Ford mustang fox body

Ford mustang fox body DEFAULT

From the June 2020 issue of Car and Driver.

The Fox-body Mustang, produced from 1979 to 1993, enjoyed a long and successful run and earned three 10Best trophies. Over the years, Ford offered a range of power options, but the lustiest models wore "5.0" regalia. Which, as the name implies, meant that when you popped the hood, you'd find a . . . 4.9-liter V-8. At least the cars' performance could back up the marketing embellishment, leading Ford back to pony-car credibility after the Mustang II debacle of the '70s. The Fox-body models, particularly the minimalist LX trims, aged well and still deliver an entertaining shove in the back. They were built by the millions, so despite their appeal, a plentiful supply keeps prices reasonable.


The 4.9–liter—or in cubic-inch parlance, the 302—really rounded into form in 1985, hitting 210 horsepower with a four-barrel carb. By 1987, the fuel-injected Windsor V-8 made 225 horses and 300 pound-feet of torque. But then Ford lowered those ratings to 205 and 280, respectively, in 1993, giving rise to conspiracy theories that the engine was either overrated in its 225-horse heyday or else sandbagged to provide some distance from the 235-hp Cobra. In any case, from 1987 on, performance was pretty consistent. We clocked a 1987 GT at 14.7 seconds in the quarter-mile; a 1993 Cobra ran a 14.3.


The LX notchback, one of the cheapest trims during the Fox-body's tenure, has become one of the most expensive. It is lighter and stiffer than the hatch and thus prized by speed freaks. (The notch­back 5.0 was also the basis for the police-issue SSP.) You can get a drivable car for under $5K, but it'll take closer to $10K if you want one that'll really complement the mint condition of your letter jacket. Between $10K and $20K, a car's trim or body style doesn't matter as much as condition and mileage. Low on funds? Look for the "four-headlight" cars from the early years. They're not as quick as later cars, but that's easily fixed.

Problem Areas

Any Rust Belt car deserves a close underbody inspection, especially at the base of the strut towers. The Fox-body platform wasn't known for stiffness, so if a car has been driven hard, the body may be deformed. The torque boxes (where the rear suspension links mount to the body) can bend or crack. Consider getting torque-box reinforcements and additional bracing to keep the car from wringing its body like a wet towel. But a Mustang 5.0—particularly one with the Borg­Warner T-5 manual—is a rugged machine as long as horsepower remains stock. Or at least within the realm of reason.

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Your handy 1979–93 Ford Mustang (Fox-body) buyer’s guide

Like the Falcon before it, the Ford Fairmont (and the Fox chassis underneath) was the right vehicle for its time. Hailed as the “Best selling new car ever introduced”, the Fairmont didn’t just lead to the third-generation “Fox-body” Mustang; it created something magical long after its template became obsolete. The long-running Fox-body offers a fantastic combination of performance and durability, which reached mythic proportions thanks to an open-sourced, fuel-injected aftermarket. Let’s dig into why the Fox is a modern day legend that continues to suit a variety of needs.


Taking advantage of the latest in computer-assisted technology, Ford designers under the leadership of Jack Telnack reimagined the original Mustang’s long-hood and short-deck proportions for a new generation. The look was revolutionary: both the two-door sedan (a.k.a. notchback or coupe) and three-door hatchback were reflections of Ford’s newfound commitment to aerodynamic efficiency (0.45 cd and 0.40 cd, respectively.) Gone was the Mustang II’s sculptural front fascia, and in its place was a wedgy, black egg crate grille and deeply recessed quad headlights. While based on the Fox Chassis, the Mustang’s cowl was taller than the Ford Fairmont, which provided an aggressive rake for the hood. The notchback sported a finned C-pillar inspired by the C107 Mercedes, while all models sported wraparound, jewel-like tail lamps and color-keyed, European-style wraparound plastic bumpers with integrated rub strips.

The Fox Mustang (and Capri sistership) sported an extensive powertrain portfolio: the Lima 2.3-liter four cylinder (88 hp), a turbocharged Lima 2.3-liter (132 hp), a 2.8-liter Cologne V-6 (109 hp), a 3.3-liter inline-six (85 hp) and the 5.0-liter Windsor V-8 (140 hp). The 5.0 and the turbocharged 2.3 were the engines of choice for performance enthusiasts, with a four-speed manual available on both. The 5.0’s manual gearbox had an overdrive, but all engine choices had an available three-speed automatic. The Fox-body’s lightweight, unitized chassis incorporated rack and pinion steering with a modern suspension (front MacPherson strut and a four-link, coil-sprung rear) in three different flavors. The first offering was intended for the baseline 13-inch tires, while the handling package was specific to the 14-inch radials, and included niceties like a rear sway bar. But the suspension uniquely engineered for Michelin’s revolutionary TRX radial tire was at the top: The TRX suspension included Michelin’s 190-65R 390 TRX tires on forged aluminum wheels, unique shocks, springs and stabilizer bars. While the automotive press praised this package, the unique tires ensured this was an evolutionary dead end a la Betamax video tapes.

1979 Ford Mustang coupe rear three-quarter

Borrowing heavily from the Fairmont, the Mustang’s dashboard, steering wheel (complete with stalk mounted horn), door handles, and HVAC controls were parts bin affairs. Ford left the Fairmont’s column shifter and incomplete gauge cluster out of the equation, and a full-length console with a digital clock and LED-backed “Graphic Warning Module” was optional. Other interior options include a four-way seat adjuster, rear window defogger, an overhead map light on a positionable arm, color keyed seat belts, power locks, low back bucket seats, cruise control, air conditioning, tilt steering, interval wipers, and a rear window wipe/wash feature for three-door hatchbacks. Stereo options were shockingly numerous, there was an AM radio, an AM radio with digital clock, AM/FM radio, four-channel AM/FM stereo, an AM/FM stereo with either an 8-track or cassette player in tow, and most could be upgraded with a 48-watt Premium Sound amplifier.

There were four trim levels: Base, Sport (notchback only), Ghia, and Cobra. The sport included black body trim, color keyed window louvers, a three-spoke steering wheel and unique wheels. The luxurious Ghia included badging of the famous “Ghia” design studio, color keyed quarter window louvers, dual side view mirrors, chrome rocker moldings, door panels with map pockets, a passenger side grab handle, thicker carpeting, and Mercedes-like headrests atop the option of leather or period appropriate interior seating fabrics. While a standalone option for notchbacks, Ghia models are more likely to get the available vinyl roof compared to cheaper models. The Cobra came with the 2.3-liter turbocharged engine as standard (optional V-8), black engine turned dashboard panels, color matched window louvers, blackout exterior trim, Cobra emblems and an optional, Trans-Am like Cobra hood graphic.

1979 Ford Mustang Pace Car

The most significant version might be the 1979 Indy Pace Car special edition. Sporting the TRX suspension and either the 5.0-liter or the turbocharged 2.3-liter engine, the Pace Car was differentiated by a rear spoiler, front air dam with fog lights, hood scoop (non-functional), pop-up sunroof and a unique black and pewter paint job with orange and black graphics. Recaro seats (a mid-cycle upgrade) were standard for the Pace Car, and 10,478 examples were made. Combine all versions and Ford sold 369,936 Mustangs, nearly double that of the outgoing Mustang II.


The biggest news for 1980 was the downsized 4.2-liter Windsor V-8, likely designed in preparation for another Energy Crisis that clearly never came. The motor was created by de-boring the 5.0-liter block from 4.00″ to 3.68″ and made an uninspiring 118 horsepower. The Cobra received the front end, hood, and rear spoiler from the 1979 Pace Car, while the Cobra decal moved inside the quarter windows. Recaro sport seats were optional across all models, and available in four colors.

1980 Orange Mustang front three-quarter

Lesser known changes for 1980 include a new, optional carriage roof for 2-door models that deleted the quarter window’s louvers and added a chrome A-pillar, giving a somewhat convincing impression of a convertible top. Halogen headlamps were standard, as was a maintenance free battery, and retractable cargo cover for hatchbacks. A revised center dome lamp with reading lights was standard on the Ghia, leather wrapping was now available on both the three- and four-spoke steering wheels, and non-stereo audio systems had optional dual rear speakers.

