In 1992, Baden Aniline and Soda Factory, better known as BASF was experimenting with a new form of ink to use for printing US Currency. The idea was to make the ink holographic so it was extremely hard to counterfeit and nearly impossible to copy digitally. They worked with a company named Flex Products, who designed and created pigments that refract light in the view able spectrum of the human eye. The pigment, called prism platelets, was designed to be a single layer of material. Depending on the background it was placed on, it would cause different effects. Special toners were added to the ink in order to cancel out undesired colors and prevent them from showing when light was refracted through the prism platelets. This brand of flake ended up being called "Chromaflair". Flex Products still makes similar flakes, with different color abilities under the Chromeflair name. Photo (far right) taken from US Patent filing for Flex Products prism platelets. You can see how the prism platelets float in Fig. 1B, and then lay down in Fig. 1C. In the final Fig. 1D, the platelets are then trapped between a base and a clear layer, suspending them above the surface they are applied to.
Ford provided BASF with two 1995 Mustang GT convertibles, which were painted with the first test variant of Mystic. Both cars were owned by BASF executives until one was sold to a private gentleman in Ohio who has had the car since then. These cars were much more purple and rootbeer colored than the Mystic we commonly know.
In the middle of 1995, Saleen was heavily promoting their S351 Mustang and had worked an agreement with BASF to use their Extreme Color palette on their cars. Saleen built a one of a kind S351 that ended up being painted by BASF with the very first version of Mystic with slightly less black toner than the Cobra version. This car was dubbed, "The Horse of a Different Color" and was 1995 Saleen S351R Speedster #95-010. It was debuted at at the 1995 SEMA and NACE Auto Shows and various other Saleen events through 1995 and 1996. The car was raffled off and the SEMA specific parts on the car were taken off to make it road legal.
In early 1996, Ford finally decided to commission the build of a limited group of SVT Cobra Coupe's with Mystic paint.
The factory assembly line in Dearborn was stopped while all
1999 of the Mystic Cobra bodies were all painted at once. This was to
reduce costs and wastes due to the high value of Mystic paint.
Mystic #1 had been painted previously and was on tour as Ford's
Press/Test car. It did not originally share the same formula Mystic
as the other 1999 cars. It has since been repainted Mystic due to age
and the bad condition it was found in.
Even though all 2000 of the Mystic Cobras were painted in
order, their VIN numbers were not sequential.
One 1996 Mystic Cobra was turned into Saleen S281 #96-0189
The painting process is a simple tri-coat process. The Cobras all started life as black coupe shells. Then the Mystic color coat was applied, then clear coat.
There is no actual color in the color coat of Mystic. The color you see is strictly created by the prism platelets within the coating. The reason you only see certain colors is because the paint was cut with a large amount of black toner, which cancelled out brighter coloring.
Stories we've all heard about government agents supervising repairs of Mystic Cobras during the late 90's and early 2000's are 100% true. There are multiple confirmations from painters, and owners of Mystics, that an official from either BASF, US Treasury, or the US Secret Service being in attendance. Those agents did supervise the painting process. When the process of painting the car was completed, those agents would help the painter clean up and all materials containing Mystic paint were placed inside a sealed container and shipped back to BASF.
The reason for this process is quite simple. They are preventing counterfeiting with money. At the time, Mystic paint in liquid form could be filtered and the prism platelets could be extracted to be used elsewhere. Once Mystic is dry and hard, the prism platelets can no longer be extracted.
With the changes in how money is made in several countries, the components used to make Mystic are no longer under anyone's oversight. Ford is the only entity that still uses internal processes to purchase and acquire Mystic. The same goes for all of the colors found in BASF's extreme color palette including the exclusive Saleen Speedlab colors such as Extreme Rainbow, which are available restriction free.
Ford again intended to build another Cobra with a variation of Mystic for the 2000 model year. This time it was going to be a yellow/gold color called "Mystic Gold".
The idea was to revive the rare / odd color combination after the fanfare of the 1996 Mystic Cobra. Ford intended to offer the Mystic Gold Cobra in both coupe and convertible form.
Unfortunately due to the problems Ford and SVT had with the 1999 Cobra and the restrictive intake and exhaust recalls they were under, Ford cancelled the year 2000 model run of SVT Cobras and with it, the Mystic Gold Cobra was never made.
Ford only made V6 and GT Mustangs in 2000 along with the 300 SVT Cobra R's all made in Red.
Once again, Ford decided to make a color changing Cobra in limited quantities. In 2004, Ford went with a different paint manufacturer this time around.
With the fame and fanfare of the SVT Terminator Cobra that came out in 2003, Ford built 515 coupes, and 495 convertibles with a paint called MystiChrome.
The paint closely resembled the 1996 Mystic paint, but was much brighter and more blue colored than the very dark Mystic.
Ford had leather pieces of the interior also dyed with the MystiChrome pigment. The center portions of the seats and the hand grips on the steering wheel were also MystiChrome and changed colors like the paint did.
Saleen also converted 3 of the 04 MystiChrome Cobras into very special cars. They made 2 coupes and 1 convertible.
Mystic #1 was a Ford Press car in 1996 that was never supposed to make it to public ownership. Ford used #1 as a tester for automotive journalists and industry leaders to drive and see in person with the new Mystic paint.
When #1 was supposed to finish its tour as a press car, it was to be destroyed and forgotten. However, it slipped through the fingers of Ford and made it out to be sold as a B-lot used demo car. It was purchased by an NFL football player and was given to his teenage son to use for college in Jacksonville, Florida. The car was wrecked on the passenger rear quarter and was sold.
The car was eventually fixed by a Vocational school auto shop teacher with his students in the classes he taught. Due to the difficulty obtaining Mystic and its cost, they painted the car black only.
Years later, the current owner found the car eBay and purchased it thinking he got a great deal on a parts car or a restoration build. When he got it home, he started taking parts off the car and he found Mystic paint under the door trim area. Once this was found, he called Ford Performance to verify the car's color and VIN. Ford told him that it wasn't possible that he had that car and asked to confirm the VIN and vehicle with pictures. It was confirmed that it was indeed the very first Mystic Cobra and it was supposed to have been destroyed in 1996.
The current owner then restored the car to a Mystic and fixed any mechanical issues the car had. #1 was part of the Inaugural display at the Mustang Owners Museum in Concord, North Carolina in 2018.
This is the car that is responsible for the original number of Mystic Cobras being 1,999 according to the Marti-Reports and other data. The only source that verified 2,000 cars were made was Ford Performance and SVT with the Mystic authenticity letters.
It is confirmed there are 2,000 cars, as the registry holds the VIN numbers and certificate copies for #1 and #2000.