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Foreshadowing Four: 1984 Ford Mustang SVO


Ford has been making a big hubbub about their new four-cylinder turbo equipped Mustang that was just released. Automotive journalists have praised it, but some enthusiasts have voiced concern that perhaps the original pony car has lost its way. Are we all so quick to forget that this format is not new to the iconic car? Well, Jim S just reminded me of that fact when he sent in a link to this 1984 Mustang SVO that he found here on eBay. It’s located in Fredericksburg, Texas and bidding starts at $2,500 with no reserve.


Obviously, a new Mustang is going to provide a better experience than this crusty old back-road brawler, but if you like to get your hands dirty, then this may be the way to go. There’s some rust to fix and paint to mend, but it is claimed to run. It may not look like much in the photos, but this was the top of the line Mustang back in the eighties. If you think the new four-cylinder and irs has caused an upset, just think what people thought of this! It was Ford’s best attempt at making a fuel-efficient, but sporty car at the time though.


Perhaps history is just repeating itself today. Fuel prices and Government regulations have again made it hard on the American muscle car. Luckily we have come a long way since this car was produced though. This little Pinto sourced four averaged similar mpg figures as today’s car, but the power output was substantially less (175hp vs 310hp). Personally, I tend to stay away from cars with turbos just because of the added complexity. I am grateful for them though because they have kept the performance car alive through tough times.


Power isn’t everything though. The Special Vehicle Operations Department did a fine job at tweaking the suspension, brakes, and controls to make this drab interior a pleasant place to be. You had better like grey though because that was all you get in your SVO. That’s alright though because with some well placed pedals, a smooth shift, and no touchscreen, your eyes will be out on the road anyway. Unlike projected sales figures for today’s four cylinder Mustang, relatively few SVOs were sold. You could probably find a better condition car if you kept looking, but if this one is in your backyard, it might be worth checking out.


Now, to end with an ironic quote from Ford itself: At the time, plans were being made to wind down production of the Fox-Body Mustang. It was thought that the SVO could represent both the end of the Mustang heritage, and the launch of a new performance era featuring smaller, turbocharged engines. Planners would ultimately prove to be wrong on both counts – but for a few years at least, this boosted pony served with distinction as one of the best performance machines of the day.

So, is the turbocharged Mustang here to stay or are the product planners all wrong once again?


  1. The Chucker

    I had a buddy in high school who had one of these. From what I can recall, it was a capable car for the day. This one however, well…..

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  2. Vince Habel

    Not for me.

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  3. MikeW

    The 84 Mustang 5.0 only had 175 hp. same as the SVO. in 85½ it jumped to 205 and for 86 when the GT dropped to 200 hp.

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  4. Alan (Michigan)

    Funny, the red clay dust all over the engine compartment is a really close match to the faded exterior paint!

    Think about it a second… This car for $2500, or the Europa for $3500? Mustang wins that one by a mile!

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    • Tirefriar

      I’d say that the Mustang wins it by a door…

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  5. Tirefriar

    The SVO is on my list of cars to own. It’s a concept that I really like – small motor made large by forced induction. It was only made for 3 years and was the most performance oriented Fox Mustangs of its time. Id go for the face lifted model with 30hp more, lower rear end gears and flush headlamps (uber cool).

    This particular one is priced way too high – clean ones can still be had for closer to $6k, while $10-$12k will get you a primo example in its final 1986 iteration. In my opinion the SVO is a solid investment as the prices are beginning to firm up.

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  6. Tirefriar

    Just to put the pricing into perspective: http://newyork.craigslist.org/wch/cto/4818153605.html

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  7. Tirefriar
  8. Charles

    The SVO did not impress me in the day.

    They still don’t impress me now…

    Trying to force feed a four banger and call it a muscle/pony car is like trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

    And for the new turbocharged four cylinder Mustangs. Ford plays V-8 motor noises through the stereo system to drown out the whine of the turbo four… WTF???

    Now if they turbocharged the 5.0 Coyote engine in the GT. Then you will have something!

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    • Tirefriar

      I agree that the 4 cylinder application in today’s Mustang is a bit of a joke compared to its intended purpose in the SVO. Mustang received the 4 pot, not only to satisfy EPA but also to give a Mustang a price edge over competition. The SVO was also an answer to tightening government regulations on mileage and emissions but the approach was to make it a better car than anything Fox platform offered at the time – and they did. The 4cyl SVO was more expensive than its 8 cyl cousin GT. It was also much more technologically advanced. It carried a fully adjustable suspension, 4 wheel disc brakes, better gearing, etc. unlike the new Mustangs whose intention is to take customers away from Asian econoboxes, the SVO was designed to go up against European sport cars. Even today, the used SVO prices are reflective of the P 944 prices. Given the relative abundance of 944 out there, I’d be inclined to go the SVO way. Before anyone starts jumping to the defense of the 944, I did own an 86 back in the late 90’s and it is a very good car indeed.

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    • Andrew

      The SVO wasn’t meant to be a muscle car. It was a road carver, not a quarter miler. The suspension was made for cornering, along with the brakes and shifter.
      The SVO was the groundbreaker for many of the improvements that are now commonplace and is a very misunderstood car. Remember, it had:
      16″ wheels. Not seen until a few years after
      4 wheel disc brakes. Not standard until 1994 (except the 1993 Cobra)
      Hurst Shifter and KONI adjustable dampening shocks
      revised pedal placement for shifting
      functional aero ground effects
      Sig seats
      Electronically adjustable boost depending on Octain rating
      However, it cost a great deal of money and the salespeople couldn’t sell it properly.
      Disclaimer–I have two Mustangs, an 86 GT and an early 84 SVO, so I am a supporter, but a supporter who has driven both the muscle car and the road car.

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  9. Fred

    My first new car was a 1985.5 SVO, same color as this one, with the competion option. This one looks pretty good considering it’s problems. The vacuum hose layout is confusing, many body parts are difficult to find, other than I’m kind of tempted. Fredericksburg is cute tourist town and not too far from me. I’m sure I can get my girlfriend to go and I’ll just kind of act surprised “hey look, an SVO!”

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