1983 Ford Mustang Convertible

I was driving westbound on the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia this morning and saw a Fox Mustang convertible (red exterior, black top). A good enough reason to write a blog entry about these attractive cars.

“It’s not just a convertible … it’s a Mustang.”

For 1983, the big news for the Ford Mustang was the return of the convertible for the first time since the 1973 model year. Introduced on November 5th, 1982, the convertible was available only in the luxury GLX trim and the performance GT trim—lower end L and GL trims remained with the notchback coupe (L and GL) and the hatchback coupe (GL). The GLX was also available only with V-6 and V-8 engines (no inline 4—turbo or not—would sully the droptop experience).

The V-6 engine choice for the GLX was the 112 bhp Essex 3.8 liter with two-barrel carburetor. Optional on the GLX ($595 additional) and standard on the GT was (of course) the 175 bhp Windsor 4.9 liter V-8 with four-barrel carburetor.

Starting at $9,449 (about $22,500 in today’s dollars) and rising significantly during the middle of the model year to a non-trivial $12,467 (about $29,600 in 2015 funds, which is almost exactly what a 2015 Mustang V6 starts at), the GLX did come fairly well equipped. Standard external and mechanical features included power front disc brakes, tinted glass, and an automatic transmission. Standard interior equipment included light group and AM radio.

The GT version of the convertible listed for $13,479 (about $32,000 in 2015 dollars). Standard external and mechanical features included power front disc brakes, power steering, rear spoiler, and a five-speed manual transmission. Standard interior equipment included an AM radio.

The Mustang option list was long. Inside, air conditioning ($724), speed control ($170), power locks ($160), tilt steering wheel ($105), and AM/FM stereo radio with cassette player ($199) were all available.

All 1983 Mustang convertibles came with a power top and all windows rolled down—an emphasis Ford frequently made in reference to the Chrysler K car convertibles.

Page from the 1983 Ford Mustang brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

The 1983 Ford Mustang convertible sold fairly well considering its expense (the GT convertible stickered for 45% more than the GT hatchback). For that year, it probably saved total Mustang sales from dropping below 100,000—helping hold that off until 1991. Between 1983 and 1993, Ford would sell over a quarter of a million of the pony car convertibles.

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There is strong club support for the 1983 Mustang, as there is for all Mustangs except the mid-seventies Mustang IIs. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1983 Mustang GT convertible in #1 condition is $17,800, with a more normal number #3 condition car going for $6,700. 1983 Mustangs often show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds—as I write this in February 2015, there’s a well equipped red V-6 GLX with a black top and a black vinyl interior with 11,000 miles available for $10,000.

Make mine Medium Red, please.

1984 Ford Mustang SVO

Yesterday’s Hemmings Daily blog had an entry on the Mustang SVO, titled “Was this America’s most misunderstood sports car?” I’ve updated on of my early posts to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“Sophisticated performance for the knowledgeable driver.”

With the announcement of the 2015 Mustang and its available EcoBoost turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine, my mind turned back to the 1984 to 1986 Mustang SVO.

Created by Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations department, the SVO was an admirable attempt to take a different and more advanced approach to the pony car market. This version of the Fox-body Mustang was built around the Lima turbocharged and fuel injected 2.3 liter inline 4 cylinder engine making 175 bhp paired with a Borg-Warner T5 five-speed manual transmission. By the standards of the day, this combination yielded a reasonable 19 city/26 highway (it would be 17/24  by current standards) and a respectable 7.5 second 0-60 time.

Other modifications over the standard Mustang included ventilated 4-wheel power disc brakes (replacing the Mustang GT’s disc/drum setup), and a Koni suspension system featuring adjustable struts and shocks. 16 × 7 inch aluminum wheels with 225/50VR16 Goodyear NCT tires were standard for the first year—Gatorbacks didn’t become available until 1985.

You could have the interior in any color you wanted as long as that was Charcoal, but you did get to choose from the standard cloth or optional leather seats. Standard features included adjustable sport seats with lumbar support and a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel. Air conditioning ($743), a cassette player ($222), power door locks ($177), and power windows ($198) all remained optional—this was 1984, after all.

The exterior featured a SVO-specific front grille, a hood with a functional scoop, and a “dual wing” spoiler that was also unique to the SVO.

Mustang SVO page from the 1984 Mustang brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

With a base price of $15,596 (about $35,800 in 2014 dollars), sales did not come close to meeting Ford’s hopes—less than 10,000 buyers took home a Mustang SVO over its three years of production. The reasons for its relative failure where many, but I think the biggest problems were:

  • The average Mustang buyer was happier with a Mustang GT, which, with a base price of $9,578, cost substantially less.
  • The potential buyer of a vehicle with turbocharged and intercooled 4 cylinder engine, 4 wheel disc brakes, and an adjustable suspension wasn’t looking to Ford for this car.

It is interesting to note that Ford was much more successful in the 1990s and 2000s in selling high end Mustangs. We’ll see how they do with the 2.3 liter (there’s a coincidence!) 310 bhp EcoBoost turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine in 2015.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1984 Mustang SVO in #1 condition is $19,900. Make my SVO Silver Metallic, please.

1982 Ford Mustang GT

This was one of my early posts in this blog. I’ve updated it to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“If excitement is your master key, this one opens all the doors.”

The 1982 Ford Mustang GT marked the return to form of America’s definitive pony car and ignited a second round of the power wars with the then brand new third generation Camaro and Firebird. Along with the new GT trim level, the new high output (H.O.) version of the venerable 302 was up to 157 bhp—quite an upgrade from 1981’s 4.2 liter engine.

Mustang GT page from the 1982 Ford Mustang brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

157 bhp feels quaint in 2014 (the lowest horsepower engine for the 2015 Mustang is the 300 bhp 3.7 liter V6), but the 1981 Mustang had topped out at (oog…) 115 bhp and as tested 0-60 times in the 2,600 pound GT dropped by over 3 seconds for 1982.

You could get the H.O. engine with any Mustang, but the hot setup was with the GT, which offered a four-speed manual transmission and a 3.08:1 rear axle ratio with Traction-Lok limited slip differential. Other options that were standard with the $8,308 GT (about $20,500 in today’s dollars) with the 302 were power steering and traction bars. The GT also received cast aluminum wheels, dual fog lamps, a forward-facing hood scoop, and the same spoiler originally featured on the first-year for the Fox-body Mustang 1979 Pace Car.

Options for the Mustang GT included air conditioning ($676), snazzy Recaro high-back bucket seats ($834), power windows ($165), and an AM/FM stereo with either 8-track or cassette player ($178)—it seems that 1982 was Ford’s crossover year for 8-track versus cassette.

The Mustang GT shows up often in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds.  As I write this in August 2014, there are no 1982s, but there is a white 1985 with 28,000 miles on sale for $11,500. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1982 Ford Mustang GT in #1 condition is $14,700, with values sliding up.

I only have four exterior color choices with a 1982 Mustang GT – make mine Bright Red, please.