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1984 Ford Mustang SVO – A Profile of the 1984 Ford Mustang SVO

Ford's Four-Cylinder Turbo Pony Ride


1984 Ford Mustang SVO – A Profile of the 1984 Ford Mustang SVO

1984 Ford Mustang SVO

Photo © Ford Motor Company

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The 1980s were an interesting time for Ford. With Japanese vehicles increasing in popularity, Ford’s goal was to create engines that were smaller, yet more powerful in design. Enter Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) team. Founded in 1981, the SVO team was formed to assist Ford with its motorsports programs and to create cutting-edge technology that would be highlighted in special-edition Mustangs. The team’s first production Mustang was the 1984 SVO hatchback. The car, a modified Turbo GT, was a mid-year release, making its way to dealerships in April of 1984.

Turbo Performance

This 4-cylinder turbo SVO Mustang, which weighed in at 2,881 lbs., was powered by a 2.3L turbocharged fuel-injected engine. Ford touted the car in ads as “Built for Driving Enthusiasts by Driving Enthusiasts”. In all, the car could produce 175 hp at 4,400 rpm, which was pretty impressive for the day. In fact, according to reports, the 1984 SVO had a top speed of 134 mph and could do 0-60 mph in just 7.5 seconds. It could do the ¼ mile in 15.5 seconds.

Furthermore, it also featured an air-to-air intercooler which was the first ever to appear in a North American car. The cooler chilled air passing through which made for denser air and a more powerful turbocharger. The car also featured SVO engineer Bob Stelmaszczak’s electronic control to vary boost pressure. Its peak was 14 pounds per square inch. This resulted in a powerful turbocharger that, in addition to its impressive horsepower, could produce 210 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm. Power was transferred to the wheels using a Borg-Warner T-5 five-speed manual gearbox with special Hurst linkage driving to a 3.45 ratio Traction-Lok rear axle.

Improved Suspension and Braking Power

Ford pulled out all the stops when they designed the SVO. In addition to its improved turbocharger, the car featured special Koni gas-filled shock absorbers and struts with adjustable settings. Both front and back featured a cross-country setting as well as a competition setting. There was also a GT setting for the front only. The car also featured “Quadra-Shocks” which was an extra pair of shocks designed to decrease shaking in hard acceleration. Other suspension upgrades included a front antiroll bar which was 1.20 inches thick and a 0.67-inch rear bar designed to reduce sway.

As for stopping power, the SVO featured four-wheel disk brakes. In the back you’d find 11.25-inch-diameter discs and in the front 10.92-inch discs. These were, by far, larger than those found on the standard Mustang. As such, stopping performance was improved. The car rode on P225/50VR-16 Goodyear NCT tires which were housed on 16x7 –inch 5-lug rims.

Inside and Out

Visually, the SVO was different than other Mustangs of the day. In addition to having a wider track, its front fascia, with no grille (a Mustang first), featured a small slot beneath the hood panel. It also featured rectangular single headlamps which were deeply recessed along with built-in fog lamps designed to reduce vehicle drag. Other features included a functional hood scoop and a bi-plane rear wing which increased downforce in the rear. Available exterior colors included: Black, Silver Metallic, Dark Charcoal Metallic, Red Metallic. Notably, the 1984 SVO featured black body trim.

On the inside the charcoal interior boasted adjustable Recaro style-bucket seats. There was also a switch which let the driver select premium or regular fuel depending on what was in the tank at the time. If you were running premium fuel and set the switch to premium, the ignition system adjusted appropriately for optimum performance. There was also a standard 8,000 RPM tachometer which could be viewed over the quick-ratio power steering wheel. The driver’s pedals were also modified to accommodate easy heel-to-toe shifting. There was also a dead pedal intended to improve driver stability in hard cornering.

As for options there were a few. Available options for the 1984 SVO Mustang included:

  • Air conditioning
  • Pop-up Sunroof
  • Leather Seat Trim
  • Power Windows
  • Power Door Locks
  • Cassette Player

Media Response vs. Public Appeal

In all, the Mustang SVO was well received by the media and those in the automotive industry. In fact, at the time some journalists said it was the best handling and most well balanced Mustang ever sold. In spite of the good press it received, the car was anything but affordable. With a price tag of around $15,585 the car was $6,000 - $7,000 more expensive than the V8 Mustang GT. As you can imagine, consumers weren’t as won over on Ford’s new performance 4-cylinder pony car.

That said, the car was a technological marvel in its day. True, it wasn’t designed for smoking burn outs. It was designed for all-around performance. There’s no doubt, the SVO Mustang was an impressive ride. It was fast, it drove like it was on rails, and it featured top-of-the-line technology. The car was also good on gas mileage. In fact, 24-26 mpg was the norm in everyday driving conditions.

Of the 141,480 Mustangs Ford produced in 1984, only 4,508 were SVO Mustangs. The following year, in 1985, production was limited even more so with only 1,954 units sold. In 1986, the last year of the SVO, sales picked up when folks found out the car was going away. Production that year reached 3,382 units. Ford had hoped to sell 10,000 of the cars in its first year. Unfortunately, the total run produced only 9,842 Mustangs in 2 ½ years. Today the cars are hard to come by, gracing the garages and driveways of the select few lucky enough to own one.

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