Ford Mustang: third generation
The third generation Mustang was built on the all-new Fox platform; it was both taller and longer than its predecessor the Mustang II, but it was two hundred pounds lighter. The car came with either a 2.3L 4-cylinder engine, a 2.3L turbo, a 2.8L V6, and the 5.0L V8. The first Mustang of the third generation departed from the looks of the older models, taking on a more European, less traditional look.
The 1980 model year saw Ford drop the 302 V8 from its Mustang line. To replace it, they offered a 255ci V8 that produced just 119hp. Ford wanted to build an engine that was sporty and fuel efficient at the same time, but Mustang purists found that the new engine was underpowered. Along with the 4.2L V8, the 2.8L was replaced with a 3.3L V6.
For 1981, stricter emissions standards meant more changes. The 2.3L turbo was dropped from the line, and the 255ci V8 saw its horsepower drop to an all time low. However, in 1982 power made a bit of a comeback. The Mustang GT returned, as did the 5.0L V8. This time around, that engine produced 157hp, and the intake and exhaust were also improved. At the time, the Mustang was one of the fastest American cars.
In 1983, the convertible returned to the lineup, and the power of the GT's 5.0L increased to 175hp. The 1983 Mustang was so well-received that the CHP bought 400 of them to be used as pursuit cars. In 1984, 20 years after it debuted, the Special Vehicle Operations group released the SVO. A little more than 4,500 were built, and they were powered by a 2.3L turbo that could put out 175hp and 210 lb. ft. of torque. The SVO was a contender, but its then-high price of $15,585 put it out of the reach of the majority of buyers.
In efforts to further improve its engine line, Ford released a 5.0L HO motor for 1985. It could produce up to 210hp when matched to a manual transmission. The SVO was offered again that year; 1,515 were built. Mid-year, the SVO was redesigned and 439 more were made. Their high horsepower and torque made them very popular with Mustang enthusiasts.
In 1986, the Mustang lost its carburetor when Ford released the first multiport fuel injection V8. The 302ci motor was rated at 225hp, and the SVO remained in the lineup (3,382 were built). Only a few minor changes were made, resulting in a slight drop in horsepower. In 1987, the Mustang was more aerodynamically designed, though still built on the Fox platform. The 5.0L could then produce 225hp, and the V6 was no longer an option. The SVO disappeared from the lineup, but there was an SVT Cobra offered.
There were few changes made for 1988. The GT was very popular, and that year over 68,000 units were built. The T-top was discontinued as an option, and GTs built in California got a mass airflow sensor to replace the outdated speed density model. In 1989, all Ford Mustangs had a mass air system. For the 25th anniversary of the brand, all cars built between April 17, 1989-1990 had a special inscription on the dashboard.
In 1991, the base Mustang came with a 2.3L engine that could produce 105hp. All V8 models had 5-spoke, 16" aluminum rims. Mustang sales dropped in 1992, and in an effort to spur demand, a limited edition model was released at the end of the model year. The LX had a 5.0L V8 in a stripped-down body style; the only thing that distinguished it from a base model on the outside is the lack of a dual exhaust.
In 1993, the Special Vehicle Team made news yet again when they introduced the SVT Cobra, along with the Cobra R model. The R was a racing model, coming without a stereo or air conditioning. Despite that, all R models sold out before production started.