The cars we loved.
If there was ever a point in the Mustang’s history where it tried to be everything to everyone in one model, it might have been with the 1982 – 83 GLX Series Mustangs. The ideal of a luxurious Mustang started with the long options list of the original ‘60s cars before becoming a true luxury model with the 1969 Grande hardtop. Although nearly any Mustang could be lavished with luxury options, the ideal of a consistant luxury model did not gain steam until the second generation.
Those cars lacked the performance to be much more than smaller Thunderbird alternatives. The luxury and sport Mustang proved elusive until the Fox bodied cars arrived. By 1982 the Mustang model mix had shifted with a range that included four models with the GT being the top for performance and the GLX for luxury. The GLX could be had with the full range of engines that were available in Mustangs at the time, but a new 3.8 L V6 had become the most popular configuration. It was also available in notchback or hatchback body styles.
While any Mustang promises a certain level of performance and road handling, the GLX offered luxury and performance if optioned with the V8. It was the most posh Mustang you could buy and in many respects the most grown-up alternative for those who just had to have a pony car without ducts, stripes and spoilers. In many respects it was a GT (or could be) without all the boy racer aero bits.
Initially the convertible Mustang came only as a GLX model. Beyond the novelty of being the first 3rd gen factory drop top, the GLX offered more performance than the Buick Riviera and Chrysler LeBaron. It seems almost inconceivable that those cars would compete with a Mustang, but Ford had high hopes for the GLX initially, even if customers never saw Ford’s pony car in that league – after all there was the Thunderbird for that.
Convertibles had a standard power up feature and rear quarter windows that could be rolled down manually. For those who wanted the increased rigidity of a hard top, they could have the best of both worlds with an optional t-roof.
Inside all GLX trimmed cars sported a faux woodgrain dash and four spoke steering wheels that either resembled the ones in the Thunderbird or a hole-in-the-spoke performance look. The shifter be it a four speed automatic or the rare 5 speed manual were console mounted. Leather seats were also an option. How close to the Thunderbird in feel depended on other options that could make the Mustang look like a wire wheeled competitor to the LeBaron or Riviera.
There was also the option of blackout trim with the same TRX wheels available on the GT. This configuration came very close to the Mercury Capri in its approach to “Euro styled” sophistication in a pony car.
By the time dealers added their own options (spoilers etc), the multiple choice GLX could resemble anything from the V8 GT to 4 cylinder Ghia. The GLX was a successful concept for the Mustang and eventually evolved into the LX that would become the enthusiast favorite due to its V8 availability and slightly lighter weight over the spoilered and ground effected GT.
Today at over $40k for a loaded GT, the ideal of a luxurious Mustang is just a matter of checking the right options. Even the four cylinder turbo cars go further in refinement and luxury than the old GLX ever did. So the old saying still applies that you can have your cake and eat it too as a 300+ hp Mustang can have heated leather seats, power everything and still manage 30 mpg. Pony car luxury has come a long way.