For 1981 a new removable glass T-roof option (hatchback only), and a four-speed manual, single rail overdrive (SROD) transmission was available on the turbocharged 2.3-liter. Sales figures slumped both years, with 271,322 units sold in 1980 and 182,552 in 1981.


While all models received revised door panels with new armrests with integral door pulls, what everyone truly cares about is the introduction of the 5.0-liter HO (High Output) engine, optional in the new Mustang GT. All manual transmission Mustangs now used the SROD gearbox, and the naturally aspirated 2.3, 3.3, and 4.2-liter engines were retained from before. The 5.0 included a camshaft intended for marine applications, revised exhaust valves, a double-row roller timing chain, aluminum intake manifold, larger 356-cfm carburetor (vs. the outgoing 310-cfm unit), higher fuel pressure (6.5 to 8.5 psi), dual-snorkel air cleaner, and a 2 1/2-inch cat-back exhaust with a twin outlet tip. The end result was 157 horsepower and an impressive 240 lb-ft of torque, with a much fatter powerband and tricks like an A/C cutoff switch at wide open throttle.

Ford Mustang GT Boss is Back Campaign

The only transmission for the new 5.0 was the SROD manual and this powertrain was most associated with the new GT trim level. The top line GT sported a body kit similar to the Cobra/Pace Car, a more performance oriented suspension, de-chromed exterior trim, and was more likely than other trim levels to possess the optional Recaro bucket seats, T-roof tops, and TRX suspension. By 1982 the lighter, more powerful Mustang GT was faster than the Camaro Z28, and Ford’s advertising wasn’t bashful about it, proclaiming “The Boss is Back” in advertising.

But the entire lineup for 1982 was shook up: L, GL, and GLX. The base model L was a two-door notchback only, with basics like manual brakes, 14-inch steel wheels and vinyl seating (cloth was optional). The mid-level GL can be ordered as a hatchback, and includes blackout trim, pin striping, full wheel covers, upgraded vinyl interior (optional cloth) and even color keyed carpeting on the door panels. The GLX replaced the Ghia, with features like dual remote sideview mirrors, nicer pin striping, rocker panel moldings, upgraded door panels with wood tone inserts, and optional leather seats.

Ford Chases Porsches for a living

This was the first year of the Special Service Package (SSP) Mustang, a creation owing its existence to the California Highway Patrol and their disappointment in their Camaro pursuit vehicles. Based on the Mustang L two-door Sedan, the steel wheel’d, 5.0 powered SSP Mustang were basically a production Mustang with upgrades for Police duty: 140-mph calibrated speedometer, single-key locking, relocated remote rear-decklid switch, and a radio delete. The SSP package was refined over time, but a full 406 SSP Mustangs were made in 1982, with a total of 130,418 Mustangs sold this year.


The Mustang convertible made a return to the lineup after a 10-year absence, possibly thanks to the relative success of 1200 drop-tops made in 1982 by Intermeccanica Custom Coach Builders. No matter, 1983 Mustang GLX and GT convertibles left the assembly line with reinforced cowl sides, A-pillars, floors, torque boxes, quarter panels, with extra bracing in the dashboard, rear wheelhouses, and an X-brace under the floorpan for greater strength. The droptop Mustangs are shipped to Cars & Concepts in Brighton, Michigan for final assembly. The rare Mustang GT Turbo was also introduced, using a fuel injected version of the 1981 Mustang’s turbocharged 2.3-liter motor and shared with the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe: A sign of better things to come next year.

1983 Ford Mustang convertible front three-quarter

All Mustangs received a minor face-lift with a softer front end with a less aggressive egg crate grille and Ford’s corporate Blue Oval logo in the center. New taillights had standalone amber turn signals, and a smoother design that extended to the license plate.  The optional sport bucket seats no longer had Recaro’s engineering prowess. The 5.0 had a Holley four-barrel carburetor with nearly double the volume (700 cfm) that netted 175 hp. Ford’s all-new, lightweight and compact “Essex” 3.8-liter V-6 (112 hp) replaced the old 3.3-liter inline six. The 5.0 had a Borg-Warner five-speed overdrive (T-5) manual transmission, but the SROD four-speed manual was available with a credit to your final bill.

Mustang Ls ditched the dog dish steel wheels for a set of sleek disc wheel covers, along with standard high back bucket seats, and the AM radio now had two speakers instead of just one. The GL received reclining low back bucket seats and two-door notchbacks even had trunk carpeting. Even with these upgrades and new offerings, only 120,873 Mustangs were sold in 1983.


The Mustang celebrated its 20th birthday with the re-introduction of the turbocharged 2.3 and a special “GT-350” edition. All GT-350s were white hatchbacks or convertibles with maroon “GT-350” tape stripes, and a Mustang running pony logo on the fenders. GT-350 interiors were red with sport bucket seats and two 20th anniversary dash panel badges. The GT-350 was limited to 5260 units, but this year also marked the creation of the first Saleen Mustang (a topic too big to cover in this guide) and the SVO Mustang. A unique Quadra-Shock axle setup (a poor man’s alternative to a torque arm) for the Mustang GT, GT Turbo, and SVO.  But there was plenty more to discuss about Ford’s new flagship SVO offering.

1984 Ford Mustang SVO

The SVO was first project of Ford “Special Vehicles Operations”, and considered the high-performance possibilities of a world where four-cylinder turbocharged engines could be our future. SVO’s received a unique front fascia with deeper air dam and wraparound turn signals, understated ground effects, a functional hood scoop for the intercooler, a bi-plane rear spoiler and pin striped taillights. Other upgrades include five-lug, 16-inch X 7-inch cast aluminum wheels, front control arms and spindles from the Fox-body Lincoln Continental, Koni shocks for each wheel and the aforementioned Quadra-shock axle, a 140-mph speedometer with no numerical markings above 85 mph, and four-wheel disc brakes from said Continental. The interior was graced with unique bucket seats, a left-foot rest, leather-wrapped steering wheel and horn pad, a toggle switch for engine timing intended for premium fuel usage, a Hurst shifter and premium sound stereo. The SVO’s engine was a step ahead of the GT Turbo thanks to an intercooler (under the off-center hood scoop) but sadly the $15,585 price tag was roughly $6000 more than a V-8 Mustang, so only 4508 were sold.

1984 Ford Mustang SVO Rear Spoiler

A new, corporate two-spoke steering wheel graced Mustang cabins equipped with cruise control, while all Mustangs now had the horn placed atop the steering wheel’s face. The Mustang L was available as a two-door or three-door body. Ford’s ubiquitous “LX” nameplate officially replaced both the GLX and GL models. Both the GT and GT Turbo had the once-optional sport bucket seats as standard. Central fuel injection graced the 3.8-liter V-6 (120 hp) and the 5.0 (165 hp) when equipped with Ford’s new four-speed automatic overdrive (AOD) transmission (stick shift 5.0s stuck with the Holley). These changes moved the sales needle, with 141,480 units sold for a 17 percent increase over last year.


A new front end graced the 1985 Mustang, deleting the grille in favor of a slotted hole similar to that of the 1986 Ford Sierra Cosworth. The smooth bumpers mated to new body side trim, while GT models had a flat black GT hood decal and the GT logo embossed in the trim behind the doors. More importantly, the GT now had 15X7 “10-hole” wheels wearing aggressive Goodyear VR “Gatorback” tires. The same rolling stock was applied to LX models with the 5.0, while the L disappeared from the lineup entirely. The LX didn’t go downmarket to compensate, as reclining cloth seats, AM/FM stereo were standard. Even the once-decadent console was now standard on all Mustangs, except for the LX 2-door notchback.

1985 Ford Mustang GT

Thanks to hydraulic roller tappets and a new roller camshaft, forged aluminum pistons and stainless steel tubular headers, the 5.0 now had a robust 210 hp when equipped with the manual transmission (180 hp for automatics). While GT convertibles are 5.0 only, the roofless LX used the 3.8-liter V-6. With the GT Turbo was dropped, a mid-cycle refresh to the Mustang SVO netted flush mount headlights similar to those on the 1984 Continental Mark VII, while a power boost upped output to 205 hp, thus remaining competitive with the 5.0. A new, electronically controlled AM/FM cassette player was now optional. Wheel choices were streamlined to a set of 14-inch Polycast steel wheels, 14-inch imitation wire wheel covers, or the aforementioned 10-hole alloys for the 5.0. Thanks to all the changes, a robust 156,514 units were sold for a 10 percent increase over last year.


