A 710 horsepower Mustang that pays tribute to its legendary flying namesake

Ford’s Mustang is one of the most famous nameplates in the entire automotive industry and this the exact same thing that an aeronautics fan would say referring to the perennial favorite fighter plane from the days of the Second World War, the North American P-51 Mustang. Now, there’s a road-going Mustang that pays tribute to the one in the sky. It’s a Roush-tuned GT with almost as much power as a Shelby GT500 and a paint scheme that reminds everyone of the legendary ’Old Crow’ P-51D Mustang that Colonel Clarence ’Bud’ Anderson flew in combat during the War.

Jack Roush’s shop has been turning out wickedly fast Ford cars for decades but this particular one-off build is one that’s close to the founder’s heart. As past owner of no less than two P-51s that he turned into replicas of Colonel Anderson’s ’Old Crow’ fighter plane that he flew for over six continuous hours on D-Day, Roush was happy to take on this project. The Mustang will be up for grabs at the upcoming EAA AirVenture charity auction that’ll take place on July 25th in Oshkosh. While this isn’t the first airplane-themed Mustang ever made, it’s one that was also built to mark the 75-year commemoration of D-Day.

This unique fighter for the road packs half the power of the P-51D Mustang

2019 Ford Mustang "Old Crow" by Roush
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Annually, the Experimental Aircraft Association organizes the Airventure Charity Auction during The Gathering in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to raise money for its ongoing youth aviation education programs. Ford has been one of the major backers of this event and has built over the years no less than 11 one-off Mustangs, in collaboration with some of the leading Ford tuners in the business, that were all auctioned off. This year, Ford enlisted the help of Jack Roush and his men for a build that would honor the memory of D-Day, the North American P-51 Mustang, and one of its most skilled and famous pilots, triple ace Colonel Clarence ’Bud’ Anderson.

The result of this collaboration is a stunning-looking Mustang that channels the spirit of Colonel Anderson's WW2 fighter plane, the 'Old Crow'.

"Heroes like Col. Bud Anderson have become true living legends in the 75 years since the Allied invasion of Normandy," said Craig Metros, Ford Director of Design, in a press release. "Ford is proud to team up with Roush Performance to honor Col. Anderson and all of the brave servicemen and servicewomen who risked their lives during World War II, all while raising funds for the Experimental Aircraft Association, which helps make flying more accessible to America’s youth," he added. The Mustang is adorned with an accurate recreation of the livery of ’Old Crow’ right down to the red-and-yellow checkered pattern around the nose and the black/white stripes across the rocker panels.

2019 Ford Mustang "Old Crow" by Roush
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The Mustang is painted in silver and sports a one-off grille with five horizontal bars and five vertical ones and the P-51 badge right off-center.

Below the main inlet, there’s a Ford Performance splitter with an extended lip and triangular outboard vents. The indicators positioned above these vents sport yellow glass to match the color of the nosecone. The hood (that features custom heat extractors) is mostly painted in army green and the name ’Old Crow’ is written on the hood’s sides in the same font as on the plane. The Eighth Air Force logo is placed across the doors in gray while the tail end is painted in red, as well as the exterior rear-view mirrors. A GT4-esque rear wing borrowed straight from the Mustang Shelby GT500 keeps the tail in check and the blue rainbow-tinted exhaust tips emulate the appearance of the exhaust pipes of the P-51 Mustang.

Roush also attended to the cabin of this Mustang GT that’s expected to sell for a lot more than the $39,355 MSRP of a standard 2019 Mustang GT Premium Fastback. The dashboard’s center panel, as well as the interior door panels are covered in military green leather and, on the door panels, it’s written for everyone to see that this is indeed the ’Old Crow Tribute, EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, 2019", in case the owner forgets what he’s riding in. The bucket seats are also special as they’ve been upholstered in old-school-looking brown leather with the Air Force logo sewn on the backrest. The seats feature six-point Sparco harnesses and the back seat is gone. "P-51" is written on the passenger side of the dashboard and the interior door handles as well as the ball of the shifter are painted in red, reminiscent of the fuel shut off and mixture control knobs in the P-51.

