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.

1985
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.

1986
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.

The LX used the pre-'87 rear spoiler and 10-hole "phone dial" wheels. In 1991, the LX could be fitted with the GT's five-spoke 16x7 wheels. This is an '88.

1987-1990
Just as 1986 was the last year for any major mechanical changes, 1987 was the last year for major styling changes for the Fox Mustang. The GT got a more radical face-lift, and the side ground-effects skirt package gave the car a lower appearance. In the rear, the louvered taillights and new rear spoiler were the most noticeable.

The old GT spoiler was relegated for use on the LX, as were the old GT (10-hole) wheels. A 16-spoke wheel became standard equipment on the '87-'90 Mustang GT.

In 1987, the Mustang GT received a new horsepower rating (advertised at 225). In 1993, however, Ford decided to rate the engine retroactively downward to 205 hp due to a change in its rating system and slight mechanical changes to the vehicles that were said to sap horsepower.

Mechanically identical to a GT, the LX was more sedate-looking. It was also lighter and quicker.

The '87-'90 Mustang GTs became virtually identical, but Ford built the car, and people bought it. One special model, however, was made during this period--the '90 Limited Edition LX convertible. It came in Emerald Green with a white top and white leather interior with Sport seats. The Emerald Green paint extended to the body-side moldings and dual remote outside mirrors. They're known as the 7-Up cars. The 7-Up Bottling Company planned to give away 30 of them at the '90 NCAA basketball finals; it never did, but the name stuck. A total of 4,103 cars were built--1,360 five-speeds and 2,743 automatics.

The 1990 color production chart shows 4,106 Emerald Green convertibles were made, making it the most popular color by far. Medium Red, Medium Titanium, and Titanium Frost were all produced in single digits. Which model is more desirable? The Emerald Green cars, of course.

You're more likely to find a Mustang like this '90 Limited Edition in pristine condition. They were generally well kept because the original buyers often speculated they were getting a collectible Mustang.

1991-1993
The '91-'93 Mustang GTs got new 16x7 five-spoke aluminum wheels, which made it possible to identify them from the '87-'90 GTs.

There were several Limited Edition (or Feature) cars in this period. The '921/2 Limited Edition, also known as a Summer Special, was an LX convertible painted Vibrant Red with white wheels. It was the first Mustang convertible to have a rear spoiler, and also the first with a black Lori cloth headliner. A total of 2,019 units were built.

Two more Limited Edition cars were built in 1993. Similar to the '921/2 Vibrant Red car, they were painted Chrome Yellow and Vibrant White. The Chrome Yellow car had chromed 16x7 five-spoke aluminum wheels. The top color choice was limited to white or black with the Chrome Yellow, and white with the Vibrant White. A total of 1,500 Vibrant White cars and 1,503 Chrome Yellow cars were built.

The notchback Mustangs were popular with the troopers. From a collector's point of view, these cars require more restoration than other Mustangs because they were usually driven hard and rolled up a ton of mileage. This is a restored '89.

The SVT Mustang Cobra was the final special for 1993. It was the first ponycar from Ford's new Special Vehicle Team, and the precursor of some interesting and powerful Mustangs to come. The '93 Cobra's engine was rated at 235 hp, and it had better suspension components, larger wheels and tires, and a cleaned-up exterior. A total of 4,993 Cobras were built.

In addition, 107 Cobra "R" models were built. Like the old '65 Shelby GT350R, the R-model Cobra was supposed to be used in competition. Among other things, it featured a firmer suspension and an interior that lacked A/C, power windows, power door locks, a stereo system, and rear seats.

For 1994, the Fox Mustang got a newly restyled exterior and interior, but it was still based on the tried-and-true Fox chassis. It was referred to as the Fox-4 in Ford press materials. This vehicle lasted through the '04 model year. By then, the Mustang Cobra had an independent rear suspension and a supercharged V-8 engine that was conserva-tively rated at 390 hp, almost double what the old Mustang GT had.

Clearly, the Fox chassis served Ford and the Mustang well.

