Foxy Turbo: 1985 Ford Mustang SVO

1985 Mustang SVO

These days, the name of the game in combining efficiency with performance is to introduce turbocharging into every platform possible, from Hyundais to high-performance models like the BMW M3. While better fuel mileage is always welcome, I always feel a bit bummed that turbocharging has gone mainstream. Finding vestiges of the ‘80s like the Mustang SVO, when turbocharging was exotic and exciting is a welcome trip down memory lane. For those of you with an itch for an SVO practically still in the wrapper, this ‘85 with only 10,000 miles is listed here on craigslist with a $5,900 asking price.

Mustang SVO Interior

Fox bodies are among my favorite designs of the Mustang family. It reminds me of high school, when a classmate had an absolutely ratty GT convertible, but still one of the baddest cars in the lot. This SVO is anything but ratty, with very low mileage and a mint condition interior. I love the sport-style cloth seats these cars came with, along with the three-spoke steering wheel. It just felt smaller and tighter, as if its reduced consumption resulted in an overall perception of weight-loss.

Mustang SVO Engine

When Ford introduced this car in the 1980s, I’m sure aficionados were aghast that a Mustang could be considered a performance model like the GT without a V8. However, credit must be given to Ford for having that vision, which today is treated like an engineering revelation of epic proportions despite the fact that many manufacturers experimented with turbocharging long before it became the obvious path to meeting CAFÉ regulations. 55 MPG by 2025, mercy!

Ford Mustang SVO

Really, a Mustang of the ’80s will always mean the same thing it means for people who grew up lusting after Mustangs of the ’60s or ’70s: an iconic vehicle with a single purpose, to perform better and faster than the generation before it (for a minute, let’s forget the Mustang II every existed). To me, an SVO represents an excellent investment, both for the innovation it represents and the respectable performance it delivers. And with just 427 built in ’85, when are you going to find another one? So tell us, would this turbocharged Pony find a home in your garage, or are you the type who will never settle for anything other than a naturally-aspirated V8?

WANT ADS

WANTED 1972 Ford PINTO WAGON LOOKING FOR A RUST-FREE WAGON WEST COAST Contact

WANTED 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 2 dr HT I need both rear quarters Contact

WANTED 1970 or 1071 Ford Torino squire wagon Looking for nice car ready to drive. Might consider rust free car to build. Contact

WANTED 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle I am seeking an original 70 chevelle 454 block and heads in good condition Contact

WANTED 1959-1961 (and) GM Cars Cad,Chevy,Corvair,Pontiac,Olds,Buick Wanted parts/donor car. I need a “Cantilever”,”Flying Wing”;”flattop” roof assembly. Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. PaulG

    Jeff, I couldn’t agree more, in fact I own an ’88 Conquest Tsi that brings a smile to my face each time I drive it!
    That said, the ad states 101K miles, not 10K.

  2. Joe Stella

    It’s got 101K on the clock.

  3. Rev. Rory

    Seats, engine compartment, pipes, wheels, etc. also say 101k or 110k rather than 10k.

  4. Jeff Lavery Staff

    Guys, sorry about the typo on the mileage. Consider me even more impressed that it looks that good for 101K!

    Paul, I am INSANELY jealous of your TSI! Very hard to find in yellow!

    • PaulG

      Thanks Jeff, to top it off it has the tan leather interior, and the SHP package. I’ve polished the wheels since this photo, and the car runs amazing. Just back from a 550 mi. roundtrip to the SEMA show, and received tons of compliments. She just turned 190K miles, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see this car go 100K more!

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Add me +1 on the Conquest comment. Always like those cars.

  5. Mark W

    I remember being a lot boy in a Ford dealership around this time, and someone pulled in with one of these to the front of the service building and left it running for the manager to come look at. Apparently the turbo had fried its bearings and sat there making the most god awful mechanical noise, like shaking a coffee can full of bolts or something. Hopefully it was under warranty, it sounded expensive.

    • MikeW

      The 84’s were oil cooled only and the return line would get coked up and plug if you didn’t cool them down properly. They also need better maintenance. The next year they were water cooled.

  6. Dolphin Member

    I like the CL ad the seller made, and I really like the Fox body on the ’80s Mustang a lot more than the next-gen body that replaced it. But I can’t see going for the little turbo-4 when there’s the 5.0 V8 available. It looks like the buying public felt the same way since very few SVOs were sold. Hemmings says less than 2,000 ’85 & ‘85.5 SVOs in the US and 27 in Canada. Normally that kind of rarity would translate into higher prices in the musclecar market but I don’t see that with the SVO.

    I don’t have personal experience with the turbo-4 but I seem to remember hearing that it wasn’t the most long-lived performance engine that Ford ever made. My preference has always been for a good sized non-turbo engine with lots of torque and long gears in the ‘box/rear end. That way you get a good road car with instant throttle response plus decent mileage without having to put up with turbo lag and poor durability.

    I have been looking for a nice Fox body with 5.0 V8 but they all seem to have been used up or modified. My guess is that a Saleen would be the one to have since Steve Saleen knows how to make a few mods to suspensions to make them handle better than from the factory. I think it would be worth the premium over a regular 5.0 in good condition.

    • MikeW

      There were over 9k made and were supposed to replace the v8, but that didn’t happen when gas prices went down and v8’s started selling better. Ford did make it as good as the v8’s in the performance department. By using 3.76 posi axles, traction bars and EFI, they got rid of most of the turbo lag. A large od got the mileage back. Plus they would really out handle the GT’s. The early Saleens where just cosmetic upgrades. I loved my SVO’s with their 3 year advanced styling.

