 1/2, and it actually considered going this fancy at least twice. The task of making a retractable hop for the 1966 Mustang was given to Ben J. Smith, the man responsible for the fancy mechanism of a 1959 Fairlane 500 Galaxie Skyliner. He designed a manual system using fiberglass panels, but Ford wanted it powered. They disagreed to the point where Smith had to leave the company, the whereabouts of his creation being lost to time.
From what we gather, the retractable hardtop was also considered during the early development of the S197 Mustang. However, it was dropped for reasons to do with reliability, cost and the way it made the car loo. Hardtops restrict the way the greenhouse of a car is designed, especially when they use only two panels like the Mercedes SL roadsters. They have a specific length, eat into headroom and require the trunk to be a specific shape and size. This is partly why Infiniti and BMW used three sections at the time.