Jim Smart
June 1, 2008

Mike Roate will never forget 1984, the year he bought his Medium Canyon Red Glow GT convertible. After years of dishwater-dull Mustang performance, the '84 GT was a refreshing step in the right direction as Mike drove off North Central Ford's lot in Dallas. The top went down. It had the throaty bark of a V-8 engine and handled like it was on rails. Mike had a ball with his convertible for 11 years but sold it in 1995 to get his wife started in college. He wasn't thinking about his '84 becoming a classic one day. After selling it, however, he couldn't stop thinking about his old Mustang convertible.

Nine years later, in 2004, Mike set out to find his '84 GT convertible. He attended the Mustang Club of America's Grand National to search for the car, with no luck. One day, while sifting through papers, Mike unearthed the bill of sale from 1995 with the buyer's name and contact information. On a lark, he called to see if the buyer still had the car. "Yeah, you want it back?" was the reply.

Turns out, the GT had been driven just 3,000 miles, then put in storage in 1996. Mike wrote a check and drove his Mustang home for the second time.

Eight years of storage resulted in deterioration, so the car needed work. Gaskets and seals had hardened and the tires were dry-rotted. Mike's efforts would follow a long road back to glory. First, there was tornado damage, which reminded Mike of the time he took the car to his Ford dealer for troubleshooting in 1986. The mechanic smacked a pole while horsing around with the car. To add insult to injury, the dealer did a terrible job of repairing the damage.

Since buying back his Mustang, Mike has performed a restoration in segments. First, he wanted it aesthetically pleasing; he accomplished that goal. Then it needed to be mechanically sound and look good when the hood was open. He met that goal, too. The greatest challenge for Mike was parts. He had to rely on new-old-stock and what few reproduction items were available.

Like those with a passion for '65-'73 Mustangs, there are also people like Mike who remember a newer generation of Mustangs. The Mustang convertible had been in hiatus since 1973, returning in 1983. As much as we take the Mustang convertible for granted today, it was unique and exciting when it returned to Ford showrooms in the early '80s.

For its time, the '84 Mustang GT was a nice step up from those choked paint-and-tape specials from the late '70s. With the five-speed transmission, the 5.0L High Output V-8 produced 175 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque from a low-rise aluminum manifold, a 600-cfm Holley carburetor, iron exhaust manifolds, a dual-snorkel air cleaner, and single exhaust with side-by-side dual tips (although Mike has switched to a true dual exhaust system).

Believe it or not, the five-speed was novel in 1984, having been introduced in the Mustang toward the end of the '83 model year. Overdrive took some getting used to because we weren't accustomed to the engine revving at only 2,000 rpm at 70 mph. The national speed limit was 55 mph in those days, so the speedometers were marked at 55 to remind us. What's more, "Unleaded Fuel Only" was printed on the fuel gauge.

Mike's Mustang GT has 3.08:1 Traction-Lok gears in a 7.5-inch integral carrier rearend with dinky drum brakes at both ends. Back then, Mustang GT underpinnings were modest by today's standards. Power front disc brakes were small compared with what Ford is offering on Mustangs in 2008. Mike's Mustang has the optional TRX wheels with Michelin radial tires, which are hard to come by today.

Pod-style instrumentation gave the '84 Mustang GT a high-tech aero look borrowed from a Boeing flight deck. Bucket seats with side bolsters didn't happen until the following year. To honk the horn in an '84 Mustang, you had to tap the turn signal lever. The horn returned to the steering wheel the following year.

They say '82-'93 Mustang GTs struggle to find buyers these days (which makes them the best Mustang value going). They were, however, exciting cars that paved the way to more terrific Mustangs to come, which makes the '84 GT a nice collectible.

In 1984, performance was back. Gasoline was cheap and abundant. The economy was beginning to hum. And you could again put the top down. There was just nothing else like it-just ask Mike.

84 Mustang Production
Total Mustang GT Hatchbacks26,658
Total Mustang GT Convertibles6,256
Total Mustang SVOs4,508
Total Standard Mustangs104,058
Total Production141,480