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Blue Plate Turbo: 1984 Ford Mustang SVO

Ah, the Ford Mustang SVO: a car I still yearn to own but have yet to have fallen into my lap at the right price. The SVO is the ultimate Mustang from the 1980s, in my opinion, aside from the incredible Saleens. The SVO was like every other import in this regard, relying on turbocharging, spoilers, and improved suspension components to build a better sports car. To me, the ultimate Fox-body is the later 5.0 cars from the early 90s; the 1980s belonged to the Mustang built with boost. This one is a California blue plate survivor, up for grabs after many years in the garage. Find it here on eBay with bidding at $4,150 and no reserve.

Seeing the old-school license plates with the original selling dealer plate frame is about as good of an indication as any that you’re dealing with a car that has led a sheltered life. The plate frame gets tossed the second it ends up in the hands of a local used car dealer, and certainly the original plates disappear when a second or third owner comes along. The seller claims he’s had this SVO in his garage for many years and has finally decided to sell it, and despite not seeing much use lately with mileage listed as being just 83,000, the car is said to still run and drive without any issues. The photos aren’t great so it’s hard to say for sure what kind of shape the paint is in, but it looks decent in the provided photos.

The same goes for the interior, which shows no indication of widespread sun damage despite residing in the land of sunshine and surfboards. The SVO came with some nice upgrades from the factory, including the tasty three-spoke steering wheel seen here. The sport bucket seats are in good shape as well, and the dashboard doesn’t show any cracks. The seller doesn’t share a whole lot of information about the car or its history, and details like whether the A/C still works aren’t addressed in the ad. The interior doesn’t even show much in the way of modifications, appearing to even have the original radio still installed.

The same goes for the backseat, which I doubt saw much use over the years. The SVO was a limited production model offered in two phases, with the nose panel being the easiest way to identify which phase you were dealing with. This model, with the exposed sealed beam headlights, is an earlier example with the lower power output, but the performance was still respectable for the era. If you wanted the more aerodynamic option, look for a later model with the “smooth” nose as opposed to the recessed headlamps this one has. Either way, clean condition, and no modifications is the way to go when shopping for an SVO.


  1. Kevin

    Having not seen these in the wild in forever, there sure are a lot of them popping up on this site and related ones. I remember when these came out which was a ballsy move for Ford at the time with the 5.0 the obvious choice for many. Ford’s efforts with these cars at the time is to be commended. IMO, the SVO Mustang has aged well. This one looks good for being almost 37 years old. I would go back to the 80s in a heartbeat with this one.

    Like 4
  2. Johnny Major

    I bought this EXACT car (1984 black/gray) new in 1985 in Houston. It sat on the dealers lot for over a year because the price point was much higher than a V8 GT, it was a head of it’s time and a great car.

    The car rode and handled extremely well for a 1984 model car and was very quick. It was one of the faster cars manufactured that year. The GT Mustang with the torque of a V8 was slightly faster from a dead stop but the SVO generally began pulling away at about 80/90 MPH’s. The ’84 model had a serious turbo lag that was eliminated with the final year 1986 models. There was less than 10,000 total ever manufactured in the three year (’84 – ’86). run

    Like 2
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    This is an interesting car to analyze with respect to its place in time. When it was being developed (1980-1981), I figure that Ford, along with all the manufacturers, wondered if the big V8 would ever return. So this became part of the plan of attack for performance vehicles. But by the time the SVO reached the market, things had changed, largely back to the way they were. But I assume the car was so far along that Ford went ahead and brought it to market, if nothing else to gauge response.

    But as Johnny Major notes, the high price held it back, despite it being a generally well-done piece of work (considering handling, interior upgrade, styling, wheel/tire package). It seems they haven’t caught on as much as other Fox Body Mustangs.

    It’s also interesting that four-cylinder turbo powerplants have become common. Even luxury vehicles have them. If you told that to a Ford powertrain engineer back in the day, I doubt they would have believed you.

    Like 1
  4. Philip Lepel

    Sadly this car could have been so much more. The simple addition of a double overhead cam can bring the 2.3 up to 225 hp. Which is what the 5.0 was producing and 25 more than the 84 corvette. But Ford chickened out. Its little brother the GT Turbo made 145 hp as much as the 82 chevy 5 liter and again Ford could have worked harder to convince Americans this was the future. Personally I love My GT Turbo. It’s every bit a European sports car. Lightweight, 5 speed and with the few handling upgrades I’ve added a great handling road car. Plus they’re so rare it always gets stares from the young tuners who see it as a car that was ahead of it’s time.

    Like 1
  5. CJinSD

    My preference when it comes to SVOs is to buy one that has been in storage most its life. With less than 10,000 miles, the seats, shocks and bushings tend to still be serviceable; provided the car has been indoors. Then all you need to do is pull the offending turbocharged engine in favor of the Windsor of your dreams while building a back axle with a strong differential and the SVO’s hubs and brakes. Fox Mustang perfection for less than the price of getting a typical GT into paint!

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