Five-Speed 5.0! 1985 Ford LTD LX

By the mid-1980s, cars previously neutered by emissions and fuel economy requirements of the early ’70s began to show signs of life and something that had become unusual:  performance! Ford’s Fox platform began in 1978 with this car’s twin:  the Fairmont. The Mustang left its Pinto underpinnings to join the Fox platform in 1979. By the time this 1985 Ford LTD LX in Berkeley, California came around, the 5.0 L (302 cid) V8 was making, well OK 165 HP, but it certainly felt like more to folks who learned to drive in the malaise era of gutless parental appliances with V8s making barely more than 100 HP. Continuing the “5.0” theme, this one sports 15″ ten-slot Mustang wheels, some bolt-ons to the 5.0 V8, and a Mustang five-speed manual transmission and pedal set. The listing here on Craigslist asks what seems like a reasonable $6000 for the trans-swapped sleeper. Thanks to reader Pat L. for spotting this “One of none”  LTD.

The center console may be a bit crooked but overall looks tidy enough. I believe I’d find a stock Mustang shifter with the dog-leg bend that puts the ball lower and nearer the driver. Though Ford never offered a five-speed LTD LX to the general public, they did make a batch for road-racing legend Bob Bondurant’s high-performance and law-enforcement driving school, leveraging that fact in a magazine ad.

Coming up behind this LTD in traffic, few people would expect this ’80s sedan to show signs of manual shifting as it pulled away. The current configuration may be tame compared to modern hot sedans, but the 5.0 can be spiced up to make crazy horsepower if your pocketbook allows. You could probably achieve 400 HP for under $10,000 including the car. How many modern cars deliver 400 HP for under ten grand?

The engine compartment is the same as countless Fox Mustangs made from 1979 through 1993, and a little research will net you plans and examples holding nearly every engine Ford ever made, plus some with laptop-tuned GM LS mills. The seller kindly shows some of the car’s weak points including non-functional air conditioning, but the car does pass California smog testing, always a plus for enthusiasts in the Golden State. Maybe it’s just me, but that empty spot at the front left seems to be crying out for a basketball-sized turbo. Would you guess this boxy LTD runs a warmed-up 5.0 V8 with a five-speed stick?

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  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    I wonder if this is Jim Peterson’s old car.He ran the LTD LX
    website,& modifies a white one.It was on (I believe) eBay,for a
    high bid of less than $1700.Wish I’d bought it then.
    I had an ’85 LX that I bought from the original owner for $1200
    some years ago.Sold it for $600 (buy low,invest lots of money,& sell low).
    Wish I would have kept it.
    I’ve always been told that they made 3260 of these,& have seen a number of them in different parts of California,& even one in Montana.
    There was one in a wrecking yard (Last Mile Auto Wreckers) near Clear-
    Lake,CA,but that was years ago.

    Like 12
  2. Billy1

    I have always liked these. Even when new they were rare.

    Like 5
  3. Mitchell Gildea Member

    This over a same-year 5.0 Mustang change my mind

    Like 10
    • Big_Fun Member

      1. Car seats
      2. Police profiling
      3. Three adult friends
      4. Sheep’s clothing
      5. Insurance premiums
      6. Better history (i.e. less thrashing)
      7. Rarity
      8. Less scrutiny by everyone (see number 2.)
      9. “Oh, another Mustang!” Will NOT be uttered as they walk by…

      Like 20
  4. John Alm

    Car is Screaming wildly Coyote conversion , Damn Sleeper

    Like 4
  5. Sant

    Where’s the location of this car?

    • Steve R

      Berkeley California

      Steve R

      Like 1
  6. Troy s

    I saw a station wagon version of this the other day, complete with Flownasters, dual tail pipes like an LX, and a tire screeching burn out before crossing the street. You never know what’s hiding under the hood of more or less dull cars like this. I think its it’s great these old Fords are being hopped up.
    Leave the Hurst shifter, throw some mags on it, make sure it makes plenty of noise and show off that old box. Won’t pass the smog test without a themactor air cleaner, preferably the big dual inlet one from the Mustang GT. Looks like a fun car!

    Like 4
    • nlpnt

      I was about to say, if I were to build such a “one of none” I’d go all the way and start with a wagon.

