5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
1987 Ford 5.0 Mustang Revisited - Twenty And Something
Today Mustangs Dominate, But 20 Years Ago, The Car That Spawned An Industry Made A Surprisingly Tepid Start
The fact that it was a new car is also a strong memory. At the time, my Mustang was 21 years old and had 250,000 miles on it. It ran fine, thanks to my quickie engine rebuild and generally careful maintenance by the previous owner, but it was still full of rattles, dents, and it was loose about the bushings. It had dated technology, so the new unibody, power rack-and-pinion steering, fresh shocks, low-profile tires, insulated cockpit, and tearing 5.0 H.O. engine made it feel as though I had stepped off a hay wagon and into an Imperial Star Cruiser. It was quiet, smooth, and fast-three things I hadn't associated with one car before.
Only after a few years of sampling everything from Saleens to aftermarket specials to Roush Trans Am cars did I come to see my '66 fastback as a stone-age relic and the '87 5.0 a basic bit of transport at heart. The unmanageable rear suspension was the first reality check, and the general structural looseness of the Fox car also made itself known soon thereafter.
This was especially true of the convertibles. In those days, we magazine guys drove an endless succession of 5.0 hatchbacks-I've driven literally hundreds of them-but coupes were essentially unheard of; it was more likely you'd be handed a convertible. My first Fox drop-top was Liz Saleen's new '88 white-with-blue-stripes demo car. It had 150 miles on it when I picked it up Friday morning and 1,700 miles on it when I turned it in the following Tuesday. That car benefited from chassis bracing, but the first time I drove a stock 5.0 convertible, I almost wet my pants driving it down a twisty two-lane. Structurally, the car was loose. I could literally feel the unibody twisting in response to turning the steering wheel-a real eye-opener.
Still, my '87 5.0 impression is that first blast up the onramp. Finally, the '60s were over and a new era had arrived.