Jim Smart
December 1, 2008
Photos By: The Mustang Monthly Archives
You have to love the '85 Mustang GT's mouthy grille, hood graphics, 15-inch aluminum wheels, Marchal driving lamps, and ground effects. Ford carried this look over to '86 with Sequential Electronic Fuel Injection (SEFI) underhood. These cars make great weekend fun cars and are priced to slide right into your garage if you can find one.

'82-'86: Mustang Comes Alive
The '82 Mustang GT was an awakening. Powerful advertising hinted that performance was back. Closer scrutiny revealed a warmed-up 5.0L V-8 with a 351W marine camshaft and a Motorcraft 2150 two-barrel carburetor. Not exciting by today's standards, it was great at a time when we had been convinced performance was long gone.

The '82 Mustang GT had cool ground effects borrowed from the Cobra parts bin, a four-speed, a Traction-Lok rearend, TRX wheels with Michelin radials, a rear deck spoiler, and European-style offset dual exhaust tips. Chevrolet responded with a warmed-over Z-28 Camaro that year. So did Pontiac with its Trans Am. The '82 Mustang GT signaled the beginning of a return to factory performance cars.

The '86 Mustang GT was a carryover from '85 except for the fuel-injected 5.0L High-Output V-8. It had less horsepower but more torque, which is what counts on the street. Fuel-injected Mustangs didn't get mass air metering until '88 (California only) and '89 (49-state). Mass air metering is what you want if you intend to install a hotter cam or aftermarket intake manifold.

In '83, we saw a more powerful Mustang GT, with four-barrel carburetion and the return of a Mustang convertible for the first time in a decade. These cars were terrific at a time when we badly needed to believe in the Mustang again.

Buy an '83 Mustang GT or GLX convertible because it's a low-mileage original or a pampered driver. Buy an '83 GLX or GT to enjoy as a weekend driver. As projects, '82-'83 Mustangs make poor investments unless you're itching to restore one. Buy one for the nostalgia or as a fountain of youth elixir.

Ford rolled a lot of improvements into the '85 Mustang GT, such as bolstered bucket seats with colorful piping, pod-style instrumentation, 15-inch aluminum wheels with Goodyear Gatorback radials, improved fast-burn cylinder heads for more power, roller tappets, Quadra-Shock rear suspension, World Class T5 transmission, and true dual exhausts. When we road-tested these cars 25 years ago, they were an exciting step forward because they were so much fun to drive. They were more powerful, handled better, and were more comfortable. At wide-open throttle, they held their own nicely, although the promised 225-horse 5.0L High-Output engine never materialized that year due to piston problems.

What makes the '85 Mustang GT a terrific buy is its status as the last carbureted Mustang, plus the features we mentioned that make this car a nice stand-alone ride. We'll take one of these anytime. The '85 Mustang GT is a great investment because it's the last high-performance Mustang that connects us with the Mustang's origins.

'84 20th Anniversary
In the spring of 1984, Ford's Dearborn assembly plant built 5,261 limited-edition 20th Anniversary Mustang GT hatchbacks and convertibles. Some buyers snapped them up and put them away as investments, thinking they would eventually take on the charm, magic, and value of '65-'73 classic Mustangs. That hasn't happened. Instead, these cars have been forgotten to the point where many people don't even know what they are today.

Resale values on these anniversary cars are surprisingly low, making them terrific bargains 25 years later. One recent example is a pampered '84 20th Anniversary GT Turbo convertible (just 104 made) that recently sold for under $9,000 in southern California. It took the seller months to find a buyer.

We know there are a few of these cars tucked away with low mileage waiting for the market to turn around. Expect to see a crop of low-mileage, showroom-original examples as sellers give up and sell for what they can get. If you can buy one of these cars at or below original window sticker, you're getting a great bargain. Soon you will be able to order a Marti Report on these cars from Marti Auto Works, which will enable you to know the original selling dealer and all those important specifics.

'84-'86 SVO
The Mustang SVO is one of the best-kept Mustang secrets ever because most people don't know what they are today. It's on a par with classic Shelbys and Bosses because so few of them were produced for a short period of time. However, keep in mind that collectibility also hinges on how many people actually wish to own one.