Buying a Fox-body Ford Mustang? Here’s what you need to know.


The 1985 SVO actually had a listed curb weight 89 lbs heavier than a 1985 GT. I doubt all the extra weight was in the biplane rear spoiler. Ford’s small block was always one of the smallest and lightest, which is why it fit in Sunbeams and ACs. Imagine a world where you could drive your SVO as hard as you want without fear of it blowing up. Besides, it is incredibly easy to build a small block Ford today that puts out over 400 horsepower on pump gas. Even if you don’t allow me to light a candle in your cursed darkness, every SVO that benefits from my advice is one less preserved artifact standing between your novelty and collector status. You should thank me either way.


Well engineered cars don’t require F1 team level support or customers finding solutions to problems created by insufficient engineering. That’s pretty much what being well engineered involves.


‘well engineered’ is not the same as overbuilt…‘over-enginered’ is another scenario… one would not want to fly in an airplane that has not been serviced by someone not certified for the job… quite few different import cars sold here were considered ‘unreliable’, which were perfectly reliable in ‘other’ countries…the difference being…proper servicing by persons familiar with the product they were working on…I’d consider a contemporary Rolls/bentley from same time period to be ‘over engineered’ in spite of which…very easy to screw the car up if worked upon by someone not familiar with with its quirks…but when serviced correctly as scheduled capable of 1/2 million miles before overhaul… Many US cars tended to be ‘overbuilt’ (cheap gas allowed less than efficient oversized power trains and heavy components …‘other’ nations with costly fuel took a very different direction in design concept) …Studebakers come to mind as an overbuilt machine… many european and especially French and German cars come to mind as ‘well engineered’,.,but very easily messed up if not serviced to manufacturer recommendations… Was not the 2.3 ford turbo originally a developed in Germany ? I seem to recall they were reliable in the right hands…and disaster if poorly serviced and driven…I recall an aqaintance that had at last 3 engines in less then 2 yrs in his 80s turbo thunderbird…he was an idiot…A neighbor in southern ca (professional pilot) had a merkur XR4 purchased new, which he ran past 200k and never had issues with it…fortunately things evolve… with globalization and fuel efficiency standards many cars are now ‘world market’ and virtually the same both here and in europe… today 100hp per liter displacement in a commuter car is not unusual… 40 yrs ago such outputs were the holy grail for tuners…I think its safe to say that cars today are far better engineered than they were even 20 yrs back…personaly I cant work on many of them… too complicated…and too many special tools required. ‘well engineered’ is appropriate …


Lots of errors in this article:

The GT was produced from 1982 -1993 continuously. Including 83 and 84. Both years with 175 hp 245 tq.

The roller can debuted in 1985 with the carb HO Mustang GT. 210 hp and 265 tq.

Multi port fuel injection arrived for 1986…200 hp and 285 tq.


Thanks for the comment, we’ve updated the story to reflect the correct fuel injection start date.


Incorrect. The 84 had the CFI auto option as well. And there was no carb in 86.


Thanks for the corrections, we’ve updated the copy to reflect the changes.


The swap I would love to see is a new 2.3L EcoBoost into an '85-86 SVO. Not cheap if you buy the crate motor (about 6g’s) but that would be the absolute balls.


Happy to help and glad it did!


The Cobra name was used from 1985-1989 on Canadian Mustang GT’s. Unfortunately it was in name only with no extra performance parts. I still have my 1985 GT that I bought brand new. The Cobra decal is in the middle of the rear spoiler. When the high brake light was added to the spoiler in 1986, the size of the decal was reduced and moved to the side. I have the original build sheet for my 85 and on it the car is called a Mustang Cobra GT 3-Door Sedan. One other odd thing is the 2.3 litre turbo was still an option on 1982 Canadian cars. Wish I still had that 82 Turbo GT as it would be very rare today, but I traded it in for my 85.


According to what I see on line the SVO is only 9 or 10 pounds lighter I think the extra weight is the brakes and suspension components including the larger wheels and 50 series tires. Never have thought of the car as a super collectable and I think it may be one day or not is more likely. I look at the prices on line for a 69 -70 Mach 1 compared to some mopars and I don’t get it I would own a 69 Cobra Jet any day,guess I have always been a Ford guy. If you have never driven an SVO let me tell you they are fun to drive the handling makes it a lot of fun. I just think adding four more cylinders (302 ) would throw the balance away that makes it handle so well go south.


