Peter C. Sessler
February 10, 2006
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
A definite high point in Fox Mustang development was the '85 Mustang GT. The 5-liter V-8 was rated at 210 hp, which was accomplished with dual exhausts, stainless steel tube headers, a roller camshaft, and a new accessory drive system.

After 1980, the Mustang found itself in a squeeze--a strong recession, coupled with the rising cost of gasoline, were too much for the Mustang to handle. There was tremendous pressure to change the car to a front-wheel-drive platform, and Ford didn't have the resources to do so. It did the next best thing, at least from Ford's point of view. The car was slowly transformed from a "car for all" to a niche performance vehicle. By 1985, the trans-formation was complete.

The year 1985 was a pivotal one, indeed. The 5-liter V-8 picked up a solid 35 hp and was rated at 210 hp, which was accomplished with dual exhausts, stainless steel tube headers, a roller camshaft, and a new accessory drive system. The Mustang hadn't seen such a robust mill since the early '70s.

It was now Ford's hot performance car, and it was available as a Mustang GT or a Mustang LX. For those who wanted a Europeanized version, there was the Mustang SVO with its turbocharged four-cylinder.

Dual exhausts and the new 10-hole wheels are evident in this photo of an '85 Mustang GT.

From a collector's point of view, 1985 was important as it was another year of Mustang "firsts." It included the rejuvenated 5-liter V-8 and new 15x7-inch 10-hole wheels shod with Goodyear 225/60VR-15 Gatorback tires. In addition, the Mustang got a mild restyling up front. For restoration purposes, you can't go wrong with an '85 Mustang GT, especially with the T-top roof.

The same can be said of the LX/GT convertible. It had all the features of the hatchback, but lower production. For example, production figures show that only 35 5-liter Dark Sage cars were built, clearly a winner for those who like the uncommon--if you can find one.

The Mustang GT convertible proved to be a winner through the years. It was always popular among the faithful, and it is starting to show its strength as a collectible. This is an '86 GT.

At the same time, 1985 saw the emergence of the plain-Jane 5-liter LX as the "sleeper" of the notchback Fox-body Mustangs. From 1985 to 1993, this Pony proved to be the wolf in sheep's clothing, as it became the quickest of the herd. Ordering the V-8 engine automatically added all the GT suspension and other heavy-duty items, which resulted in virtually the fastest four-place car in America. Production was always low, and 1985 was no exception. The rarest LX was painted Dark Slate--only 31 were built.

The notchback 5.0 LX was also the car of choice of law-enforcement agencies. (They're referred to as "Special Service" cars under the "Colors" heading in the sidebars.) Through the '80s and '90s, production of the Police cars--as they are also called--was low.

This model year also saw the continuation of the Mustang SVO. Production was low--only 1,951 cars were built. Dark Sage again seemed to be the color of no choice, as only 32 were painted this hue. The SVO wasn't as popular as Ford wanted. It certainly had the power and handling, but it was priced way out of the market, some $4,000 more than a typical Mustang GT.

The 5.0 H.O. Mustang GT engine looked like this from 1986 to 1993.

The '86 models received three major mechanical modifications--a true H-pipe dual-exhaust system, a Sequential Electronic Fuel Injection (SEFI) system, and the 8.8-inch rear axle on the 5-liter cars. Except for mechanical changes made over the years to the engine (pistons, heads), the LX/GT Mustang remained unchanged until the Fox was retired in 1993.

This proved to be one of the high points in production (224,410). It was the highest output since 1980, and it still stands as the peak since then. The year 1986 was the last for the Mustang SVO, with 3,379 built. Of special interest were the two rare colors, Dark Sage (15) and Shadow Blue (71). Just as rare were the 6 Dark Sage LX 5.0 notchbacks, 6 Dark Slate LX 5.0 notchbacks, and 6 Dark Slate LX hatchbacks.