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68K Original Miles: 1985 Ford Mustang SVO

Should we consider the Ford Mustang SVO to be a performance car, or merely an attempt to make a more economical sporting car? Those are two very different definitions of what this car could be, as some might say that Ford’s embrace of turbocharged technology was done more to survive an era wherein muscle cars fell out of favor. The SVO has always had a presence in the enthusiast car world but has never necessarily been the go-to collector car – will that eventually change? The seller of this 1985 model listed here on eBay certainly seems to think so.

Bidding is currently far short of where it needs to be in order to go home with a new owner, with bids just barely over $2,300 and the Buy-It-Now sitting at $14,000. The seller’s listing is full of plaudits for this lesser-known Fox body variant, and he’s not wrong to point out the obvious selling points. The SVO’s most obvious curb appeal to me is its design cues taken straight out of 1980s tuner culture, with the bi-plane rear spoiler and the flat-faced alloy wheels, the latter of which were found on everything from the SVO to the Mercedes 190E to the Porsche 928.

Mileage is just under 70,000 so this SVO has been driven – but not excessively so. The interior is in good shape overall, with the awesome factory sport seats still showing plenty of healthy bolstering and the SVO-branded floor mats still presenting well. The three-spoke factory steering wheel is one of my favorites in domestic “performance” car and the Jalapeno Red paint appears to be consistent from the exterior panels to the door jams. The seller doesn’t mention A/C, so it’s unknown whether that still works.

The engine bay is stock and looks quite clean – but not to the point of being excessively detailed. I wish more cars presented like this under the hood, which is to say not dripping with Armor All but also not completely neglected, either. The seller claims it drives well, and it has been modified slightly with a Stinger 3-inch piped exhaust. It will never sound like a 5.0, but that’s not the point of this car – it’s another way to enjoy the performance of a Mustang, just with a much different recipe under the hood. Will it ever be a sought-after collector car? Time will tell.


  1. Harvey Harvey Member

    I could have had a V-8

    Like 11
    • Duke

      I have a 91 5.0. My brother had an 81 base 4 cylinder, so I’ve driven both extremes of the fox body. The 4 felt so much better for being lighter and better balanced. The SVO ads a little more power to that, so I have to think it would be a blast to drive.

      Like 10
    • Johnny Major

      The SVO was slightly slower (very slightly) than the GT from a dead start but quicker on the high end (would start pulling away about 90 MPH), handled much better than the GT and got about 28 miles to the gallon. The 1984 and 1985 models had a turbo lag but the 1986 didn’t.

      Like 14
      • MTBorst

        I’ve never seen a 4 banger did get any kind of mpg.. most under powered for OD on the highway. But I raved at the track against an svo and he was running mid 14’s ! I don’t think the 5.0 did that good

        Like 0
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Looks like a well-kept SVO in good condition.

    Like 9
  3. Mike Hawke

    Performance car…by standards of the time

    Like 7
  4. Robert Atkinson, Jr.

    Other than a headlight retrofit, I’d keep it bone stock. The ’86 models got the flush headlamps with H4 bulbs in place of the sealed beams on this model year, so they were brighter than the stock sealed beams, at least until the plastic headlights clouded over, LOL!

    Like 3
  5. Ed B

    Am I wrong to think this is a $10k car, at absolute best? While it obviously has been well taken care of, 70k miles is 70k miles, and model rarity does not always translate to value. This seems priced to move to someone for whom it is their dream car, not the average buyer.
    NOTE: not trolling here. I’d be grateful for anyone who can, not necessarily justify the BIN price, but help be to be better informed about why this car might command that figure.

    Like 2
  6. Troy

    The Evil bay add wants you to buy the history report yourself so you can’t see if this car spent its whole life in rusty Pennsylvania or not, 5 digit odometer I have seen many cars be really clean and still have over 100k miles on them definitely inspect in person and come to your own conclusion if its worth that kind of money to you.