      Like 6
  7. Steve R

    This car DOES NOT pass California smog. It is being sold with a smog certificate, which is good for a certain number of days from its date of issue, during that period of time someone can use it to transfer title. Whoever buys this car will be in for a rude surprise if they are dumb enough to think it will pass smog in its current configuration, it won’t.

    Steve R

    Like 9
    • Tim

      Exactly. He paid a cheat smog guy to pass it for him. Good thing is this state gives the buyer recourse to go after the seller in court if they sell a car that they tampered to make it pass. Would love to take it to a normal smog place as a condition of the sale and get a fat FAIL so he couldn’t hide it.

      Like 1
    • Mountainwoodie

      Well.if you are in the mood for a four door and live in Cali…live someone where vehicles are smog exempt. Believe it or not.and as counterintuitive as it is, the cleaner the air…….no smog inspection needed. Of course this leads to lots of old guys driving smog belching trucks with handicapped placards hanging off the mirror………ask me how I know :)

      But I dont get the attraction in this case.

  8. EPO3

    It looks like the shifter is out of a RAT FINK PHOTO

    Like 5
  9. John Alm

    CT has an Emission Program But That 5.0L Mid – LTD would have to be stumbling at idle not to Pass , Being How The Standards Are For A Car That Old , Besides Vechs 20yrs old are exempt , would not pass newer car standards

    Like 1
    • angliagt angliagt Member

      No – in California,1975 & older are exempt.
      You have to have all of the original equipment
      installed & operating to pass.

      Like 3
  10. SebastianX1/9

    What a strange, ugly car.

    Like 1
  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking car. I remember when the Ford LTD looked like this. I find it more attractive to look at than those with the upright grille most seen on LTDs of the 80s. I hope it goes to a good owner. I hope he knows how to drive one with a manual shifting gearbox. Given its asking price of $6000, assuming everything works like it should, it might be worth the money.

    Like 2
  12. Joe

    I worked at a Ford Dealership and sold them. They were really not that fast, better than the 3.8 V/6, but it wasn’t very entertaining to drive. 250K and and it is TMU, odometer not working, a/c not working, speed control not working, dents. I would think the author would have brought up these point. Someone will buy it, I can find better ways to spend 6K.

    Like 4
  13. Major Thom

    I remember looking at one of these back in the early ’90’s at a Springfield, VA Ford dealer’s used car lot: a one-owner car originally owned by G. Gordon Liddy–and the dealer had the repair invoices to prove it.

    Like 3
  14. wcshook

    Lexington County S.O. (SC), had a few of these, back in the day. Fully dressed out, but were assigned to the Warrant Division. I am rather sure they had the V-8, auto. At first, I was thinking it should be LTD II, but I remembered that the name plate, changed to Crown Vic afterwards.

    • Joe

      This model was never called the Crown Vic, that was a full size car. These were LTD II, because they were smaller than the LTD they made back then.

      Like 2
  15. Karl

    I wonder if it’s the same level of quality as the Fairmont was? I do have a positive comment though I do like that shade of blue on the valve covers!

    Like 2
    • John Alm

      The Fairmont & LTD were built on same platform , like Tauras & Sable and many other ford products , had a 84 mercury marqise , they were mid- size entries

      Like 1
  16. John b

    Is the manuel transmission a production car for the public or was it a special order?

    • Joe

      It came only with a automatic from Ford.Joe

      Like 2
  17. Member

    Having owned both an 84 and an 85, this one has been seriously played with. The original fuel system was an early throttle body injection not carburetor as on this unit. The ignition system (coil, etc.)and the throttle body control were in the space in the left front. Note the holes in the fenders in front of the strut towers – that’s where the air ducts connected. With a few bits from the ford parts counter, you could replace the computer, injectors, fuel pump and with an enriched fuel mixture, these would eat a Mustang GT and small block Camaro. Then you’d buy the suspension pieces from Bondurant.

    Like 1
  18. Jett

    I’d love to have one of these with a built 5.0, T-5 tranny, and alloy 10 holes. In a conservative beige and chocolate brown paint scheme with a beige interior. Leave people scratching their heads…

    Like 3
  19. Ian

    Don’t forget that these cars were also offered with a police package which did include a 5.0. They were quite popular with lawn enforcement agencies in the day and they were quite good performers (relatively speaking).

  20. MitchRoss Member

    I had a 1984 white Police package one which had the same wheels but black anodized with silver center caps. Vinyl buckets and column shift. Loved it, lots of fun, Paid $700 at auction when it was about 10 years old

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