1986 Ford Mustang LX front three-quarter

The big news was addition of sequential port fuel injection for 5.0, for both automatic and manual transmissions. Each intake port was treated to its own fuel injector, there was a long runner aluminum intake, high swirl E6 cylinder heads, a true dual exhaust with a factory H-pipe and 2.25-inch exhaust. While this resulted in a loss of 10 hp over last year (200 total) the power peak was at a lower rpm. Sadly the losses spread to the SVO, it was downgraded to 200 hp. Sales soared in 1986, as 224,410 units moved off the lot.


After the tremendous success of the Ford Taurus, a redesigned Mustang wore flush mounted lighting, and a rounder front bumper. GT models included a deep skirted, grille-less front end with integral fog lights. There were flush-mounted quarter windows and new body side moldings, while GTs had a unique body kit with side skirts, deep bumper valences, taillights without amber turn signals and with a “cheese grater” texture, and (optional) two-tone paint. The LX model received updated taillights, and 10-hole wheels were now unique to the LX 5.0, as the GT sported lighter turbine wheels in the same size. The older T-roof configuration was still available, and all three Mustang body styles received a red (or blue) stripe integrated into the moldings.

1987 Ford Mustang GT convertible front three-quarter

Powertrain options were simplified, as both the turbocharged 2.3-liter four and the 3.8-liter V-6 were deleted. The 5.0 received E7 cylinder heads from the F-series, which bumped compression to 9:1 and raised output to 225 hp with an impressive 300 lb-ft of torque.The lighter and cheaper Mustang LX 5.0 sedan could run the quarter-mile in the mid-14s right from the factory, leaving similarly optioned Camaros far behind. The 5.0’s forged pistons now sported valve reliefs, which made way for hotter camshafts from Ford Motorsport (and aftermarket vendors) without fear of ruining the short block. The GT’s sported a subtle exhaust system that let the deep skirted rear bumper run wild, while the 5.0 LX had the 1986 Mustang’s double barrel shotgun system. Suspension improvements came via revised MacPherson struts, front spindles and larger (11-inch) front brake rotors.

The 1987 interior featured a bespoke steering wheel, flat black gauge pod with full instrumentation and auxiliary switches for headlights, fog lights, hazard flashers and power top (convertible only) facing the driver. If you’ve ever spent time in an Audi 4000, this arrangement will feel familiar. The HVAC controls were above the radio in the center of the dash, and were of the rotary variety. Options included a tilt steering wheel, 6-speaker premium sound, and a 7-band graphic equalizer. GT models included standard lumbar support seats with oversized headrests and adjustable thigh supports. Even with all the changes and performance improvements, the 1987 Mustang only sold 169,772 units, down about 24 percent from 1986.


1988 Ford Mustang LX coupe front three-quarter

While California models received a Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor which restricted engine output by 2 to 3 horsepower, this was both a minor concern and a springboard for the Fox Mustang’s higher performance future. No other significant changes occurred, and sales increased 24 percent to 211,225.


1989 Ford Mustang convertible front three-quarter

All 5.0s received the MAF sensor (albeit a different design than last year) and the once optional, uprated suspension from the Mustang GT was now standard on the LX 5.0. Though the MAF has very little benefit to a stock 5.0 outside of emissions controls, 1989 Mustangs have better drivability when modified with aggressive modifications like camshaft swaps. 5.0s switched to a 140-mph speedometer while the hatchback’s T-roof option was deleted. Less impressive was the Mustang’s mid-cycle, silver anniversary celebration: from April 17, 1989, Ford added a commemorative running pony emblem on the passenger side of the dashboard. While rumors of a high-performance model abound (including a 5.8-liter powered prototype) none came to fruition. A slight dip in sales occurred this year, with 209,769 units sold.


1990 Ford Mustang 7-Up Edition front three-quarter

A driver’s side air bag was standard, which sadly deleted the tilt steering column. Even worse, the deletion of the center console’s armrest was a rare lapse in judgement, but the addition of map pockets in each door added more storage options. The sport bucket seats in the GT now used the smaller headrests of cheaper Mustangs.

For the Mustang’s formalized 25th anniversary, a run of 4103 LX 5.0 convertibles came finished in emerald green with a white top and a white leather interior. These were also noteworthy for having the GT’s turbine wheels, and for being part of a promotional giveaway for employees of the 7 up beverage company (with “7 up” hood badging). All 1990 models retained the aforementioned dashboard emblem to continue the anniversary celebrations.  Only 128,189 Mustangs were sold this year, down 39 percent.


1991 Ford Mustang Foxbody front three-quarter

This year marks the introduction of the 16-inch,  five-spoke, “Pony” rims with the Mustang running pony displayed prominently on the center cap. These were standard on both the 5.0 LX and GT models, and necessitated a revised fender and steering rack limiters to accommodate the new rolling stock. The dashboard’s running pony logo from 1989–90 remained, but without “25th Anniversary” lettering. The HVAC controls received smaller knobs and more straightforward lettering, and the center armrest came back to the roster. Convertible Mustangs benefitted from a sleeker profile when the re-engineered top was retracted.

While the 5.0 badge became synonymous with performance, and while aftermarket parts suppliers were selling 5.0 parts in staggering numbers, a new cylinder head with two spark plugs per cylinder also graced the 2.3-liter engine. Horsepower was up to 105 (+15 hp) for the base Mustang, but all these minor changes resulted in an overall sales decline: only 98,737 Mustangs were sold.


1992 Ford Mustang Summer Special front three-quarter

Changes were modest, as color-keyed bodyside moldings (LX) replaced the black belt from older versions. A new interior dome light, cheaper seat cushions without adjustable thigh supports, and a four-way power adjustable seat were optional. A limited run of 2019 5.0 LX convertibles were made with bright orange paint, white leather interiors with red piping, and a rear spoiler in place of the luggage rack. White painted 16-inch pony wheels were also part of this package. The Fox was starting to feel its age, as only 79,280 were sold this year.


In its final year of production, the Fox-body Mustang included a new Cobra model with significant improvements. Created by Ford’s new Special Vehicle Team (SVT) the Cobra engine upgrades included the GT-40 heads and a cast-aluminum version of the GT-40 intake available from Ford Motorsport, roller rockers, and 14 percent underdrive pulleys. The end result wasn’t impressive on paper: 235 horsepower and a disappointing 280 lb-ft of torque. The cheaper 5.0 Mustangs were now rated at 205 horsepower (-20hp) even though there were no significant changes, aside from a switch from forged to hypereutectic pistons.

1993 Ford Mustang LX front three-quarter

The Cobra’s other modifications were more impressive: rear disc brakes (from the 1987 Thunderbird Turbo), revised T-5 transmission, 17 x 7.5-inch wheels, and a toned-down pairing of springs, shocks, and swaybars made the Cobra a finesse player in the corners. Styling features included Mustang SVO taillights (with charcoal pinstriping), a retro grille with the running pony logo, Cobra fender emblems, a unique rear spoiler and a cleaner version of the body kit seen on Mustang GTs. Cobra color choices were limited to teal metallic, red, and black, but cruise control was surprisingly absent in the top-tier Mustang’s black or gray interior.

1993 Cobra R Mustang

While 4993 Cobras made production, an additional 107 Cobra R models were built to compete in SCCA showroom-stock racing. The Cobra Rs had a featureless interior worthy of the 1979 Mustang, complete with four-cylinder Mustang bucket seats, but also lacks the back seat. The big draw was the 5-lug “tri-bar” 17-inch wheels and 13-inch front rotors, eventually becoming hallmarks of the SN-95 Mustang. Cobra R’s also sported engine and power steering oil coolers, and a radiator from the 2.4-liter diesel Fox Body Lincolns.

All 1993 Mustangs benefited from an optional in-dash CD player, and two limited edition LX convertibles came mid year. One was triple white (white paint/top/interior) with a rear spoiler and white Pony wheels. The second was yellow with either a black top and black leather interior or a white top and white leather interior. The yellow convertible also had a decklid spoiler, but stood out thanks to chrome-plated Pony rims. Ford built 1500 white and 1503 yellow LX convertibles. Perhaps not surprisingly, the new models boosted sales to 114,228, roughly 44 percent higher than last year.

