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HomeAutoHunterAutoHunter Spotlight: 1984 Ford Mustang SVO

AutoHunter Spotlight: 1984 Ford Mustang SVO

That time Ford decided to take on the Porsche 944

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Featured on AutoHunter, the online auction platform driven by ClassicCars.com, is this 1984 Ford Mustang SVO.

In the 1980s, performance was starting to be an attainable thing for car manufacturers. Gone were the days of the Corvette with only 160 horsepower, and the manufacturers were learning how to deal with emissions requirements while simultaneously building high performance cars. In addition, American manufacturers such as Ford were looking at what the Europeans were building, think the Porsche 944, and saw a market for a new kind of performance vehicle.

The Mustang SVO was the car that Ford decided would be a competitor to the Europeans, a car with strong, straight line performance and handling that would give buyers an option to own a true Ford sports car built in the USA.

The Mustang SVO, or Special Vehicle Operations, the department within the blue oval that designed the car, was a limited-production version of the Fox body Mustang sold from 1984 to 1986. Ford would build less that 10,000 Mustang SVOs making it, up to that point, the lowest production Fox body car.

The SVO department was led by Mike Kranefuss who had been the head of Ford’s International Motorsports division for 12 years. Kranefuss put together an engineering team for this Mustang led by Glen Lyall with Bob Negstad in charge of chassis development.

Ford had initially planned to launch the Mustang SVO as a 198212 model, but due to the temporary cancellation of Fox platform Mustangs, the introduction was delayed until 1983 where it was unveiled at a press event in California at Sears Point Raceway.

The biggest issue that faced the Mustang SVO was price. The 198412 Mustang SVO cost $15,585, which was $6,000 more that a base Mustang GT. People voted with their wallets, and by the end of 1986 the Mustang SVO was discontinued.

The 1984 Mustang SVO listed here is powered by its stock turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine and backed by its stock five-speed manual transmission. The car features power steering, power disc brakes, power windows and locks, and an AM/FM/cassette stereo. The car is painted in Black over a Charcoal cloth interior and it includes a clean CARFAX report along with a clear title.

The exterior of this Mustang SVO features fog lights, the SVO-specific hood scoop, bodyside moldings, and dual rear spoilers. The paint and trim looks to be in excellent condition with no major issues disclosed or seen in the many pictures provided.

This Mustang SVO also still rides on its stock 16-inch cast aluminum wheels that are unique to the SVO and wrapped in Goodyear radial tires. An interesting historical tidbit is that the Dearborn Assembly Plant had no machinery to mount and balance 16 inch wheels, so they had to develop new automatic machinery in order to prepare for these.

The interior of the car features what have to be the best seats ever put into a Mustang up to this point, the SVO-only front bucket seats. These front seats were manufactured by Lear/Siglar and have oversized side bolsters with pump up lumbar support. The car also features a folding rear seat. Both front and rear seats look to be upholstered in the cars original Charcoal cloth.

Interior features include power windows and locks, power steering, air conditioning, an AM/FM/cassette stereo, a tilt steering column, a leather wrapped SVO steering wheel, a center console-mounted manual transmission shifter, and a regular/premium fuel switch. Instruments include a federally mandated 85-mph speedometer as well as gauges for fuel level, turbo boost level, coolant temperature, and oil pressure. The odometer reads 90,404 miles, which the selling dealer reports to be accurate. Overall the interior looks like a nice survivor with no rips or tears evident in the photos.

The car also looks good under the hood with the stock fuel-injected, turbocharged, and intercooled 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine looking clean with no corrosion or rust seen in the pictures. When new the engine produced 175 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque which were strong numbers for the day, more power than the standard Porsche 944.

To me the Mustang SVO is probably the most interesting Ford production car of the entire decade of the 1980s. It was the first street car built by the Ford SVO group and more than delivered on its plan to provide true competition to the new round of sports cars coming out of Europe. Its only issue was that of price. Think of the Mustang SVO as a European Mustang and then it all makes sense. These cars are rare, fun to drive, and offer many unique bits that make them much more interesting than the Mustang GT of the era. Until recently they have been all but overlooked, but with events such as RADwood celebrating the 1980s and 90s eras of cars, they are becoming more popular and better understood. I think the timing is perfect to add one to your car collection.

The auction for this 1984 Ford Mustang SVO ends Monday, October 23, 2023, at 12:15 p.m. (PDT)

Visit the AutoHunter listing for more information and photo gallery

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Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

1 COMMENT

  1. I have always admired these SVO models as a real domestic attempt to compete with contemporary Euro sports cars. The Corvette is a whole ‘nother market and the Corvair was perhaps too good, yet quirky for Americans to really appreciate, (though Chevy sold 1.8 million of them).
    In today’s collector market, the Fox-body Mustangs generally appeal to someone looking for that OG hot rod experience on a budget. But just as in 1986, that desire usually entails a V8. A set of nice pipes for that low rumble, adding big HP on the cheap, simple, everyday driveability, etc. Yes, these will certainly appreciate as semi-rare collector cars, but the real market money will always follow the 5.0 GT, LX and even GLX.

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