The First California Special

Sharon Leann Wyatt’s autobiography


Yes, I got myself a little mustang. Work was becoming somewhat regular, and things were looking up financially. I then considered that it would be far more convenient if I had my own car rather than depend on borrowing mother’s 61 Falcon, or if she was using the car, for her to take me on those early calls to the studio and then having to pick me up. I had always admired the Jaguar, but my brother who was in the automobile business, and had just gone to work with another agency as one of the managers. He was now at Coberly Ford over in the City, and told me that the Jaquar for its price had a lot of electrical problems. I also discovered that to get just what you wanted in a Jaguar it had to be ordered from England. So my brother, who we in the family was lovingly called Sonny at the time, but who now prefers Chuck, said “the new Mustangs are out why don’t you come down and have a look.” At the time they were still new, having just been out for less than a year, and were becoming quite popular. I could see why, just the over all look was sporty and quite attractive, but I didn’t like any of the colors the car came in.
Here my brother Chuck, came up with an innovative idea, which he would use again, “why not have the car painted in some other color.” I had always admired a particular Lincoln color called Rose Beige, and so Chuck had five mustangs ordered. Five, so that neither I, nor my brother’s dealership would be charged for the special color order. Soon five very unusual mustangs arrived at the dealership, and were an immediate hit, as the color was so different. Chuck called me down to pick the mustang I wanted. He had ordered five in the various styles available, automatics, and standard shift, six and eight cylinders, coupes, and convertibles. I loved the convertible, but with cats in the neighborhood, the ragtop would not last. The 289 automatic coupe was what I chose and I never regretted it. She was quick, had that Mustang roar, becoming my symbol, which I still have. So I drove off the lot in a unique “pink” mustang, as would four other new owners within two weeks.
The “pink” mustang would soon be working in televisions almost as much as I, more often than not earning enough for the car payments. The mustang especially was desired for those shows sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, like the FBI Story, but at the time the TV version of Payton Place loved the car. The show was filmed in color, and the color with the technology at the time, really filmed wonderfully, and was used frequently as the vehicle for one of the principles in the show.
This was fine, until apparently Ford in Detroit started to receive a great number of phone calls from dealers and potential customers wanting that color. The producer of the show one day, when I just happened to be on the set with the mustang, received an irate call from Detroit. One Lee Iococca was on the other end and was threatening to pull their sponsorship of “Peyton Place,” because of this mustang with the unauthorized color. This put the producer in an awkward position, and his questions to me regarding my car prompted me to ask for the phone. I do have a knack at time for surprisingly quick responses. I proceeded to tell the man on the other end of the phone that he just didn’t know what was going on out here in California. “This car was special, and one of the first new California Specials.” The man on the phone only response was, “Oh!” Not too surprising the next year the mustang was offered in a special package of new colors, and interior extras, as the “California Special.”

(Next month “Meeting Linda”)

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