Before you buy

Thanks to a healthy aftermarket presence and the Fox Mustang’s general durability, the risks associated with buying one in nearly any condition is low. Checking for rust in the unibody is important, but aftermarket patch panels are plentiful and affordable. The bigger concern is structural integrity as the rear lower control arms’ torque boxes are a weak point: any 5.0 Mustang with even a remote chance of having drag radials or racing slicks in its past is likely to need reinforcement. Look for signs of flex or a poor repair here, but keep in mind the aftermarket also has this issue covered too.

1993 Ford Mustang LX badge and wheel

Collision repair is also a concern because of the 5.0 Mustang’s propensity for street racing history. While repair panels are plentiful and unibody straightening is commonplace, the price must accurately reflect the true condition. Interiors are generally hard-wearing and easy to restore, but make a note of the cost of replacement parts for common things like vandalized HVAC registers, cracked dash tops (1979–86), cracked instrument bezels, degraded AOD throttle cable bushings, and broken ashtray doors. Test drives are crucial to find evidence of abuse, especially for models with the T-5 manual transmission. Feel for bad synchros in the gearbox, as that’s one of the few weak links in a Fox Mustang’s powertrain. If you’re looking at an example with an aftermarket shifter, rest assured it has been driven hard at least once in its past. Not a big deal, as almost everything needed to repair these vehicles is available, but the asking price must reflect the restoration costs involved.

1993 Ford Mustang LX engine close
1993 Ford Mustang LX interior
1993 Ford Mustang LX engine

A large subset of Fox Mustangs were modified in the 1990s and 2000s. In terms of performance upgrades, they can be classified as invisible (11-inch front brakes on a 1979–86) or highly visible (five-lug brake conversions). Some are valuable (brand name parts from Ford Motorsport, Saleen, Griggs, etc.) while others hurt performance (70-mm throttle body on a stock 5.0) or narrow their appeal (temperamental race camshafts). And just because you’re looking at a 5.0 doesn’t mean it wasn’t a 2.3-liter in a previous life: Tell tale signs include a non-functional gauge cluster or body buck tag denoting a different engine. It’s crucial to know what you want, then seek out examples that come closest to meeting expectations.

Lastly, a note about originality: while low mileage originals abound, those with multiple owners were likely modified before the current seller took possession. If a seemingly original 1986–93 Mustang is missing the air box’s silencer (inside the fender), or if the mufflers do not have Ford part numbers stamped on them, odds are it had deeper modifications in its lifetime. Take your time and look closely to ensure you are getting what you pay for.


The Hagerty Valuation Team has significant insight into Fox-body Mustang prices, but please check here for the latest values. It’s difficult to speak in generalities, as Fox Mustangs include over 100 vehicles with #2-condition (Excellent) values ranging from $7100 to $90,300. That said, these have appreciated since the mid-2010s after dipping significantly during the Recession: They jumped past their pre-2008 values in 2016. Since 2013, the median #2 value for 1979–93 Mustangs is up 132 percent. Some earlier cars are only up in the 40 percent range, but later 5.0 Mustangs (LX notchback models in particular) have a larger following. The 1993 SVT models appreciated the most, with the Cobra up 190 percent and the Cobra R up 140 percent.

1993 Ford Mustang LX rear three-quarter

Hagerty’s median quoted value is $9400, with quoted value rising 21 percent over the past 5 years and the number of quotes is up 24 percent. Pre-boomers quote 4 percent of Mustangs while making up 7 percent of the market. Boomers quote 23 percent of Mustangs with 38 percent of the market and Gen-Xers quote 44 percent of Mustangs with 31 percent of the market. While it’s logical that Gen-Xers are going after the cars of their youth, it’s surprising to see millennials and Gen-Z quoting 23 percent/6 percent  with 19 percent/6 percent of the market, respectively.

This generation of Mustang is a transitional vehicle that caters to multiple generations, and made a contribution to the advent of modern, fuel injected hot rodding. Never before was there such a demand for open sourced performance parts, and no longer was the Chevy 350 synonymous with performance. And now the Fox-body is a modern classic that’s only getting more popular and valuable as time goes by.

Hagerty covers all kinds of collector cars, trucks and modified vehicles. Let’s talk about your special ride.

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Are Fox Body Mustangs Ford’s Most Underrated Car?

The Fox Body Mustang was the right car at the right time for America’s changing taste in muscle cars. While a departure from the styling of both previous and subsequent Ford Mustang generations, the Fox Body proved popular in its time, and in the following decades has only gained more of a following for its fresh take on the evolution of Ford muscle cars. So what is a Fox Body Mustang and why is this “forgotten” generation getting so much attention? 

The Ford Fox Body Platform in 1978

1978 Mustang II, Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Produced for the 1978 Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr, the Fox Body platform was a unibody chassis that was larger and had a wider wheelbase while also being simpler and lighter. For customers who demanded fuel efficiency to go along with their power, this was a welcome change.

This moved the Fox Body Mustang’s dimensions back closer to the original generation’s but at a significantly lower weight. The new design carried over the live-axle suspension on the rear of the vehicle while adding the innovative MacPhearson strut as the front suspension. The strut front suspension left more space in the engine compartment, an important development not only for stock models but for restorations and drivers who liked to customize their vehicles. 

What Sets Fox Body Mustangs Apart? 

Using the Ford Fox Body platform offered the automaker a quicker redesign from the popular Mustang II model while staying true to the shared platform philosophy that had been a hallmark of previous Mustangs. The platform proved its utility and longevity by providing the chassis for eleven different nameplates over the course of fifteen years. When finally phased out, its successor, the SN-95 platform was so closely related to it that it was dubbed by some as the Fox-4 platform. 

The platform’s longevity and versatility paid off. Ford was able to produce their cars faster and cheaper with fewer retooling while keeping mid-generation redesigns simpler to manage. For owners, that also meant a wider range of options. During its run, the Fox Body Mustang was available with seven different engines. In addition, tuners found that some powerful engines from other manufacturers, like Chevy’s LS 500+ horsepower motor would fit well and let their Fox Body fly.

For those who wanted to keep their parts “in the family” there was broad compatibility across the Fox Body platform and some elements, such as better rear suspension, on the subsequent SN-95 platform. Aside from giving Ford more flexibility in offering different option packages on Fox Body Mustangs, it gave owners more options for restoration or modification, driving up the popularity and demand for Fox Mustangs.

Fox Body Mustang Evolutions (1978-1993) 

The initial 1979 models with the Ford Fox Body platform were around six-inches longer, four-inches wider, but a hundred pounds lighter when compared to the Mustang II. While that doesn’t sound like much, in a sports car powered by a small-block engine, that weight can help the car accelerate faster off the light. 

The reception surrounding the new Mustang design was so positive that the 1979 model was named the Indianapolis 500 pace car for the first time since 1964, an accomplishment Ford needed as it struggled to regain its standing as a leader in muscle cars following the fuel shortages in the mid 1970s. 

The Four-Eyed Fox Mustangs (1979) 

1979 Ford Mustang Pace Car, Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Fox Body Mustangs are divided into two general groups, the first of which is the “four-eyed Mustangs” for the 1979-1986 model years. Named for the two squared headlights on each side of the slanted grill, many collectors love them for the unique “retro” look not found in later two-eyed models. Originally offered with a base, mid, and higher-end Cobra model, these early Fox Mustangs featured either a notchback or hatchback rear, color-keyed interior, and deep bucket seats. 

Initial motors available included a 2.3l 4-cylinder that delivered 86 horsepower or a 4.2l V8 that offered up to 122 hp. Special editions could also be equipped with a 2.3l 4cylinder turbo engine which upped the base cylinder’s horsepower to 131 for a zippy but fuel-efficient ride. 

Starting in 1982, Fox Body Mustangs dropped the Cobra package in favor of the GT badging popular in the 1960s. Promoted with the tagline, “The Boss Is Back”, the Fox Body came equipped with a 302 cu. in. motor billed as a 5.0 liter V8 which offered 140hp. The 5.0 and GT designations were as much to deliver a more powerful engine as it was to remind drivers of the Mustang’s storied past. With the fuel crises in the rearview mirror, Americans were ready to get back to higher-performance automobiles.

