Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
March 1, 2008
Photos By: Jim Smart

The '86 SVO was basically a carry-over of the performance-improved '85-1/2 model. Horsepower dropped slightly to 200 thanks to a reprogrammed EEC-IV that accommodated lower octane fuel, and the bi-plane rear wing got a federally mandated third brake light. More importantly, the SVO's three-year run as the top-of-the-line Mustang was coming to an end. Even as the first SVOs were rolling off the assembly line in 1984, Ford was making plans to replace the Mustang after 1986 with the Mazda-based Probe. Kranefuss and his team were duly informed that SVO Mustang production would end as well.

In a twist of fate, Ford later elected to continue Mustang production at least through 1993. But by then, it was too late for the SVO. On April 22, 1986, the last SVO Mustang rolled out of the Dearborn Assembly Plant.

With fuel prices on the rise in the '80s, SVO was ahead of the curve in terms of fuel-efficient horsepower. Kranefuss even predicted that V-8 engines would disappear by the end of the '80s. However, as SVO production ended, Ford was preparing to unleash a 225hp version of the 5.0L for the '87 Mustang. Enthusiasts soon discovered that, yes, they could still modify fuel-injected Mustangs, and the 5.0 launched a V-8 performance revolution for the Mustang that continues to this day.

Although the SVO was gone, its influence was found on future Mustangs. The '87 Mustang GT featured a similar aero-nose with flush headlights. Quad-shocks became standard equipment on 5.0-equipped Mustangs. The '93 Cobra took advantage of four-wheel disc brakes and the SVO's taillight covers. And of course, the EEC-IV engine processor, first used in the SVO, was a large factor in the success of the '87-'93 5.0 Mustangs.

The SVO ranks as one of the greatest all-around performance Mustangs of all time. Unfortunately, it just wasn't the right time.


History Preserved
Jim Doiron purchased his '86 SVO new in Kansas City, Missouri. Even then, he realized that the limited-production Mustang was something special and he set out to preserve his piece of Mustang history. Today, the car has just over 8,000 miles to rank as the second lowest mileage SVO Mustang in the SVO Registry, as maintained by the SVO Club of America ( "It has never seen rain or bad weather," Jim says. "The interior still smells new."

Quick Specs: '86 Mustang SVO
Engine: 2.3L SOHC
Induction: EFI, turbocharged, intercooled
Boost: 14 psi with premium; 9 psi with regular dual exhaust
Horsepower: 200 at 5,000 rpm
Torque: 240 at 3,000 rpm
Transmission: T5 five-speed
Rear-Axle Ratio: 3.73 Traction-Lok

SVO-specific equipment

  • 8,000-rpm tach and turbo boost gauge
  • Koni adjustable shocks
  • Revised spring rates and larger stabilizer bars
  • Rear quad shocks
  • 16x7-inch cast-aluminum wheels
  • 16-inch Goodyear Eagle tires
  • 15:1 rack-and-pinion steering
  • Hurst shift linkage
  • Four-wheel disc brakes
  • Unique front fascia
  • Unique hood with functional scoop
  • Front air dam with foglights
  • Aero headlights
  • Charcoal bodyside moldings
  • SVO rear and fender badges
  • Charcoal rocker panel moldings with spats
  • Dual-wing rear spoiler with third brake light
  • Modified taillight treatment
  • Unique C-pillar appliqus
  • Monotone charcoal interior
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Driver-side dead pedal
  • Sport seats with unique trim