Photo Gallery

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Fox Colors 1985
LX 5.0 LX 5.0/GT LX 5.0/GT SVO
Sedan Convertible Hatchback Hatchback
P26M P27M P28M P28T
1B Medium Charcoal 213 727 5,791 334
1C Black 370 1,331 10,097 539
1E Silver 140 426 3,686 146
2A Medium Canyon Red 188 710 4,716 220
2R Jalapeno Red 148 1,324 6,105 348
3L Dark Blue 210 207 294 -
3V Light Regatta Blue 164 464 2,638 -
4E Dark Sage 37 35 36 32
4M Dark Slate 31 - 29 -
8L Sand Beige 62 43 81 -
8Y Dark Sable 55 - 79 -
9L Oxford White 330 1,722 5,908 332
Special Service 316 - - -
TOTAL 2,284 6,989 39,460 1,951

Fox Colors 1986
LX 5.0 LX 5.0/GT LX 5.0/GT SVO
Sedan Convertible Hatchback Hatchback
P26M P27M P28M P28T
1C Black 544 2,455 10,895 1,053
1D Smoke 274 1,000 6,046 390
1E Silver Metallic 169 611 3,683 224
2A Medium Canyon Red 216 1,119 5,125 384
2R Jalapeno Red 284 2,770 8,108 681
3J Light Regatta Blue 115 384 2,408 -
4E Dark Sage 6 45 78 15
4M Dark Slate Metallic 6 - 6 -
7B Shadow Blue 254 176 244 71
8L Sand Beige 16 47 34 -
8Y Dark Sable 24 - 22 -
9L Oxford White 502 2,658 6,367 561
Special Service 415 - - -
TOTAL 2,825 11,265 43,016 3,379

Fox Colors 1987
LX 5.0 LX 5.0 LX 5.0 GT GT
Sedan Hatchback Convertible Hatchback Convertible
P40E P41E P44E P42E P45E
1C Black 62 2,317 281 9,292 2,211
1D Smoke Poly 421 1,100 116 4,526 576
1K Smoke 140 224 32 1,268 206
2D Medium Scarlet 642 1,545 435 7,462 2,331
2H Medium Cabernet 352 878 151 3,644 713
3R Medium Shadow Blue 277 734 130 - -
6H Jonquil 94 156 68 - -
7B Shadow Blue 371 941 116 4,065 674
7H Bright Regatta Blue 108 229 48 - 164
8L Sand Beige 47 79 36 - -
8Y Dark Sable 45 68 27 - -
9L Oxford White 786 1,371 633 6,799 3,576
Special Service 643 - - - -
TOTAL 4,888 9,642 2,073 37,056 10,451

Fox Colors 1988
LX 5.0 LX 5.0 LX 5.0 GT GT
Sedan Hatchback Convertible Hatchback Convertible
P40E P41E P44E P42E P45E
66 Tropical Yellow 46 127 120 - -
1C Black 1,552 3,832 768 12,017 3,791
1D Smoke Poly 452 1,629 277 5,075 902
1K Smoke 224 246 97 1,549 438
2D Medium Scarlet 648 2,391 1,008 8,642 4,043
2H Medium Cabernet 395 1,780 422 5,611 1,641
3R Medium Shadow Blue 253 881 233 - -
6L Dark Sable 28 41 45 - -
7H Bright Regatta Blue 313 1,322 353 3,806 1,096
7N Dark Shadow Blue 426 1,600 315 5,281 1,676
8L Sand Beige 23 95 74 - -
9L Oxford White 829 2,387 1,476 8,301 4,571
Special Service 379 - - - -
TOTAL 5,568 16,331 5,188 50,282 18,158

Fox Colors 1989
LX 5.0 LX 5.0 LX 5.0 GT GT
Sedan Hatchback Convertible Hatchback Convertible
P40E P41E P44E P42E P45E
21 Bright Red 409 1,249 368 2,516 1,345
66 Tropical Yellow 67 126 163 9,656 3,958
1C Black 2,174 5,356 1,563 2,598 809
1D Dark Grey Metallic 842 2,025 485 1,220 470
1K Light Grey 312 525 434 - -
2D Medium Scarlet 718 2,032 1,207 3,738 2,070
2H Cabernet Red 899 2,734 1,499 4,655 2,307
3R Medium Shadow Blue 575 1,107 408 - -
6V Almond 137 236 127 - -
7H Bright Regatta Blue 687 1,799 626 2,824 1,090
7N Deep Shadow Blue 938 2,168 554 3,162 1,237
9L Oxford White 1,996 5,377 3,141 9,762 6,131
Special Service 776 - - - -
Total 10,528 24,734 10,575 40,231 19,417