1983-1986 models saw small aerodynamic changes to the front of the car with a thinner, more angled grill and larger taillights that wrapped around the vehicle. Further improvements focused on handling and suspension upgrades. It also saw the introduction of the SVO model, with race-designed spoilers and a turbocharged 4-cylinder that brought 200 hp to the sportiest Fox Body Mustang yet created.

Later Model Ford Fox Bodies (1987-1993) 

1993 Fox Body Mustang convertible, Source: Wikimedia Commons

The last two years of the Fox Body Mustangs saw the return of special edition trim packages and the return of the Cobra badge with the Mustang SVT Cobra featuring a 235 horsepower engine that produced a monstroly, the third-generation Mustang was intended to give way to a front-wheel-drive variant of the Mazda MX-6 for the 1987 model year. 

Ford Mustang enthusiasts bombarded the corporate offices with mail, and eventually, the idea was scrapped in favor of a more traditional redesign of the Fox Body Mustang. Amid flagging sales, several design improvements were made that would carry into the final year of the Fox platform, 1993. The line was pared down to the LX and GT models only, and many of the aero improvements from the previous SVO package made their way into both current versions. Engine improvements and the switch to fuel injection from carburetors slowly added more power and efficiency. 

The last two years of the Fox Body Mustangs saw the return of special edition trim packages and the return of the Cobra badge with the Mustang SVT Cobra featuring a 235 horsepower engine that produced a monstrous 285 ft-lbs of torque for fast 0-60 times straight from the dealership. This return helped end the Ford Fox Body platform’s run with a bang and position the brand for success with the coming SN-95.

Protect Your Fox Body Mustang 

If you’re the proud owner of a Fox Body Mustang, make sure it’s covered by a classic car insurance policy tailored to your needs. Agreed value coverage with American Collectors Insurance goes beyond standard car insurance, so that, in the event of an accident or theft, you have the money you need to rebuild or replace your vehicle. 

Our collector specialists share your passion for the classics and are ready to help you get the coverage you need with a free quote from American Collectors Insurance. Every classic has a tale to tell. Share your Fox Body Mustang with our community and tell us why it was the car for you. 

Top 10 Reasons to Buy A Foxbody Mustang 5.0 NOW!

Readers of a certain age will always pair the image of a white Fox Body Mustang Convertible with rapper Vanilla Ice. It's thanks to his 1991 hit single "Rollin' In My 5.0" that was prominently featured on the album artwork and, of course, the music video. If you have the time to listen (or re-listen) to it, you'll hear that Mr. Ice is rather proud of his ragtop pony car.


Time hasn't been so kind to the rapper and occasional actor's career. On the other hand, the Fox Body has cemented its legacy. It may not be the prettiest or the fastest 'Stang, but its stock has been rising for the last couple of years. The thing is, can Mustangs of this vintage still offer a strong kick? That's what the folks from Late Model Restoration (LMR) wanted to find out.

For this test, they bagged a white 1987 Mustang GT 5.0 Convertible, much like what Vanilla Ice from back in the day. It's a mint one, low-mileage example with just under 80,000 miles (128,748 kilometers) on the clock. You could say it's pretty fresh given the age  of this car. This particular car has the four-speed AOD instead of the five-speed manual.

Stats? When it was new, the 1987 Mustang GT 5.0 made 225 horsepower (168 kilowatts) and 300 pound-feet (407 Newton meters) of torque. The figures may sound rather pedestrian these days, but anything with over 200 horsepower (149 kilowatts) was pretty much considered powerful back then. However, 34 years have passed since it rolled off the assembly line. How much of that power is still left?


Before we answer that, there are a few things you need to remember. Wheel horsepower is different from crank horsepower. Whatever number that pops up from the dyno will definitely be lower than the advertised power. In the case of rear-wheel drive vehicles, we're looking at about 20-25 percent power loss.

So how did this particular pony fare? According to the dyno, it pulled 184.4 horsepower (137.5 kilowatts) and 259.5 pound-feet (351.8 Newton meters) of torque. It may look low but if you consider the age and drivetrain loss, the numbers are still pretty respectable. If anything, it's also proof that care and maintenance go a long way. This is a very healthy horse indeed.


Fox ford body mustang

Ford Mustang (third generation)

Motor vehicle

Third generation
Ford Mustang convertible.jpg
Also calledFord T5 [1]
Production1978– September 1993
Model years1979–1993
AssemblyDearborn, Michigan
San Jose, California
Cuautitlán Izcalli, Mexico City, Mexico
Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela[2]
DesignerJack Telnack (1976)[3]
ClassPony car
Body style2-door convertible
2-door coupe
3-door hatchback
LayoutFR layout
PlatformFord Fox platform
RelatedFord Durango
Ford Fairmont
Ford Granada
Ford LTD
Ford Thunderbird (80–82)
Ford Thunderbird (83–88)
Mercury Capri
Mercury Cougar (80–82)
Mercury Cougar (83–88)
Mercury Marquis
Mercury Zephyr
Lincoln Continental
Lincoln Mark VII
Engine2.3 L (140 cu in) Lima I4[4]
2.3 L (140 cu in) turbochargedLima I4
3.3 L (200 cu in) Thriftpower I6
2.8 L (171 cu in) Cologne V6
3.8 L (232 cu in) Essex V6
4.2 L (255 cu in) Windsor V8
4.9 L (302 cu in) "5.0" Windsor V8[4]
Wheelbase100.5 in (2,553 mm)
Length179.6 in (4,562 mm)
  • 1979–82: 67.4 in (1,712 mm)
  • 1983–90: 69.1 in (1,755 mm)
  • 1991–93: 68.3 in (1,735 mm)
  • 1979–82: 51.5 in (1,308 mm)
  • 1983–84: 51.9 in (1,318 mm)
  • 1985–93: 52.1 in (1,323 mm)
Curb weight
  • Coupe
  • 1980: 2,608 lb (1,183 kg)
  • 1983: 2,684 lb (1,217 kg)
  • 1987: 2,724 lb (1,236 kg)
  • Hatchback
  • 1980: 2,642 lb (1,198 kg)
  • 1983: 2,744 lb (1,245 kg)
  • 1987: 2,782 lb (1,262 kg)
  • Convertible
  • 1987: 2,921 lb (1,325 kg)
PredecessorFord Mustang (second generation)
SuccessorFord Mustang (fourth generation)

Main article: Ford Mustang

The third-generation Mustang was produced by Ford from 1978 until 1993. Being built on Ford’s Fox platform, it is commonly referred to as the Fox body Mustang. It evolved through several sub-models, trim levels, and drivetrain combinations during its production life. It underwent updates for 1987, and for a time seemed destined for replacement with a front-wheel drive Mazda platform. However, company executives were swayed by consumer opinion and the rear-wheel drive Mustang stayed, while the front-wheel drive version was renamed the Ford Probe. Enthusiasts group the generation into two segments: the 1979–1986 cars, with their quad headlight arrangement, and the 1987–1993 cars, with their aerodynamic composite headlamps and front fascia styling. Production ended with the introduction of the fourth-generation Mustang (SN-95) for the 1994 model year.


1979 Ford Mustang notchback coupe

The 1979 model year Mustang was based on the Fox platform. This chassis was "Ford's initiative to build a one-size-fits-all car to serve as a two-door sports car and a four-door family car" with its initial use by the larger Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr twins that debuted in the 1978 model year.[5] "Ford built the 1979 Mustang around a platform it would share with more humble cars in the Lincoln-Mercury-Ford corporate family in order to keep development and construction costs down."[6] Body styles for the Mustang included a 2-door sedan (coupe) and 3-door sedan (hatchback). Two trim levels were available: the base model and the more luxurious Ghia model. The wheelbase was 5 in (127 mm) shorter than the Fairmont/Zephyr series at 100.5 in (2,553 mm) (nearly the same as the outgoing European Ford Capri and over 4 in (102 mm) longer than the Mustang II).


