“Competition Prep” SVO: 1984 Ford Mustang SVO

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By 1980 the muscle car era seemed to be nothing more than a distant memory. Ever-tightening safety and emissions regulations had transformed many of the cars that remained from hairy-chested beasts, into vehicles that were considerably softer and slower. It was against this backdrop that Ford decided to follow a completely different tack, and after forming the Special Vehicle Operations Department, or SVO, their engineers went to work on trying to give the Mustang back some of the muscle that it had long been lacking. This Mustang SVO looks like it is in good condition, and is located in Flagler Beach, Florida. I really have to thank Barn Finder Pat L for spotting this classic for us. You will find the Mustang listed for sale here on Craigslist, where it has been listed with a price of $12,500.

When you look at the Mustang it is hard to believe that the car is 35-years-old. The presentation is really impressive, and I don’t see any real issues that would constitute a worry. The Dark Charcoal Metallic (9W) paint was available in 1984 only, and this car’s paint has a nice shine to it. The distinctive SVO wheels have managed to avoid the pitting and tarnish that can beset them over time. There is some color mismatch between some of the metal and plastic exterior surfaces, but this is an extremely common occurrence as manufacturers of the era were trying to come to grips with the issue of maintaining uniform surface changes between metal and plastic. There are still some manufacturers who battle with that today.

The interior of the SVO was a case of “you can have it in any color, as long as it’s Charcoal Grey.” Owners could choose to have the seats upholstered in either leather or in cloth, as this car has been. Once again, the condition of the interior is impressive. Those heavily bolstered bucket seats, while incredibly comfortable, can also be very prone to wear on the edges. The driver’s seat of this car has some wear, but it is actually quite minimal. As part of the package, you also get leather on the wheel, the shifter, and the parking brake. The rest of the interior looks really nice, but one interesting aspect of this car is that it is fitted with manual windows. Power windows were standard on the Mustang SVO, and these were usually deleted as part of what was referred to as the “Competition Prep” package. The same is true of the stereo. The Ford premium stereo was part of the SVO package but was usually deleted in the Competition package. I noticed that this Mustang has been fitted with what looks like a very basic radio/cassette player, which would also indicate this as a possibility. The fact that this SVO also lacks the standard air conditioning basically confirms that this is a Competition Prep SVO

Under the hood is the 2.3-liter turbocharged Pinto engine, which sends its power to the rear wheel via a T5 manual transmission. With electronic fuel injection and an intercooler, power output for the SVO was a fairly healthy 175hp. While this still wasn’t in the same league as the muscle cars of days past, these were still very healthy numbers. The lighter weight and better weight distribution provided by the 4-cylinder engine allowed for noticeable improvements in both handling and performance when compared to the V8 Mustang GT. The SVO also benefited from the inclusion of Koni shocks and 4-wheel disc brakes as standard. Under the hood of this SVO looks nice and clean, and the owner says that the only things on the car that aren’t original are the battery and the tires and that the car runs perfectly.

For the die-hard fans of muscle cars, this Mustang SVO probably doesn’t cut the mustard when compared to the cars of years past. However, this car represents a very real attempt by Ford to reintroduce some excitement back into a Mustang range which was considered to be a shadow of its former self. This particular car is in very nice condition, and with nice examples capable of fetching prices in excess of $16,000, this is a competitively priced vehicle.

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  1. Troy s

    Can’t believe it’s been 35 years either, when I graduated high school in 1984. Yikes. Safety, emissions, then the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards added one more dilemma.
    These were expensive cars when new, and there was a trend for turbo 4 bangers throughout the eighties, and maybe if Ford hadn’t kept at the 5.0 GT, well, who knows.
    Had the look, the handling, the decent performance numbers on paper for the time, but it was lacking something…

    Like 5
  2. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Sure is a clean looking car!

    I’d appreciate a better look at the whole driver’s seat, but the rest of the car is shown pretty well. Cars which have spent only one year in Michigan don’t look anywhere near that good underneath. This car kind of changes my mind on whether I’d like a niche/non-V8 Mustang.

    Like 3
  3. stillrunners

    Yep – Troy….back then – with a little prep – they were sweet on the street. Nice it survives…..

    Like 4
  4. Wayne

    By running a 3″ exhaust you automatically get about another 25 hp. (And it spools up a little quicker). Several companies have “retuned/tunable” ECM for this car that again can add another 25 to 40 hp. Now you are in the 5.0 league. With a lighter car. I love the turbo 2.3 but I love my 5.0 more. It was a good exercise in design. But the 4 banger was a little rough running and more expensive than the 5.0. ( plus the 5.0 is just so smooth and torquey)
    I remember looking at the MSRP on a 5.0 LX Hatch in 1986 on the showroom floor. It was white ( and my favorite color on a hatch Fox Mustang)!and the price was $12,500. The SVO on the same showroom floor was $16,000. No question about which had more value.

    Like 4
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      We’ll see how that plays in another decade?

      Like 0
  5. DAve

    “Competition Prep” – no power locks, power windows, radio, or A/C

    Like 3
  6. Tirefriar

    One of my favorite Mustangs. I started to notice these when you could get a mint one for around $5k. With those days long gone, I still have a soft spot for the SVO. This was a “europeanized” Mustang, the lighter engine which was horned back of the front axle for much better handling. Upgraded Koni suspension is another plus. Best ones to get would be 1985.5 which had higher hp and torque. I also liked the “facelifted” model in 1986 with flush headlamps. Today, these can be tweaked to very respectable hp territory but this particular one is too nice for that…

    Like 4
  7. Skorzeny

    Adam, it’s ‘muster’, not ‘mustard’…

    Like 1
  8. Gsuffa GsuffaMember

    “Cut the Mustard” is gaining acceptance. Originally “Pass Muster”. Have mercy on non-(American)English speakers.

    Like 2
  9. BuickNut

    I would love to have had an SVO but the original sticker on these were close to the Buicks Turbo Ts. So thats the way I went.
    The benefit of having an SVO was the stick shift with a turbocharger. Back then the general public had a lot to learn about turbocharged engines and running higher grade fuel. So most of these ended blown up sitting in a yard. You could pick them up pretty cheap then. Then the next guy ripped the 4 cylinder out to build a v8. That was a sad day.
    I would love to build one now with all the dirt track upgrades that are now available for the 2.3 you can build an indestructible little engine that can handle all the boost you can throw at it.

    Like 4
  10. Gsuffa GsuffaMember

    I wanted a buddy to put this motor in his Shay Model A replica. Those have Factory 2.3 engines.

    Like 0
  11. ScottMember

    One of the few 80’s cars that holds up in the looks department after all these years. Looks great in the grey.

    Like 5
  12. Neal

    Do I remember correctly that these SVO Mustangs came with the original Goodyear “Gatorback” tires, just like the Corvettes of the time? And is it hard to replace those tires with something equivalent?
    I had a poster/ ad of one of these in my room through high school from when they were new and hot.
    I don’t trust turbo engines from that era (or actually any era except modern ones) because they just didn’t hold up. My Subaru turbo from the same era ate cylinder heads despite my best efforts, and others (Saab, Buick, etc) had similar head or turbo bearing fates.

    Like 2
  13. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    I’ve always liked these. I agree, along with the Turbo Coupes the styling has held up well. With the Ecoboost 4 cylinders in new Mustangs, in a sense this car was 30 years before its time.

    Like 2

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