Photo Gallery

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Fox Colors 1990
LX 5.0 LX 5.0 LX 5.0 GT GT
Sedan Hatchback Convertible Hatchback Convertible
P41E P41F P44E P42E P45E
EH Medium Cabernet 309 790 286 1,556 533
EL Wild Strawberry 734 2,315 516 3,177 856
EM Medium Red 6 14 5 54 15
EP Vermillion 1,158 3,154 1,330 6,358 2,808
KA Crystal Blue 12 - - - -
MA Light Crystal Blue 434 478 210 - -
MK Twilight Blue 610 1,576 311 1,924 529
MM Ultra Blue 7 - - - 768
PA Deep Emerald Jewel Green 6 31 4,106 67 9
Y0 Oxford White 1,256 3,039 1,708 7,110 3,587
YC Black 1,565 3,359 669 6,776 2,271
YF Light Dark Titanium 463 1,460 303 1,789 491
YG Medium Titanium 7 35 4 35 9
YU Dark Titanium 421 1,102 238 1,443 332
YX Titanium Frost 8 44 6 53 16
Special Service 921 - - - -
Total 7,905 17,409 9,692 33,639 12,252

Fox Colors 1991
LX 5.0 LX 5.0 LX 5.0 GT GT
Sedan Hatchback Convertible Hatchback Convertible
P41E P41F P44E P42E P45E
EL Wild Strawberry 622 1,141 556 2,135 544
EM Medium Red 454 650 427 1,401 360
EP Bright Red 1,004 2,105 1,983 4,524 2,066
K3 Bimini Blue 106 379 67 - -
KA Light Crystal Blue 100 349 65 - -
MK Twilight Blue 420 867 219 916 212
PA Deep Emerald Jewel Green 584 1,266 423 2,311 592
PM Bright Calypso 159 522 122 1,799 555
UA Ebony 681 1,270 308 2,432 1,128
Y0 Oxford White 1,496 2,018 2,616 5,137 2,327
YC Black 240 508 115 1,027 300
YG Medium Titanium 491 693 457 1,348 344
YX Titanium Frost 557 929 492 1,647 424
Special Service 385 - - - -
TOTAL 7,299 2,717 7,850 24,677 8,852

Fox Colors 1992
LX 5.0 LX 5.0 LX 5.0 GT GT
Sedan Hatchback Convertible Hatchback Convertible
P41E P41F P44E P42E P45E
EL Wild Strawberry 310 638 327 906 266
EM Medium Red - - - 167 54
EP Vermillion 637 1,293 1,086 2,788 1,481
EY Performance Red - - 2,193 - -
K3 Bimini Blue 291 661 268 - -
MK Twilight Blue 231 337 90 565 161
MM Ultra Blue 2 - - 1,081 228
PA Deep Emerald Jewel Green 843 1,644 518 2,222 729
PM Bright Calypso Green 449 1,121 646 - -
UA Black 961 1,392 261 2,985 1,258
Y0 Oxford White 651 910 978 2,477 1,366
YG Medium Titanium 176 259 98 327 100
YX Titanium Frost 253 416 141 547 180
Special Service 542 - - - -
TOTAL 5,346 8,671 6,606 4,065 5,823

Fox Colors 1993
LX 5.0 LX 5.0 LX 5.0 GT GT Cobra
Sedan Hatchback Convertible Hatchback Convertible Hatchback
P41E P41F P44E P42E P45E P42D
BZ Chrome Yellow - - 1,503 - - -
EG Electric Red 702 1,252 459 1,331 420 -
EP Vermillion 910 1,439 601 2,239 1,277 -
ES Vibrant Red - - - 549 221 1,881
EY Performance Red - - - 576 197 9
KF Bright Lapis - - - 840 245 -
LA Royal Blue 371 513 132 500 233 -
PD Reef Blue 1,177 1,802 561 2,065 671 -
PM Bright Calypso Green 519 885 361 - - -
UA Black 1,568 1,915 424 3,405 1,656 1,854
RD Teal - - - - - 1,355
WB Vibrant White 906 1,226 2,157 2,529 1,438 -
YN Silver 354 344 184 425 177 -
Special Service 628 - - - - -
TOTAL 7,135 9,376 6,382 14,459 6,535 5,099