1981 Ford Mustang Cobra hatchback

The Cobra appearance package also made its debut in 1979 and would continue through both the 1980 and 1981 model years. The 1979 Cobra (17,579 produced) featured black grille, trim, and moldings (except the sail panels that were painted body color), as well as black lower body paint. The door handles, door locks, antenna, and roof drip rail were bright. Color-coordinated dual pinstripes in the wraparound body-side moldings and bumpers, as well as COBRA decals on the doors, were standard. All 1979 Cobras came equipped with a small, center mount non-functional hood scoop (to provide clearance for the air cleaner due to the 2.3L Turbo extra height). The Cobra hood decal was optional for 1979. Rear spoilers were not included on the 1979 models, as they made their debut on the mid-year introduction of the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car replica. The 1980 Cobra (5,550 produced) and the 1981 Cobra (1,821 produced) received a new front bumper and air dam with fog lights, non-functional cowl-type hood scoop, and rear spoiler (all carried over from the earlier Pace Car replicas). Graphics included belt-line stripes, a redesigned hood decal, and "COBRA" decals on both the side quarter windows and the rear spoiler. Exterior trim on both the 1980 and 1981 Cobras was black, including the door handles, key locks, antenna, and sail panels.

Interior Cobra specific parts on all 1979-1981 Cobras included "Engine Turned" dash bezels and three COBRA emblems - one in each door panel and one on the passenger side dash bezel.

Drivetrains in the 1979 model year consisted of the 2.3L (140 cu in) four-cylinder Turbo engine, rated at 131 horsepower, with a Borg Warner four-speed manual transmission or a 5.0L (302 cu in) V8, rated at 140 hp, with an 4-speed manual overdrive transmission or a 3-speed automatic transmission. For the 1980 model year only, the 2.3L four-cylinder Turbo engine was available with an optional three-speed automatic transmission, although the four-speed manual was still standard. The 5.0L V8 was replaced with a 4.2 (255 cu in) V8, rated at 118 hp, with a 3-speed automatic transmission. For the 1981 model year, the powertrains list was expanded to include a naturally aspirated 2.3L engine and a 3.3L (200 cu in) I6 engine. The 2.3L Turbo engine was only available in Canada, the automatic transmission was no longer optional, and the four-speed manual transmission was replaced by an overdrive five-speed manual transmission made by Tremec (model VS140). The 4.2L V8 also remained optional in 1981, rated this time at 120 hp.

Indianapolis Pace Cars[edit]

1979 Mustang Indianapolis 500 pace car

The Ford Mustang was chosen as the Official Pace Car of the 1979 Indianapolis 500. Ford commemorated this event with a mid-year "Indy 500" Pace Car version (10,479 produced). All were finished in two-tone pewter and black with orange and red graphics. The front end featured a unique front air dam with fog lights, and a full-length cowl type hood scoop, while the rear was available with a new for 1979 rear spoiler (all of these additions carried over to both the 1980 and 1981 Cobra). The black interior featured Recaro seats with patterned black and white inserts. Available were the 2.3L (140 cu in) four-cylinder Turbo with a four-speed manual transmission or the 5.0L (302 cu in) V8 with either an 4-speed manual overdrive or 3-speed automatic transmission. The production cars included a sunroof. However, the three actual pace cars were fitted with a T-top by Cars & Concepts of Brighton, MI. The removable panel roof option would not become an available option until the 1981 model year.[4]


1982 Ford Mustang GT hatchback

In 1982, the Cobra model was dropped in favor of the Mustang GT, which returned after 13 years. This would garner the slogan, "The Boss is Back!" This new GT model featured a re-engineered 157 hp (117 kW; 159 PS) High Output 5.0L (302 cu in) engine with new valves, a more aggressive cam (from a 1973 351W Torino application), a larger two-barrel carburetor, a revised firing order, and a better breathing intake and exhaust system. The dual-snorkel air cleaner was emblazoned with "5.0 Liter H.O." lettering, indicating that this was no ordinary 302. The GT included the front air dam with fog lamps and the rear spoiler from the 1979 Pace Car and the 1980 and 1981 Cobras. However, the full-length hood scoop from those models did not carry over and the smaller 1979 Cobra hood scoop made its return on the GT. Only four colors were offered on the GT model, and they consisted of black, bright red (mid-year introduction), dark red, and silver. The 5.0L was available on lower-trim models; L, GL, and GLX. It also formed the basis for the "SSP" (Special Service Package) cars that were used by government and police/law enforcement, and were almost exclusively ordered in the 2-door sedan body style.


Engines for the 1979–1982 models included the 88 hp (66 kW) 2.3 L Pinto inline-four, 109 hp (81 kW) 2.8 L Cologne V6 (made by Ford of Germany), and the 140 hp (104 kW) Ford small block engine 5.0L engine with its front fenders badged as such. All were carried over from the Mustang II line. Shortly after the model year started an 89 hp (66 kW) 3.3 L straight-six engine was available. Supplies of the 2.8 L V6 proved inadequate leading to it being discontinued in late 1979. A new 132 hp (98 kW) 2.3 L turbo four-cylinder, debuted that offered similar horsepower to the V8. The 2.3 and 2.3 turbo, as well as the V8 models, could also be optioned with the newly developed TRX handling suspension that included Michelin 390 mm tires and accompanying metric-sized wheels.

Following the second oil crisis in 1979, the 5.0L engine was dropped in favor of a 4.2L (255 cu in) V8 that delivered better fuel economy. The 255 was the only V8 offered in 1980 and 1981. Basically a sleeved-down 5.0L, it produced 120 hp (89 kW), the lowest power ever for a Mustang V8. The 255 was mated only with the three-speed automatic transmission. This meant the 2.3L Turbo was the sole "performance" engine. The turbo 2.3, plagued with reliability issues, was an option through 1981. It was dropped for 1982 in the United States, while remaining available in Canada. An improved version would return in the new-for-1983 Turbo GT. The Traction-Lok limited-slip differential was available for the first time in 1981, with all engine combinations. A Tremec five-speed manual option arrived late during the 1980 model year, available only with the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engines.[7]


While most of the Mustang was carried over in late 1982 for 1983, there were some changes and improvements on the then five-year-old "Fox-platform" model. The front fascia was restyled with a more rounded nose and reshaped grille. New, wider horizontal taillights with dedicated amber turn signals replaced the vertical sectioned units. This was also the first Mustang to use the "Blue Oval" Ford emblem on the exterior, both front and rear. Ford added a convertible to the Mustang line for 1983, after a nine-year absence. The majority of the convertibles were equipped with the new 3.8 L (232 cu in) Essex which replaced the 3.3 L (200 cu in) I6 engine. The 5.0L (302 cu in) V8 engine received a four-barrel carburetor and a new intake manifold, bringing power to 175 hp (130 kW). The 2.3L four-cylinder Turbo also returned mid-year 1983, now fuel-injected, and producing 145 hp (108 kW). Sales of the Turbo GT were hurt by a higher base price but lower performance than the 4.9 L (302 cu in).

For 1984, the GL and GLX were dropped, leaving the L, GT, and Turbo GT while adding new additions, the LX and SVO. Ford also recognized the 20th Anniversary of the Mustang with the G.T.350, essentially a limited run of GTs and Turbo GTs. A total of 5,260 G.T.350 hatchback and convertible models were built, all trimmed with Oxford White exteriors and Canyon-Red interiors. They featured red G.T.350 rocker stripes and tri-bar Pony emblems on the front fenders. Two 5.0L V8 engines were available, a carbureted version (with manual transmission only), or a new 165 hp (123 kW) electronically fuel-injected engine (with automatic transmission only). A new "Quadra-Shock" rear suspension, which replaced the slapper bars with horizontally mounted axle shocks, became available after a few months of production. After 1984, the TRX option was retired for the Mustang.

The new Mustang SVO appeared first in 1984 and was produced through 1986. The 2.3 L turbocharged inline-four produced initially 175 hp (130 kW) for 1984, uprated to 205 hp (153 kW) beginning halfway through the 1985 model year, and ending with 200 hp (149 kW) for 1986. Four-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch wheels, and an SVO-specific bi-plane rear spoiler were a few of the differences between the SVO and the rest of the Mustang line. The unique front fascia featured an offset hood intake duct for the turbo intercooler and a grille-less nose with sunken single rectangular sealed beam headlamps, flush inboard parking lamps, and wraparound outer turn-signal lamps. The front end was intended to use flush aerodynamic composite headlamps with replaceable bulbs, but these had not been approved by the US DOT in time for production. Aero headlamps finally appeared on the 1985½ SVO.