    Like 1
  7. Bob Wallace

    Looks like a nice example. I had a couple of them (both ’86s), a fairly high mile semi-beater and a one-prior owner (silver, leather, A/C and best audio, and factory (special order) body color single wing. Liked them both — a lot. They’re peaky, either a gutless N/A 2.3L or full boost all at once. Last I heard parts (trim, soft parts, some mechanical bits) were still very hard to come by and there wasn’t much of a support network. And a word of advice — all SVOs (’84, ’84, 85 1/2 and ’86 had the 7.5 (ring & pinion) rear end, which is weak (the one in my stock, modest miles ’86 broke the ring & pinion gears during street driving and not wide-open-throttle (swapped in a new 8.8 assembly with 3.73:1 from Ford Motorsports/Ford Racing Parts, bolted right in place, same springs/shocks/driveshaft & all suspension bits. But they’re lots of fun!

    Like 2
  8. Jake8687

    I miss my 86 SVO. Was a well balanced car for the day. Aside from minor nit picks like the cigarette burns in back seat, a very nice clean machine. The 85.5 would be the grail of SVOs.

    Like 2
  9. Jake8687

    I miss my 86 SVO. Was a well balanced car for the day. Aside from minor nit picks like the cigarette burns in back seat, a very nice clean machine. The 85.5 would be the grail of SVOs.

    Like 0
  10. Philip Lepel

    The SVO was the car I was looking for when I wanted to get into collector cars. Cheap( at the time) and plentiful because most American drivers didn’t understand what they were. Basically an American attempt at a European rally car of the era. That’s how I found my GT Turbo the SVO’s little brother (145hp vs the SVO 195hp.) These cars both are a hoot to drive with a better weight to power balance. With suspension up grades ( bigger anti roll bars, urethane bushings, shocks and springs) they can take even better advantage of that power to weight ratio. But these engines have incredibly strong bottom ends and can be built like any v8 engine to modern day levels. Mine is currently making 340bhp. and I love it. 27mpg if you stay off the boost and keeping it on the boil and avoiding the boost lag means knowing how to ride the power
    curve. I’ve had mine 30 years and have learned its temperment. Will he get $14K Sure from someone who knows what they are buying. The SVO was obviously 30 years ahead of its time considering the new ecoboost Mustangs. Its worth owning as a bookend to a newer Mustang or just as footnote to Ford Mustang history!

    Like 4
  11. Greg

    I’ve always been fun of these cars. Was the Mustang pace car an SVO? Small on performance but they surely looked good.

    Like 0
  12. Dale

    I’m surprised BarnFinds would post a listing from a high-volume Classic Car Dealer like this, considering there are dozens of them with 100+ car inventories, and asking prices that are often double actual market value!

    Like 0
  13. Tricky Dick

    I had an 87 SVO and a 91 GT. The SVO handled miles better than the GT. Just so much more balanced. Added a Turbonetics, wastegate, controller, meth injection, and the mother of all mods – the Volvo 4V head swap. Made 525 at the wheels on 21lbs. Ended up selling it to my cousin but I really wanted to swap a IDR rear end into it out of a 03 cobra. Never got finished and sold the project unfortunately. Cousin swapped a 9″ into it and called it a day. Probably would have made a really awesome circuit car with an indi rear. Definitely got a soft spot for these.

    Like 1
    • Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      A man after my own heart! I’ve never heard of swapping out the heads from a Volvo onto a Ford motor, though! Just how do you do that? It’s certainly cheaper than dropping in an Ecoboost crate motor!

      Like 0
  14. C Force

    This has certain goodies that the GT or LX models just didn’t have.The most obvious is 5 lug wheels,but other things you don’t see like better suspension which made them better handling and more nimble.I would prefer one of these over a GT model…..This one is in great shape and $14k might be a good price,haven’t seen one of these in several years on the streets…

    Like 0

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