The cars we loved.
The Mustang had gone through some rocky times with tightened emissions standards choking horsepower. The public’s general reluctance to accept the advanced Euro-like turbo powered SVO put a damper on Fords plans to offer a substitute for the traditional V8 powered pony car. As far as the traditional Mustang buyer was concerned, a Mustang that was not V8 powered at the rear wheels, might as well be a Nissan or Toyota. After finishing last place in an early 80’s performance test against the new Corvette, 280zx and Z28, the Mustang GT sat in a sales slump. The rumors began to swirl, especially after the Probe V concept car began making the rounds at auto shows. To the casual observer it looked as if Ford might give up on the ideal of a V8 powered Mustang. So when the announcement came in 1985 that the SVO’s suspension would be married to a standard GT with an improved V8, there were many happy blue oval fans awaiting the results.
The new car was worth the hype.
Borrowing the Quadrashock system developed initially for the GT, but used on the SVO, improved handling significantly. Gas filled shocks with progressive rate springs made the Mustang’s road holding abilities more on par with its competition. Gone was the wildly uncontrollable at the limit performance of previous cars. Ford had learned that increasing horsepower at the expense of handling was dangerous.
The 1985 Mustang GTs true appeal was under the hood. The revised 5.0 featuring new roller cams and carburetor now made 210 hp. The bump up in power was accompanied by unheard of improvements in fuel efficiency. Now at 18 mpg, the GT set new standards for a performance car, further justifying the continued use of the V8.
To control all that power in daily driving, larger front and rear anti roll bars were added and new low profile 225/60 VR 15 Gatorback tires (similar to the ones used on the Corvette) were fitted to aluminum rims. Other influences from the SVO filtered down to the GT, like the aerodynamic nose that lowered the drag coefficient to .39. A freer flowing exhaust now sported two pipes at each edge, giving a more aggressive look from the rear. Later Mustangs would get the SVO’s advance fuel injection as 1985 was the last year of the carbureted Mustang.
At $10k less than the 300ZX, Z28 or Corvette, this was the closest a standard Mustang GT would ever come to the performance of either the 300zx or Corvette. As the 300ZX became a heavier highway cruiser, the Mustang eventually surpassed it in many respects, until its late 80’s redesign. Now the Mustang GT is very much on caliber with the base Corvette and even BMW’s M3 at half the price. In 1984 Mustang fans probably would have never imagined that the beloved 5.0 would make a comeback in such a big way then or now.