Hagerty (Insurance), specializing in classic cars, calls the introduction of the first 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS) Mustang in 1985 the end of the Malaise era in American auto design. [8]

For 1985, the front fascia was restyled with a grille-less nose with a horizontal air intake slot. The Mustang GT received new E5AE cylinder heads, a revised Holley four-barrel carburetor, a new and more aggressive roller camshaft (only in models with the manual transmission), less restrictive exhaust manifolds, and a pseudo-dual exhaust which brought more power to a conservatively rated 210 hp (157 kW) engine. This would be the last carbureted V8 in the Mustang. The 1985 model year dropped the L and Turbo GT, leaving the LX, GT, and SVO models. For 1986, Ford released the first multiport fuel-injected 5.0L V8, rated at 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS).

1986 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 T-top

In 1986, the Mustang GT saw drivetrain upgrades including a new 10.5-inch (upgraded from 10") clutch. A 7.5-inch rear-end continued in 2.3L, 2.3L turbo, and 3.8L applications, but 5.0L models included a new 8.8-inch unit. Central fuel injection was used on the non-turbo 2.3 in automatic versions, but was dropped the following year and replaced with a more efficient multi-port fuel injection. The rear center high-mounted brake light was now mounted on the now-standard rear spoiler for hatchbacks, inside the bottom of the rear window of the coupe, and on the rear edge the standard luggage rack on convertibles.


Engines for the 1983–1986 models included the 2.3 L, the 2.3 L turbo - now fuel-injected and available only in the Turbo GT and SVO, the 3.8 L Essex V6, and the High Output (H.O.) 5.0L V8 engine, with a new four-barrel carburetor made by Holley. The 3.3 L straight-six engine was dropped after the 1982 model year.


Transmission availability varied behind the H.O. 5.0L each year. The Tremec four-speed manual overdrive (SROD) carried over from the 1982 model year and was the standard transmission behind the 5.0L in 1983. Shortly after the 1983 model year started, the "standard duty" Borg Warner five-speed manual overdrive transmission (T-5) became available and it was then the standard transmission behind the 5.0L engine, with the SROD becoming optional - with an invoice credit - for the remainder of the model year. For model year 1984, the four-speed automatic overdrive (AOD) transmission became available for the first time in the Mustang model line, and it was available behind the 5.0L engine only with throttle-body electronic fuel injection (called 'Central Fuel Injection' or CFI). The T-5 was still available with the 4V carb induction system. For model year 1985, the Borg Warner T-5 transmission was upgraded by Borg Warner to "Heavy Duty" status, also known as "World Class". The WC T-5 was still only available with the 4V induction system. The AOD transmission was also still only available with CFI induction carried over from 1984 but shortly after the model year started it received the exhaust system from the 4V/T-5 engine, and a 15 hp bump. In 1986 the H.O. 5.0L engine was now sequentially fuel-injected (SEFI), and came with both the automatic and manual transmissions.

Mustang High Output (H.O.) 5.0L horsepower ratings by year
Year Power Torque Induction Transmission Note
1983 175 hp (130 kW) @ 4200 rpm 245 lb⋅ft (332 N⋅m) @ 2400 rpm 4V carb SROD or T-5
1984 165 hp (123 kW) @ 3800 rpm 245 lb⋅ft (332 N⋅m) @ 2000 rpm EFI (CFI) AOD
175 hp (130 kW) @ 4200 rpm 245 lb⋅ft (332 N⋅m) @ 2400 rpm 4V carb T-5
1985 165 hp (123 kW) @ 3800 rpm 245 lb⋅ft (332 N⋅m) @ 2000 rpm EFI (CFI) AOD before 11/20/84
180 hp (134 kW) @ 3800 rpm 245 lb⋅ft (332 N⋅m) @ 2000 rpm EFI (CFI) AOD after 11/19/84
210 hp (157 kW) @ 4400 rpm 270 lb⋅ft (366 N⋅m) @ 3200 rpm 4V carb T-5
1986 200 hp (149 kW) @ 4000 rpm 285 lb⋅ft (386 N⋅m) @ 3000 rpm SEFI AOD or T-5


The Mustang became Ford's main challenger in the early years of Group Atouring car racing in Europe and Australia. However, the 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8 engine was not a contender in the various European championships but replaced in 1985 by the turbocharged Ford Sierra XR4Ti.

Australian Dick Johnson purchased two Mustangs built by the German Zakspeed team in mid-1984 for use through 1985 and 1986 Australian Touring Car seasons as Ford Australia did not homologate either the Australian built Ford XE Falcon or its replacement, the XF Falcon, for racing. Johnson had a race win in the Group A support race for the 1985 Australian Grand Prix, as well as several placings in the 1985 and 1986Australian Touring Car Championships. The Mustang's competitive life in Group A came to an end at the end of 1986 and was replaced in 1987 by the European designed turbocharged Ford Sierra RS Cosworth.


1983 Ford Mustang coupé, Mexican market version

The Fox body Mustang was manufactured in Ford's Cuatitlan Itzcalli plant (located in Mexico City) from 1979 to 1984. Both the coupe and the hatchback body styles were offered. These Mexican-built Mustangs had a hybrid appearance from 1981 until 1984, using some Mercury Capri body parts.


The 1981 and 1982 models (coupe and hatchback) received horizontally-ribbed Capri taillights, plus a Capri front fascia for the 1982 model.

1983–1984 coupe[edit]

The 1983 model had a Capri front fascia, whereas the 1984 model had the standard Mustang front fascia. A 1984 SVO coupe was also offered complete with SVO taillights.

1983–1984 hatchback[edit]

The Capri body style was used for the 1983–1984 hatchback models which featured a "bubble" glass hatch liftgate, Capri taillights, and Capri wide fenders, although 1984 models had the regular Mustang front fascia. An SVO option was available for the 1984 model.

Proposed replacement[edit]

Main article: Ford Probe

By the mid-1980s, Mustang sales were slumping. Sales were over 100,000 units a year, but were minimal compared to previous numbers. Ford believed that the Mustang had lost its place in the market. They subsequently announced that they would replace the rear-wheel drive Mustang with a Mazda-derived front-wheel-drive version. Mustang fans quickly responded and sent Ford hundreds of thousands of letters, asking them to continue production of the rear-wheel drive Mustang. Ford responded by continuing production of the rear-wheel drive Mustang, and proceeded to rename the front-wheel-drive version as the Probe, which ended up being a replacement for the Escort-basedFord EXP.[9]


1989 Ford Mustang LX Coupe

In August 1986, the Mustang received a facelift for the 1987 model year on both the interior and exterior. The front end was restyled to look more like the SVO which gave the car more of an "Aero" look, in keeping with Ford's overall modern styling direction. The interior received an all-new dash, center console, and revised seat and door trim. With the SVO discontinued, models were now pared down to LX and GT. Taillights on the LX were revised with clear lenses for the turn signals while the GT now wore specific body-colored triple louvered lenses. The quarter glass windows lost their louvers and now sported a single larger flush piece of glass lettered with "Mustang" at the bottom rear corners. The GT models featured new round fog lamps and gained aerodynamic lower bodyside skirting as well as new turbine style 15-inch (380 mm) wheels. The 302 cu in (4.9 L) Mustangs became popular with the aftermarket performance industry.[10] The V6 option was discontinued while the 2.3 L four-cylinder gained fuel injection, leaving only the 2.3 L four-cylinder and the 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8.

V8-powered Mustangs received E7TE heads and forged aluminum pistons with valve reliefs in 1987, as opposed to the flat-tops used in the previous year.[11] The E7 cylinder heads were sourced from the truck line after the 1986 swirl-port design demonstrated performance problems. Power ratings increased to 225 hp (168 kW) and 300 ft⋅lbf (410 N⋅m) of torque. No major changes were seen for 1988, although the T-top roof option for hatchbacks was discontinued midyear.

For 1989, the Mustang's speed density computer system was replaced with a mass air system (1988 Mustangs sold in California also had the MAF system). This change slightly reduced factory horsepower, but it made Mustangs much easier to modify. With the mass air system, changes made to the intake, engine, and exhaust system would be recognized and compensated for by the ECU, resulting in a correct air/fuel ratio and optimum power. Ford's only gesture at a 25th Anniversary Mustang was a small, passenger-side dashboard emblem with galloping-horse logo affixed to all models built between 27 March 1989, and the end of model-year 1990.[12] Finally, in 1989, Ford resources began to focus on the next Mustang, due to its debut in late 1993.[13] Through its retirement in 1993, there would be few changes in the model line, but the changes would be visual.