      • MikeW

        correction, they came with 3.73’s, and 3.45’s the first year.

      • Dolphin Member

        Ford made 9,000+ SVOs in all from ’84 – ’86, but Jeff & I were talking about the 1985 / 1985.5 SVOs only.

        I have a bunch of original Saleen brochures for 1985-1991 in front of me right now and they say that the Saleen cars had Racecraft suspensions with stiffer springs, Koni adjustable or gas pressurized shocks, stiffer anti-roll bar and suspension bushings, additional chassis crossmember and/or chassis bracing, SVO disk brakes and 5-bolt hubs, wide alloy wheels, P225/50VR-16 performance tires, and optimized chassis adjustments and settings that were tuned for performance driving. The separate Saleen “High Performance Parts” brochures list those parts and more than can be used on regular Mustangs. They quote a lateral acceleration figure of 0.89 for the Saleen cars.

        In addition to the 5.0 V8, that’s why I would take a Fox body Saleen over a Mustang that didn’t have those handling upgrades because the Saleens had a lot more than cosmetic differences compared to the production Mustangs.

  7. Leon

    Conquests are nice. Werent they sold under Chrysler Dodge and Plymouth in various years along with cousin Mitsubishi Starion ? Did Ford also have a Turbo Fairmont in early 80s ??

  8. MikeW

    That’s a great buy and if it wasn’t for the shipping I’d grab it. I’ve owned 4 of them and that one is the best with 205 HP. They had great factory chassis mods with the traction bars, 4 wheels disc brakes with 5 bolt wheel Z rated 16 tires, that the GT guys drooled over. They didn’t get them until 1994. While the 79-80 Turbos where short lived, these new EFI engines lasted 200k miles

  9. jim s

    these and the t-bird turbo coupes always interested me. and with both you want to get the newest, lowest miles and manual transmission one you can find for the money you have to spend. great fun and find.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Jim, I also love the Turbo Coupes. Had a plastic model as a kid that stayed on my mind for a long time! Always wanted a black one with red striping.

      • jim s

        just checked hemmings, ebay, and autotrader and found just 2 early model, i liked the later ones the best. drove a few new Turbo Coupes when the speed limit was 55MPH. i would love to see how they drive now that the speed limits are much higher. and yes they do look great in black.

      • MikeW

        The later ones, 87 and 88 had intercoolers and 40 more horsepower, so yes they be more FUN! I owned a ’85, it had cruise control and automatic, that you couldn’t get on the SVO’s

    • Alan (Michigan)

      The SVO was easy to spot on the road, but the T-Birds were quite stealthy. I am all over this listing and discussion. Wrote an article for “Auto-X” magazine, (now known as “Grassroots Motorsports”) on the Saleen, and got to drive it to FL from Farmington, Michigan for the test. Mixed it up a little on the highway with a turbo ‘Bird, and he was pretty darn fast. As mentioned, that vintage of Saleen Mustang had significant suspension and cosmetic/interior changes, with options for boosting power as well.

      One of the SVO’s was autocrossed in my area for several years, and I got to ride along on a number of occasions. Great car.

      As far as the engines go… If you look up the results for the 2014 SCCA Solo Nationals in the C Prepared (think ground-pounding, highly modified pony cars) you’ll find *gasp* a 1987 Ford Thunderbird in 3rd place, of 41 entries! I think Ethan said something about 385 WHP…..

  10. Fred

    My first new car was a 1985.5 SVO, competition option saved me some money by deleting the AC and radio. The .5 offered 210 hp instead of the previous 175. Turbo was worn out at about 60,000 miles Lots of trim parts are hard to find now days. I don’t have the skills to keep all that vaccuum hoses, sensors and computer stuff working, other wise I’d be tempted

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Sounds like a pretty killer model, Fred. Didn’t know about the competition option.

  11. eric

    oh no, its on the island near me. I’ve wanted one for years and years. unfortunately, I already have one car that I don’t drive in the winter and need one for winter duty and kid learning to drive duty. I don’t think the family would be happy with me showing up with this instead.

  12. Alan (Michigan)

    This popped up while I was reading the link for the Mustang Boss 351 :

    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/archived-1984-ford-mustang-svo-review

  13. Mark Aitken

    The rear spoiler looks a LOT like the style which was also Fitted to the EU Sierra XR4i 2.8i V6 from about 83-85 as well! Suppose that is just good business using the same Aero for different Models in the Range?
    http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7016/6817015515_2866f26204.jpg

    • MikeW

      The Merkur XR4TI had more in common with the SVO and Turbocoupe. The ran the same engine and rear drive, but had irs. also had the bi wing.

  14. Cameron Bater UK

    I’m not a fan of these Mustangs, I always liked the sleek look of the origoonal shape and hated the change to a salloon style car, In my opinion the beauty is only just coming back in for the 2015 mustnag (in concept stages at the moment)

  15. john wick

    Running your vehicle’s air conditioning is no worse for your gas mileage than driving with your windows down. As your vehicle speeds up, air flow creates a drag against the vehicle, making the engine work harder and hurting gas mileage. In fact, air conditioning can be a more efficient option at higher speeds.

Leave a Reply to Alan (Michigan) Cancel reply

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.