Got Compression? 1984 Mustang SVO


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The Mustang SVO is one of those cheap project cars that I’m convinced will be worth bigger bucks in the near term. Of course, they’ve been cheap for so long, perhaps they’ll be perpetually obtainable – I certainly hope so! This early model here on eBay is said to be a recent barn find but it has some mechanical issues that demand a closer inspection, including concerns about poor compression. 


The SVO is said to have been removed from long-term storage, where it has sat for years with just over 60,000 original miles. The body looks rust-free and sports the earlier recessed headlights (later models were flush with the grill and turn signals). The seller notes the car has solid floors and frame rails, and also comes with its original title.


The interior is a bit tattered, with a torn driver’s seat (the passenger seat isn’t faring much better) and the carpets are filthy. The steering wheel also shows a fair amount of wear, all of which is more than I expected for a lower mileage car. Perhaps the miles aren’t accurate? Whatever the story is, the interior will need some work to be brought up to driver-quality condition.


Here’s where the real fun begins: so, this is the punchy 2.3L turbo that made the SVO a tasty alternative to the Mustang GT. However, the seller discloses that in his mechanic’s run-down of the car’s mechanical health that the engine showed poor compression. Now, he claims it can be remedied simply by driving the car, but you’ll need to re-assemble the cooling system before doing so (new parts are included). The opening bid of $5,500 seems quite strong; I think a lower bid should get the job done. What would you pay?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Fred W.

    Improve the compression by driving the car? Hmmmmmm…. might as well add some “Motor Honey” while you’re at it…

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    • Wayne Thomas

      Best improvement would be an EcoBoost swap out of a new Mustang.

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    • Charles

      Yeah Fred, never heard of driving a car to increase the compression! Also, the interior doesn’t look a car with 60K miles……. Maybe 160K miles!

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      • MikeK

        260K Maybe

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    • Mike Williams

      This can be true with stuck engines from long term storage. The rings are stuck and need some detergent like Reslone to free them up while driving. Sometimes it works and sometimes it needs new rings.

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  2. Don E

    Hmmmm, looks rode hard and put away wet for only 60k miles !

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  3. RayT

    I’m thinking more like 260K miles….

    Lots of surface corrosion around on shock mounts, intercooler, diff., etc., even though it appears not to have invaded the structure. So plenty of cleaning, painting and generaly tidying-up is in the next owner’s future.

    A fun car, and certainly desirable, but I get the feeling it is going to be a money pit. Don’t know if it would be worth it to someone concerned with resale, but at the current bid price it looks good for an enthusiast whose goal is to own and drive!

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  4. trey

    That engine compartment looks like it’s been under water.

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      Exactly what I was thinking, that would explain the overall poor condition and rust on the car. No way that is a 60k mile car

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  5. DolphinMember

    The (re)seller seems willing to give up the information that the mechanic gave him—-both the good and the bad. But I’m with those who think this car either has more miles than is claimed for it, or those were some read hard miles.

    As for driving it to raise the compression, you drive it and raise the compression and then I might consider it. And what did you say those compression numbers were again?

    I admit it….I’m biased against small turbocharged engines and toward larger N.A. engines. You just have to work small turbo engines harder to move the car, and with a high pressure turbo you can get worse mileage than promised because the engineers know they need to make the fuel map richer to help the engine to live. And then there are the blown head gaskets that personal experience has shown me you can get with high pressure turbocharging in small engines.

    All that tells me that I want the 5.0, and not the turbo 2.3

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  6. Fulm

    I had an 84 GT Mustang with a turbo 4 cylinder. Obviously not the power of the 5.0, but fun non the less.

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  7. Mike Williams

    By the looks of the front seat, I can tell you it has 160, 000 miles, also the lack of compression can be as simple as a cam belt on wrong. Oh, and the 84 SVO had 175 HP, exactly the same as the 5.0.

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  8. Mark Haas

    Most won’t read all of this BUT …. you guys are pretty close on this one! SVO forensics usually show ware on seats and steering wheel LIKE THAT at over 100K miles. This is easy enough to do by tracing back ownership via VON on forums, DOT and various paper work often with cars when you look.

    STORAGE (read- improper storage) results in the non painted parts on the svo (seen rusted in the engine compartment – looking like this) !!! Car was parked on a grass or dirt area for prolonged length of time -thus this result.

    Owner “took car to mechanic” to get running. He kind of did what was needed – BUT STOPPED at the need to free the phenolic pistons in the calibers, rebuild the brake system and is “miss calling LOW COMPRESSION” from the work he did (incorrectly for a 2.3EFI T/C car)

    It’s kind of too bad an SVO person didn’t get to first. The UNDERSIDE will be just as rusted for the “non painted” parts and need attention. What we as sellers and buyers have to learn is to know a $1000 project car from a $10,000 top of the market car! I feel responsible as I have seen a number of cars “come out of the wood work” since the recent 2014/15 sales.

    Current ad’s on Ebay and internet all REFER to Hagerty price valuation tools, which is a refection in recent sales. This has created a false valuation as they aren’t comparing to Comp Prep SVO’s. I DID REPORT MY SALES AMOUNTS – SVO owners should know that Comp Preps especially low mileage cars will carry a higher value.

    Eventually Hagerty Valuation will break out Comp Prep (41C) option cars from the other 9K+ cars to be more accurate. Look at it like 65 GT 350 vs GT 350R. Or the 93 Cobra R in comparison to the other 5K cars.

    While we all like to see the increase in value and interest in SVO’s – current NON 41C cars sell and sell much faster at the right price points. This is no difference than with listing a home, you can’t overprice – the market/owners know.

    The result is it’s hard for the entry level “project” to get into the hands of someone that “wants to work on a car” – that is too bad for the hobby/marque and next generation of car guys! Mark Haas -TheSVOTrust

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  9. Fulm

    84 SVO did, not the turbo 4 cylinder found in GT Mustangs,,,145hp.

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