Car Clock of the Week: 1974 Ford Mustang analog-digital

Fake wood, fake digital clock. The vinyl was real, though.

We return to the Car Clock of the Week series with a fine example of 1970s Detroit chronometer technology, plucked from a first-model-year Ford Mustang II found in a Denver wrecking yard. The “digital” clock with mechanical guts found its way into many vehicles during the 1970s and early 1980s, and we’ve seen such clocks from vehicles as diverse as a 1984 Oldsmobile and a 1981 Honda.

Green outside, green inside. If you guessed that it has green shag carpeting, you are correct.

You won’t see many Mustang IIs on the street these days, but enough unfinished projects linger in yards and driveways that I still see a steady trickle of these cars into self-service wrecking yards. The Mustang II was a Pinto-based economy car with sporty looks, and it hit dealerships just in time for the 1973 oil crisis; sales were brisk.

Because this is Denver, the clock was set to 4:20 when I found it. The junkyard cashier was impressed.

I didn’t think this clock would work (most mechanical clocks from Detroit cars fail at about age five years), but I hooked up my $6 car-clock tester and the seconds reel turned. For $5.74, I’ll take it!

Very similar to the Cartier clocks in Lincolns of the era.

The illuminated display on this timepiece looks identical to that of the “Cartier” clocks installed in some Lincolns during the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, I’m pretty sure the mechanical components in the lowly Mustang clock are the same as those used in the high-zoot Continental clock.

One weakness of a quick junkyard clock test is that it doesn’t catch all possible failure modes. Something goes wrong with this clock when it attempts to go turn the ten-minute reel. Oh well, it remains a worthy addition to my car-clock collection.

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