2019 Ford Mustang "Old Crow" by Roush
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The ’Old Crow’ Mustang is powered by a supercharged version of the Mustang GT’s standard 5.0-liter Coyote V-8. If, in standard trim, the engine puts out 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, with Roush’s very own TVS R2650 supercharger in place power goes all the way up to 710 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of twist. By comparison, a 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500’s 5.2-liter supercharged V-8 cranks out 760 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque. The ’Old Crow’ is, then, as powerful as the 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo but you probably can’t spec the Tributo with a P-51 Mustang-inspired color scheme.

Roush also fitted to the car a cold air intake and X pipe, as well as a custom active exhaust system from Ford Performance while damping is handled by Ford's MagnaRide.

The gunmetal gray rims are 20-inch in diameter and wrapped in Continental ExtremeContact tires.

2019 Ford Mustang "Old Crow" by Roush
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As mentioned, this isn’t the first Mustang that will cross the block during The Gathering, an event that attracts more than 600,000 aviation enthusiasts to Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, every year. Ford’s been supporting the event for over two decades and, last year, it presented a widebodied ’Stang named the ’Eagle Squadron Mustang.’ Born out of the collaboration between champion drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Ford, the ’Eagle Squadron’ car pays tribute to the three Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons that comprised of American volunteer pilots that flew Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires in the war prior to the United States’ entry in the worldwide conflagration.

Ford's Latest Eagle Squadron One-Off Will Come With Vaughn Gittin Jr's Input
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Featuring a Ford Performance supercharger and an RTR widebody, the 'Eagle Squadron' Mustang develops 700 horsepower and could be seen flexing its muscles during the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed with Gittin Jr. himself at the wheel.

The car ultimately sold for a whopping $420,000. In all, the Mustangs that have been sold at auction during the annual AirVenture charitable auction have raised in excess of $3.5 million.

This F-35-inspired Mustang sold for $200,000 while the 2016 ’Ole Yeller’ Mustang, a GT350 model that was painted in yellow just like Bob Hoover’s legendary P-51 Mustang, sold for $295,000. The one-off Mustang that proved the most popular among bidders was the 2008 Mustang AV8R that went for a $500,000 bid.

What’s the history of ’Old Crow’?

2019 Ford Mustang "Old Crow" by Roush
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The Mustang 'Old Crow' will sell for a lot of money later this month not only because it's a one-off 710 horsepower beast with a multitude of go-fast bits added to it and a flashy paint job, but also because it's got a good story behind it, the story of the flying 'Old Crow' and its heroic handler.

Born on January 13th, 1922, Clarence Emil ’Bud’ Anderson is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot who’s flown 116 missions in his P-51D Mustang that he nicknamed ’Old Crow’ after a low-price Kentucky-made straight bourbon whiskey of the same name. He flew the Mustang while part of the 363rd Fighter Squadron of the 357th Fighter Group - known as the ’Yoxford Boys’, 8th Air Force, based at RAF Leiston in Leiston Field, United Kingdom. According to Anderson’s own website, he was part of an elite group of pilots as "the 357th Fighter Group was credited with shooting down 609 1/2 enemy aircraft in only 15 months, a pace no other fighter group equaled" and, also the group produced no less than 42 Aces, pilots that have shot down at least five enemy aircraft in combat. Anderson proved himself as the leading ace of the 363rd Fighter Squadron with 16 and 1/4 confirmed aerial victories amassed over two tours of combat against the Luftwaffe in Europe in 1944.

2019 Ford Mustang "Old Crow" by Roush
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For his prowess, Anderson was promoted to the rank of Major despite being just 22 years old at the time. He later retired, in 1972, as a full Colonel and has been awarded a plethora of distinctions and awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Legion of Honour, and the Croix de Guerre among many others. He also served in the Vietnam War (he was at the command of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing) and the Korean War and he also applied his knowledge and experience as the Chief of Fighter Operations and later Deputy Director of Flight Test while also finding time to fill in two tours at the Pentagon.