For 1990, Mustang added a new steering wheel featuring an airbag, and a revised lower driver's-side dash panel with knee bolster. The available tilt-steering wheel, however, was discontinued in favor of the revised airbag-equipped steering column. A limited run of 4.9 L (302 cu in) equipped LX convertibles - all painted Emerald Green metallic with white convertible tops, Oxford White leather interiors featuring GT seats, and 15" turbine alloy wheels - were produced for an NCAA half-court shot contest, sponsored by soda brand 7-Up, but the event was canceled shortly before it was scheduled to begin. Ford, already having produced 4,103 vehicles (2,743 with the AOD four-speed automatic overdrive, and 1,360 with the T-5 five-speed manual transmission), released them for dealer availability. Revamped interior quarter panels for the 1990 model year did away with the side armrests for rear seat passengers, but gained large speaker panels. Door map pockets and clear coat paint also became standard for the 1990 Mustang, along with the availability of optional leather interior trim.

The 1991 model year changes to the 2.3 L I4 engines included an increase in horsepower (from 88 to 105) due to a revised cylinder head with two spark plugs per cylinder. Base-model Mustang prices exceeded $10,000 for the first time, and sales began to drop. A revised roof for the convertible allowed the top to fold closer to the body. V8-equipped models received new 16" five-spoke 'star' alloy rims.

In 1993, Ford switched to cast hypereutectic pistons for all 302 cu in (4.9 L) engines and also re-rated the GT to 205 hp (153 kW) and 275 ft⋅lbf (373 N⋅m) of torque. This estimate was more accurate given the previous power ratings were made before the addition of the mass airflow system, minor revisions in the camshaft profile, and other various small changes made throughout the production run. The individual rear power window switches, mounted within the quarter panel speaker grilles in the back seat of convertible models, were removed. Control for the rear power windows was now relegated to the driver's door switch panel. The black bumper rub strips and side moldings on LX models were now body-colored. Similar to the 1990 7-Up Mustang, for 1992, Ford produced 3,333 special Spring-edition (1992-1/2) LX 4.9 L (302 cu in) convertible with a Vibrant Red exterior and Oxford White leather interiors. Also for 1993, Limited Edition models featured a Chrome Yellow exterior with black or white leather interior, or a Vibrant white exterior with white leather interior. Under the newly established Ford SVT division, the 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra was offered with the 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8 that produced 235 hp (238 PS; 175 kW) at 5000 rpm and 285 lb⋅ft (386 N⋅m) of torque at 4000 rpm. Featuring more subdued styling than the GT, the Cobra used Ford's new GT-40 high-performance engine equipment. A Cobra R model was also produced for 1993 that used the same engine as the regular Cobra. It featured larger brakes, Konishocks and struts, engine oil cooler, power steering cooler, and rear seat delete. Options such as air conditioning and a stereo system were not available on the Cobra R. Production of the third-generation Mustang concluded in September 1993. The 1993 Mustang was the first for a CD player to be optional from the factory. Finally, 1993 also marked the end of the "official" SSP Police/government Mustangs, though some agencies continued buying standard Mustangs for undercover or highway interceptor use.

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External links[edit]

  • The car-auction website Bring a Trailer has a collection of a half-dozen '80s Mustangs for sale in an auction that ends on December 28.
  • Among the highlights: a 1984 turbo SVO model, a 1988 ASC McLaren convertible version, and even an ex–Florida Highway Patrol police Mustang from 1989.
  • The cars are being auctioned individually, but what a collection they'd make if you got the whole set.

Bring a Trailer

The Fox-body Mustang enjoyed an uncommonly long run, from disco to grunge. Along the way, Ford had plenty of time to evolve the car and roll out distinct variants. There were carbureted cars and fuel-injected ones, four-eye headlights and flush, convertibles and coupes (both notchback and hatchback), and even a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder SVO model. And all of that, plus a Saleen, are represented in a Pennsylvania collection now up for auction on Bring a Trailer. The auction ends on Monday, December 28.

Bring a Trailer

The oldest car in the lot is a 1984 Mustang SVO, the least meatheadish of all Fox-bodies. Powered by a turbo four, it made a beefy-for-the-era 175 horsepower and featured four-wheel disc brakes, a five-speed manual, and a 3:45 limited-slip rear end. Most important, though, the SVO brought a hood scoop and a factory biplane rear spoiler that tells the world, "Yeah, I admire the Merkur XR4ti, but I prefer to buy American." This one has 64,000 miles and tires that are from, uh, 2005. Melba Toast here might need a new set of shoes.

Bring a Trailer

Next up is a 1985 GT with 72,ooo miles. This is one of the four-eyed cars, the last stalwart of the early-'80s carbureted era. These cars have their following, but they're generally not worshipped the way that some of the later 5.0 models are. That's why this one might be the bargain of the bunch. And its four-barrel 4.9-liter V-8 made 210 horsepower, which wasn't too shabby (yes, all the Mustang 5.0s of this era were actually 4.9s, and if that's news to you we're terribly sorry to shatter the foundations of your entire Mustang worldview). Sure, that's less than the subsequent fuel-injected GT's 225 horsepower, but Ford tended to futz with horsepower ratings in those days, and "around 200-something horsepower" is probably appropriate for most 5.0 models. In 1993 Ford de-rated it to 205 horsepower for no apparent reason, except maybe to create some perceived difference between the 5.0 cars and the new Cobra. But anyway, if you want to roll like Troy from The Goonies, this is the one to get.

Bring a Trailer

This auction features a pair of weirdo 1988 Mustangs, so let's look at the obscurest first: the ASC McLaren convertible. The main benefit—and also the main drawback—of this car is that 98 percent of the populace will think it has a lot to do with McLaren, and the 2 percent who know otherwise will explain the difference in tedious detail. The first part of the name is most germane, since American Sunroof Company cut the tops off Mustang coupes to create this two-seat, manual-top Fox-body. McLaren was supposedly involved in tuning, but a proto-F1 this is not. It does appear to be a perfectly good and sort of strange Mustang, but Ford's own convertible Mustangs famously had back seats and power ragtops so your hair could blow, so this is one for the real Stang heads.

Bring a Trailer

The 1988 Saleen, on the other hand, is a known entity, in that it predates decades of subsequent Saleen tuner cars. Despite showing 123,000 miles, it's already commanding big money, which is understandable because it's awesome. Look at those graphics. Look at that Pioneer graphic equalizer. The cigarette burns on the driver's seat? Those are factory. Imagine the Aqua Net in your coif meeting the black netting of the headrests. This is easily the most Cobra Kai car in the collection, and we're sure the price will reflect that.

Bring a Trailer

But Ford made Mustangs for narcs, too, as exemplified by the 1989 SSP. This baby started life as a Florida Highway Patrol car before retiring to the Fort Walton Beach PD in the early '90s. Considering the use case for a Florida cop car, it's amazing this Mustang still exists in this condition—or any condition, aside from "chewed in half by perp on krokodil." The Fox-body SSP police cars were some of the meanest-looking po-po rides ever, and surely the most fun. They were basically the Mustang track-/drag-car setup (notchback, 5.0, five-speed) adapted for police use. If you saw this in your rearview mirror, you weren't getting away. Unless maybe you had a Saleen.

Bring a Trailer

Finally, we have a 1989 Mustang GT that's unusual mainly for its mintiness. By now, most 1989 GTs have been turned into 8-second drag cars, stripped for parts or wrapped around a phone pole outside a Waffle House parking lot. This one was likely saved by its particular combination of options, which is totally Dad Spec. It's an automatic hatchback with all the frills—power windows and locks, cruise control and air conditioning. And it's in that sweet spot for mileage—23,000 miles—where it still looks like a new car but you can actually drive it without instantly depreciating it by 50 percent. Look at that interior. If you were in high school circa 1989 and couldn't afford this car, maybe now's your chance.

These cars are all for sale individually, so you don't have to buy six Mustangs at once. But it would be real cool if you did.

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