No Expense Spared: 1986 Ford Mustang SVO

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The Ford Mustang SVO remains a bit of an outlier in the performance and sports car world, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on them. Despite not having the brawn of a 5.0L V8 under the hood, the turbocharged powerplant can still be tuned for significant horsepower as the seller of this very clean 1986 Mustang SVO listed here on craigslist has done. The SVO is a low mileage example to boot with numerous tweaks under the hood to give it a claimed horsepower rating of 300 b.h.p. It’s offered for sale with 53K miles and an asking price of $16,750.

This is a later model with the flush headlights, which is considered a more attractive design than the earlier models with the recessed lenses. The Mustang looks sharp in gray paint with the polished, flat-faced alloys and the California location potentially suggests this has been a West coast car all of its life. The seller recounts that it is a rust-free and accident-free car, which is a significant feat for a vehicle this old. The taillight lenses present well as do the exhaust outlets, and really, there’s nothing to fault on the exterior. The seller notes it comes with “tuned suspension” and “big brakes.”

Now, of course, the SVO came from the factory with Koni shocks, but I’m guessing the seller is pointing to some additional upgrades beyond what came standard. The Fox body chassis has been known to respond well to suspension upgrades, so I’m sure with 300 b.h.p. and sticky rubber, this Mustang will hold its own on the backroads. Inside, you get the iconic three-spoke steering wheel and nicely bolstered sport seats, both of which appear to be in excellent shape save for some creases on the seats. Thankfully, the seller has focused on impactful upgrades under the hood and avoided the tacky aftermarket bits.

The listing notes that the SVO comes equipped with “…big turbo, down pipe, blow off valve, etc etc.,” and that much is evident in the engine bay photo. While we don’t get a ton of detail, the seller notes that he has receipts/records for all work done, so hopefully that paper trail will help fill in the gaps. The SVO as it sits looks like a bargain, with low mile cars always being a smart investment and the cost of the modifications likely beyond anything other than a break-even scenario for the seller. Would you put your money towards an upgraded SVO or a bone stock 5.0?

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  1. Greenhorn

    I never really took the SVOs seriously, though I completely understood what Ford was doing. I always liked the styling though. Just from reading Jeff’s write-up, this one sounds very interesting. I’m not a huge turbo fan, but I think this has potential to be a fun ride. Interesting hos the seller doesn’t use the term ‘wastegate’.

    Like 3
    • Terrry

      One problem with nearly all turbo engines of the 80s, was lag. And the stock SVO was not immune. At least, being rear wheel drive, the Mustang didn’t suffer from torque steer when the turbo finally came on.

      Like 1
      • Johnny Major

        The 1984 & 1985 models had the turbo lag but the 1986 didn’t have a turbo lag

        Like 6
      • TWestrup

        Gearing was the cause for any turbo lag. I put an ’86 SVO engine and T5 trans into a well sorted ’73 MK1 Capri autocross car with 4.11 gears, and had zero turbo lag.

        Like 1
  2. St.Michael

    I built a convertible version…93 LX with a 84 GT 2.3T & W.C T5…I used the LA3 ECU BROWNIES VAM E6 exhaust manifold from the T-Coupe & an 85 SVO intercooler with a fabbed up shaker scoop and repinned a XR4Ti S.A engine & fan harness with a 2nd ACT circuit for the sensor I mounted in the intake just after the throttle body for the LA#. I put 3″ pass side stinger exhaust on it with a DYNO-MAX muffler. It’s a BLAST to drive and the a definite + …It does not have the Koni shocks or MARK VII lower control arms as those have built in ball joints and cost $$$$ to have modified for replaceable ball joints…These are GREAT cars and a good investment IMO

    Like 7
  3. mick

    I agree. The 84 and 85 models were full of turbo lag. I was interested each year but the lag turned me off. Seemed potentially dangerous (the way I drove back then). I took an 86 out for a drive and the lag was almost completely gone, more of a rush than a hesitation then kick in the pants of the previous years. Ford dealer would not negotiate the price so I went with the 86 turbo tbird and saved a bunch of money. I enjoyed the heck out of the tbird and its engine but afterwards, always wished I had gone with the SVO.

    Like 2
  4. Nelson C

    Very cool but not a sought after Mustang. Got that contemporary Euro vibe with the minimalist grille, offset hood dome/scoop and crazy bi-wing spoiler plus light weight turbo engine. Way too much for the domestic market to absorb. Then throw in the price along side of an LX 5.0 and few were able to get on board. Fun piece of late 20th century motoring.

    Like 2
  5. Old Man

    “No Expense Spared”

    Like 2
  6. Dr Ron

    My ‘87 Merkur Xr4Ti had next to no turbo lag.
    Re-mapped the ECU, bumped injector volume a little, added a large lower front intake intercooler and it’d walk maybe even run away from any late eighties Mustang 5.0.
    Had a leaky A/C system and crumbling plastic radiator tank but other than that it was a fun car and comparable to my 3 Series BMW in the handling department.
    I’d like to own another one if I had the room.

    Like 2

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