In 2008, Anderson was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and in 2013, he was inducted into the San Diego Air and Space Museum's International Air and Space Hall of Fame.

Two years later, in 2015, Bud was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, with all the American Fighter Aces. In 2017, Bud was also inducted into the EAA Warbirds of America Hall of Fame and awarded the Air Force Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

2019 Ford Mustang "Old Crow" by Roush
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He is a personal friend of Jack Roush, the founder of Roush Enterprise and a life-long aviation fan, who honored Anderson in 1994 by presenting him with an authentic P-51 Mustang aircraft with the same badging and paint scheme as the “Old Crow” Mustang plane. Roush currently owns a P-51B adorned in the ’Old Crow’ livery while the P-51D he once owned that featured the same colors by Jim Hagedorn. Roush’s P-51B was even fitted with dummy bombs to replicate the look of the plane as operated by Anderson back in the day.

The Ford Mustang, a car forever intertwined with the world of flying

1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1
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America’s Pony Car that was one of the catalyzers of (what would become) the muscle car craze of the late ’60s and very early ’70s (before the OPEC oil crisis hit and the malaise era effectively began) has been wearing the logo of the galloping thoroughbred horse since day one, but you’ll have to look up to find clues on the origins of the Mustang name.

Unveiled at the annual World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York, on April 17th, 1964 by an enthusiastic Lee Iaccoca, the Mustang has become a legend among legends in the automotive world but Henry Ford II, Iaccoca, and the rest of the men behind this project didn't think of the free-roaming breed of horses when brainstorming for the name of this new personal compact coupe.

While the whole story on how the Mustang was given this name is convoluted and you’ll find many versions if you browse thoroughly on the internet, a good number of people agree that the designer of the first Mustang prototype, known as the Mustang I, John Najjar, had a passion for WWII-era fighter planes and was enamored with the North American P-51 Mustang, one of the most effective planes during WWII. He is said to have pitched the Mustang as a car that embodied the all-American qualities of the P-51 Mustang and would also celebrate the plane itself as an outstanding result of purely American engineering and shrewdness.

2019 Ford Mustang "Old Crow" by Roush
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According to Bob Fria’s ’Mustang Genesis’ book, Najjar’s proposal didn’t go down well with the suits at the sharp end of FoMoCo. so he rebounded and suggested that the name could rather link the car (in the buyer’s mind) with the Mustang breed of horses that can be seen in the Western United States as a statement of freedom and individuality. Even then the Fairlane Committee that was the working group behind the Mustang, as well as the suits in the top offices in Dearborn, didn’t just embrace the name on the spot. Other names, such as Allegro, Aventura, Cougar, and Torino were proposed and some actually did make it into production slapped to other Ford/Mercury products.

According to CJ Pony Parts, Frank Thomas, some account executive that was part of the committee, later stated that the Mustang name won over all the others because "it had the excitement of wide-open spaces and was American as all hell." However, as with every legend, there are others that claim it didn’t happen like this at all. Some suggest it was Iaccoca who came up with the names as naming cars after animals was popular back in the early ’60s while some argue that it was Robert J. Eggert, a Market Research Manager with Ford, who first popped up with the name after being gifted a book titled “The Mustangs” by J. Frank Dobie.

2019 Ford Mustang "Old Crow" by Roush
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While we may never know which story is the correct one - or the one closer to the truth - we know that the P-51 Mustang was one of the key inspirations in the naming process of the Ford Mustang, most likely even more important than the horses that have become synonymous with the car since, well, the car’s logo isn’t a propeller fighter plane after all.

Further reading

11 Years and Counting: A History Of All The One-Off Fords That Have Been Auctioned Off By The EAA
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The 11-year History of the AirVenture Charitable One-Off Mustangs

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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