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36k Original Miles: 1985 Ford Mustang SVO

Necessity is the mother of invention. This was a philosophy that vehicle manufacturers had to embrace into the 1980s. Tightening emission law combined with oil shortages seemingly sounded the death knell for the beloved V8 engine. History shows that this death never occurred, but manufacturers experimented with various drivetrain combinations to inject some excitement into their offerings. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than with the 1985 Mustang SVO. Ford trod boldly, and after remaining largely unloved for many years, enthusiasts have now begun to embrace these classics. This 1985 model is a tidy example with a genuine 36,000 miles on the odometer. It is looking for a new home, so it has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. It is located in Flushing, Michigan, and has an asking price of $16,000. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Ikey H for spotting this classic Ford for us.

The Mustang is finished in Medium Charcoal, which was one of the colors that was exclusively available on the SVO. It presents nicely, although the color itself might be beginning to develop some of the patchiness that can be an issue with this color. However, that could also be a trick of the light because this is a shade that is hard to capture well on camera. The panels are extremely straight, with no signs of dings or dents. There is no evidence of rust, and the owner does claim that it is rust-free. All of the unique SVO features are intact, including the hood and rear spoiler. Being a 1985½ model, it is the first to feature the distinctive “aero” headlamps. Also present are the original alloy wheels, and these appear to be flawless.

It’s a crying shame that the owner doesn’t include any engine photos in the listing because it is what is hiding under the hood that makes this car so special. With V8s suffering so severely, Ford chose to follow the forced-induction path with the SVO. This meant taking the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine that had seen service in the Mustang II and the Pinto and giving it a birthday. They added fuel injection, a turbocharger, and an intercooler. The result was that when it was released in 1984, the Mustang came with a respectable 175hp. However, that wasn’t the end of the story. The 1985½ model received some further upgrades, making it the most powerful of the SVOs. The little engine was pumping out 205hp, which found its way to the Traction-Lok rear end via a 5-speed manual transmission. Suspension, steering, and brakes all received an upgrade, with the stopping duties falling to 4-wheel discs. Overall performance was far better than most people expected, with the ¼-mile dispatched in 15 seconds. Not only doesn’t the owner supply any photos, but he doesn’t indicate how well the Mustang runs or drives. However, with only 36,000 miles on the clock, it should be in sound mechanical health if it has been appropriately maintained.

Occupants felt the love when they stepped aboard the SVO. Seats were upholstered in leather, with the fronts featuring pneumatically adjustable lumbar support. Air conditioning was standard, as were power windows, power locks, a Hurst shifter, and an AM/FM stereo with a cassette player. The interior of this car presents as well as you might expect in a classic with its claimed mileage. There is no evidence of any wear or issues with the upholstery or carpet and no signs of any deteriorating plastic trim. It looks neat and tidy and ready for a new owner to enjoy.

The Mustang SVO was built from 1984 until 1986, and a total of 9,835 vehicles rolled out of Ford showrooms in that time. The 1985½ cars are the rarest, with a mere 439 having been sold. This looks like a real beauty, but it is being offered at close to a premium price. It is possible to find them for under $10,000, but these are generally cars that will have a question mark hanging over their condition and history. There have also been a few low-mileage examples that have sold recently for figures in excess of $20,000. Reinforcing the long-overdue recognition that these classics are receiving, values have increased by a staggering 20% in the past 3-years. That means that there is the potential for these vehicles to become less affordable with each passing year. Would that be sufficient motivation for you to consider parking this one in your garage?


  1. Todd Zuercher

    Someday I’ll have one of these! This looks like a real nice example.

    Like 5
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Nice SVO. Like Adam says, these seem to have gathered some respect in the collector car world. And in line with other clean Fox Bodies, the prices are heading steadily north.

    Aside: would like to see more of the seller’s “personal collection” and the storage facility. From the lead photo, what a clean and sterile-looking environment.

    Like 5
  3. RussellS

    I used to own one. First new car I ever bought and loved it. If someone is looking for one in the PNW here’s another one in very nice shape. I was tempted, but no room.

    Like 2
  4. Chuck Schmitz

    I recently found the remains of an 04 SVO in a salvage yard. The only way I was able to identify it was the special 5 bolt wheels which were still there. All the rest of the SVO parts were gone. I wish I would have had use for the wheels.

    • Todd Zuercher

      There was no SVO in 04. They were made from 84-86.

      Like 1
  5. Jake8687 Member

    Had an 86. Fun Fox. Best handling of all stock Foxes. The 16″ wheels, 4 wheel disc brake and Hurst should have been standard on 5.0 GTs. I miss that Lima 4 with inconel valves.

    Like 3
  6. Philip Lepel

    Want a rarer turbo mustang ? Look for the 83.5 GT Turbo. With only 603 made and who know how many left. This little brother to the SVO had a less refined suspension and down 40hp. But still a hoot to drive. And was basically a one year build. Designated an 84 model. But important changes were made after August of 83 making 83 and 84 distinctive models .

  7. ace10

    There’s a bit of an interwebz trail on this one.
    Googling the VIN even found it being featured for discussion on BaT many years ago.
    Doesn’t look to have been driven in at least five years. Paint looks fine to me in other pictures out there.

    Like 2
  8. jerry z

    Drove one when I worked at a Ford dealership in ’85-’86. They had a white 85.5 in stock. It was fun pulling it out of the garsge and driving around the lot! Only could get into 2nd but when it hit 3K, hang on!

    Like 2
  9. Troy s

    One for the twisty turny crowd. There’s car enthusiasts of all types which is the way it ought to be, and in 1985 most new cars were a joke from a performance angle,, with a few exceptions like the Mustang SVO and 5.0 GT for example. It was really just starting, the new wave of factory performance cars that actually could get up, and it’s never let up since. Compared to the muscle car era of the sixties we’re still in “1969” so to speak, the final climatic hurrah of ’70 is fast approaching with a conclusion…just jawin’ about nothing.

    Like 1
  10. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Strikes me as being a lot of clumsy clutch usage to have worn through the rubber clutch pedal pad in so few miles,

    Two features on BaT, actually:

    When a car is sitting for this many years unsold…. Yea…..

  11. Roger h

    These mustangs are the only ones I can remember seeing that had 5 lug nuts on the wheels from this body style I remember they all had 4

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