Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
September 1, 2004

The year was 1986, and Ford was introducing its first fuel-injected V-8 Mustang. Knowing what you know now, we'll bet you think this was a good thing-and it was. But the automotive pundits of the period were aghast. Computers were a new technology at the time, and for the vast majority of Americans, a computer was not only a foreign commodity, it was downright scary. Most Mustang magazine writers (a far fewer number of scribes than now compete for your attention) wrote horror stories about how the new EFI Mustang would "shut right down" if you even looked at it with a hot-rodder's eye. Most even explained (inaccurately, we might add) that the new computer would be able to adjust the engine's tune so that any attempt to make more power-via a free-flowing exhaust system, for example-would result in a recalibration that would leave you with exactly the same power level as before you began. Most folks believed this philosophy, and several Mustangs of the '86 vintage had all their electronics replaced with more familiar four-barrel carburetors and matching intake manifolds.

Despite the detractors, 1986 was a great year for the Mustang. It not only opened the future of the car to vastly refined fuel delivery systems, but it also brought us a true dual exhaust and the 8.8-inch rearend. Once the '87 5.0 models came out with their 25hp bump, the '86 model served as a nice transition into the age of electronic fuel injection.

It is unlikely that Doug Cannon, a 43-year-old Defense Department manager from Westminster, Maryland, ever knew that all this drama had unfolded when he bought his '86 LX Mustang in 1992 for only $3,700. He had been into-gasp!-foreign cars at the time, and he was just looking for something to keep up with his buddy's '87 Buick T-Type (a close relative to the Grand National). Doug wanted a nice, clean car to have as a street/strip weapon against those nasty turbo Buicks, and with 67,000 miles on the clock and a flawless factory finish, the stock-down to the air silencer-'86 notchback was a perfect candidate.

"I wasn't too sure about the front end styling at the time," Doug says. "But I bought the car from a co-worker who was going overseas. I laughed at myself for being so fiscally irresponsible-buying a car that I didn't even need! Now, after many years of enjoyment, I realize it was truly a bargain."

Let's get something else out in the open right now-finding a clean '86 LX notchback that came from the factory with a 5.0 motor is challenging. If you do locate one, it will most likely be a pursuit vehicle that was employed by Florida law enforcement, or, if it's a civilian unit, it will be in black or red. Finding a blue one is tough-although I used to see one regularly at my home dragstrip in the late-'90s.

Without trying to make this sound like a Mustang Monthly feature, what may be the rarest part of this car is the factory-original tan interior (or "sand beige/buckskin cloth low-back bucket seats" to be exact). Doug provided us with a copy of the window sticker from this special-order car, and its original owner paid $11,623 for this beauty, with the 5.0 motor ($1,211), five-speed ($124), P225/60VR15 performance tires ($665), and air conditioning ($762) being the more expensive options on this loaded little coupe. In case you're wondering, it was rated at 17 mpg (city) and 25 mph (highway).