The 1984 Mustang SVO was the first product from Ford’s newly launched “Special Vehicle Operations” (Ford’s racing division). With buyer interest shifting toward economical Japanese cars, and with new CAFE mpg mandates being implemented, SVO chose to go the route of a small turbo 4 cylinder powerplant
They started with the OHC 2.3L from the Pinto/Mustang II, and added forged aluminum pistons, high temperature valves, an oil cooler, a tuned intake manifold, and most importantly: a computer controlled turbocharger with variable boost control and an air-to-air intercooler
Most turbo systems of the time would mechanically reach boost immediately (like an on/off switch). This forced carmakers to limit boost to around 10 psi in attempt to avoid engine damage at low RPM. The SVO’s system, however, limits boost at low RPM and provides infinitely variable boost as the RPM’s rise. This is an early form of variable boost control
Early cars saw up to 14 lbs of boost (later cars saw 15 lbs). This was the highest amount of boost for any production engine at the time. For safety, Ford included an overboost warning buzzer in the dash
The result is that the 4 cyl SVO put out identical power numbers to the 5.0 V8 GT of the same year. However, SVO’s development goals put emphasis on handling, not horsepower. This meant the lighter 4 cyl engine sat behind the front axle, allowing the SVO to have a superior weight distribution than the 5.0 GT. Factory curb weight (no options) was quoted under 3,000 lbs, and a bi-plane polycarbonate rear wing provided the required downforce
SVO cars built after Dec ’83 came with 6 shock absorbers from the factory. 4 of them (Koni) are at each corner, while two additional shocks act as traction bars mounted horizontally between the ends of the rear axle and the frame to keep the rear planted during aggressive acceleration/deceleration. Prior to December ’83, steel traction bars were used instead of shocks
The SVO’s large brakes came from the bigger Lincolns of the time. In addition, Ford decided to include the large brake pedal from the automatic transmission models in an effort to simplify heel/toe shifting
The amount of development work that went into the electronic turbo system, the ECU’s advanced EEC-IV microprocessor, and the handling R&D contributed to the $6,000 premium over a standard V8 GT
Key Model Year Changes:
First year of the SVO, which was only produced between 1984 and 1986
Model changes occurred both at the beginning and the middle of the ’85 model year, dividing production between early cars (pre-April 1985) and the later cars (post April ’85). April was essentially the mid-cycle refresh
Compared to the ’84 models, the ’85 cars received a new 3.73 ring and pinion (vs 3.45) and updated transmission ratios to match the new axle ratio. Rack and pinion ratio changed to 15:1 (from the high effort 20:1 ratio). The separate amp switch for the Premium Sound was deleted, and exterior trim color was changed from black to charcoal gray. Shocks on ’85 models were preset to the firmer “cross country” setting, vs the softer “city ride” setting on ’84 cars. Rear spring rates were increased as well
The 1985.5 cars saw a power bump to 205hp/240 lb ft torque. This was thanks to an increase in boost pressure to 15 PSI, updated intake manifold, and a water cooled turbo with a smaller turbine for quicker spool up. Injectors were enlarged to 35lbs per hour (vs 30), the computer’s processor was updated, and the new exhaust featured dual mufflers and tail pipes
1985.5 also saw new “aero” headlights that were now flush to the body. These headlights were originally meant for the ’84 model, but federal regulations postponed them until the mid-1985 update
In 1986, the HP rating was reduced to 200HP due to lower octane fuel. A 3rd brake light was added to the lower plane of the wing to meet federal mandates, and chrome SVO badges were installed on the front fenders
The SVO stopped production in ’86 as it was thought the fox body would be replaced by what we now know as the Probe
*SAE rated from factory. May not reflect current output.
*Performance numbers pulled from either the factory brochure or reputable automotive road tests.
*Base price when new does not reflect original MSRP of this particular car, nor does it reflect what the original owner paid for it.
*Advertised price at time of posting. Sellers can raise or lower prices on their original ad at any time. Click on the original ad to view current price/availability.
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