I have a 79 that I built into an 87 back in the early 90’s. It was a coupe with a blown up 4 cylinder. I had a wrecked 87 GT so I transplanted the entire drivetrain and suspension from it. I converted to a Holley carb so as to avoid dealing with the computer and wiring haress. It’s a 5.0 with a 5 speed. Using body parts from LX model Mustangs I made it look like an 87 5.0 LX completely. Only the dash is a dead giveaway. Inspite of what they say above almost everything can be changed. For the front I used the 87-88 hood, fenders, front cover, front bumper and headlight panel. It fit fine and looks good. For the rear it’s easier, just change the bumper cover. The trunk is different too so I changed it as well. The rear qtr glass from an LX will fit too, just have to drill new holes to attach it. The same with the rear LX tail lights, they fit OK if you drill new mounting holes. I also bought new black 87 side trim and attached it to the doors and fenders. It all fit fine. I upgraded the suspension along the way with springs, struts, shocks, bushings, etc. and converted the rear brakes to discs using parts from an 88 Turbo Thunderbird. It has Lincoln calipers in the front as the piston is much bigger. I installed a full cage into it too as I ran it in SCCA American Sedan for a while. I still use it as a track car to this day.


I also have a 92 Caypso Green LX Hatchback w/ about 110K miles. I am the 2nd owner, purchased in 1998. Minor mods, I wanted to keep the car close to original. I did eliminate the a/c unit. I’m w/ you… I’m never going to sell this car! I absolutely love it.


Your right I always liked the Fox body Capri’s. I preferred the front and rear styling of this car and the Bubble back window. I worked at Budget rent a car in 1983 (whew my age!) And got to drive the Capri’s and the hot 3rd Generation Firebirds. (V6 only) what a blast. Boy the looks I got in the Firebird. The one thing that I always remembered about those Firebirds were how Damn stiff the gas pedals were.


Great article! The Fox Mustangs really are bulletproof. I’m the second owner of my '90 5.0 LX which has been a daily driver for almost 30 years. Has 311,000 miles on the clock, all original drive train, running strong, 25 mpg on the freeway, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys to drive.


I have an 86 GT convertible that I have been modifying and summer driving since 92. I updated by suspension with D.E.C.H. racing components and upgraded my drive-train with all the best advise and components from DaSilva Racing to the point of having about 300HP at the flywheel.
I couldn’t agree more with your closing summary when you said “just modern enough to be your daily driver without asking you to make sacrifices in comfort or reliability”. I have expressed essentially the same sentiment to everyone I have ever talked to about why I still love this car.
Being from the northern climate I limit my driving to April - Oct, so the car is still totally rust free, even though I have over 400,000 km on it, mostly from summer road trips. I have total confidence in the car’s reliability and have driven it through every US state except Hawaii, and every Canadian province and territory except Nunavut.
Despite many offers to buy it, both my wife and I love it so much that we never get to the point of discussing a price. Another 100,000 km and I should be ready to turn it over to one of the grandkids.


The first new car I ever bought was an 86 GT hatchback. Loaded, I paid exactly $14,000 from Rye Ford Subaru in Rye, NY. Wimbledon white, charcoal interior, 5-speed. Best car I ever owned Drove it for 9 years and 90,000 miles, then traded it for an 86 LX convertible with a v-6. That was the worst car I ever owned.


I have an 83.5 Gt Turbo. I’ve had for over 20 years and love it. By the way the 83.5 turbo predated the the 86 with Fords Truly first computer controlled manifold fuel injected engine. Mine is number 500 of 603 designated as 83’s. The car currently has 176,000 miles on it. I installed a bigger clutch, intercooler and 2.5 in. Exhaust . I had the car taken down to bare metal and torally restored three years ago. I also redid the full red interior . My plan is to build the engine to a “mild” 300 bhp. Knowing these engines can go higher but i don’t want to change the T5 tranny or rearend. I love this car! With the suspension upgrades a previous owner made she’ll hold a sweeping curve at 90+ mph . No body roll at all with urethane bushing and huge Fomoco roll bars front and rear. My little beast draws the younger crowd at cruise ins who can relate to this cars setup that predates their Honda’s and mitusbishis by 30 years.


Actually on the 84 gt500 anniversary edition some had fuel injection.
I’ve read that fuel injection started in 86 on this thread but it was earlier.
I own a convertible with the 302 h.o. fuel injected…


I bought the 1984.5 GT350 Anniversary model new in April of 84- my first new car out of college. Still have it, 36000 original miles. Runs like a madman. Love the fox, 4 eyed fox that is…