Ran Last Summer: 1986 Ford Mustang SVO

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Many enthusiasts cars have a period in which their values seem to be climbing consistently, but then a tipping point occurs where values either keep climbing or flat-line. Many of the 1980s models have experienced this lately where their prices have more or less been “set” for the foreseeable futures, with the true classics continuing to escalate and others settling in where they’re likely to remain for years to come. In the case of the Ford Mustang SVO, it seems to have settled into the latter category, and this 1986 project-grade example listed here on craigslist is available for just $3,500.

For a hot minute, there were some very ambitious prices being asked for SVOs, with some collector-grade cars popping up for $40,000 to $50,000. I wonder how many people got caught up in the pre-pandemic pricing spree where sellers could seemingly ask for any price they wanted, and many buyers were caught up in the frenzy. The SVO always struck me as a bit of a mystery, as it had all the chops of a potential collector’s item but it also never seemingly broke through in a significant way. Collectors still preferred V8-powered Fox bodies, and if you wanted a turbocharged or supercharged coupe, there were plenty of imports to choose from.

Now, this SVO is cheap not entirely due to economic forces but mostly because it is in fairly tired condition. The sport seats are in need of an upholstery job and the general feel of the cabin is one of neglect. The odometer shows just over 119,000 miles and that appears to be accurate. The seller doesn’t provide much in the way of information about this SVO’s maintenance history or any meaningful backstory, simply noting that it ran last summer and now no longer fires up. The shame of this is, that in addition to being a limited production model, this is also the later SVO with the flush headlights and a bump in horsepower to 205.

Torque also rose to 248 lb-ft. courtesy of a few different tweaks including a better-flowing intake manifold and the boost being turned up to 15 PSI. The seller shows photos of the rust that lines the edge of the door, and my guess is the passenger side looks the same. As someone who has purchased a project car from this part of Pennsylvania (Lancaster), I can affirm that rust can be a serious issue. Based on the listing, I am guessing this seller isn’t overly attached to his SVO, and it can be bought with a reasonable offer. Do you think the SVO is worthy of restoration? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Mitchell G. for the find.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    The SVO was an interesting and reasonably well-done view of what Ford thought a performance model might look like coming out of the Malaise Era and oil shortages worries. However, it wasn’t long until the 5.0 Foxes claimed the crown, and still do today. I’ve seen concours level restored SVO’s, and they are stunning. This one is in driver condition, and there are probably better ones out there which would be restoration candidates. It is cheap; maybe just get it running and spruce it up (new upholstery would do wonders) and enjoy driving it.

    Thanks Jeff.

    Like 12
  2. Big C

    The main problem with the SVO was it’s price point. It was above the V-8 GT. I loved the look of these cars. But I was one who couldn’t pull the trigger, either. It was all about the “bang for the buck.”

    Like 7
    • Johnny Major

      You are correct on the price point kept them on showroom floors. I bought a 1984 (first year) new in Houston TX after it sat on the showroom floor for over 1.5 years. The 1984/85 models had a turbo lag, which the 1986 model didn’t. The SVO was very slightly slower out of the hole compared to the GT V8 torque but had a higher top end and handle much better. My 1984 model got about 28 MPG. This one for sale looks very rough and I would be extremely Leary of it “not running”

      Like 6
      • CalXR

        The Lima 2.3 turbo is a very simple motor powered by very simple fuel injection. I can’t imagine anything that would make getting one of these things running difficult. The one exception would be if the cylinder head is damaged… they are cast iron and prone to cracking when *very* neglected. As in, they are super durable until they are not. :) Mine has 300k on it and has been managing 25 psi of boost for 20 years or so… but I keep a spare head in the garage just in case. ;)

        Like 3
      • Mark

        Ad has been updated, now says “runs well”. That’s it, nothing else.

        Like 0
  3. Connecticut mark

    205 HP not bad

    Like 2

    I was on my way to a Ford dealership to order one when I stopped at a Buick dealership to look at a used one. While checking it out I discovered the Grand National. It was sold when I inquired about it and it was a 84 model.
    I knew nothing about them and this was B4 Internet but I grabbed some brochures. I was back there the next week and ordered an 87. Took a yr to get it but I’m happy I didn’t pull the trigger on the SVO

    Like 12
    • DST1965

      Definitely a better choice-Grand Nationals have really been going up in price-nicer car all around

      Like 2
      • OIL SLICK

        Wish I still had it but kids happen never lost a race in that car but one tie with a ligenfelter Vette bi turbo

        Like 1
  5. Troy

    I was somewhat interested until Pennsylvania tag, the buyer will definitely want to get this on a lift somehow I don’t think it’s going to pass PA inspection without a bunch of money

    Like 3
  6. Ablediver

    WOW ! I ordered one of the last 86′ SVO’s. Yep, you could almost buy two (2) GT’s for the same price, I enjoyed mine for three (3) years. Johnny Major is right about them being slightly slower out of the hole than a 5.0 GT, but much higher top end. Mine pulled 144 mph on I-295 in Rhode Island at 0630 one Sunday morning. If you knew how to apex an on-ramp those Z-rated tires would stick hard enough to make your ear’s equilibrium go sideways. You could have a lot of fun with the SVO on a twisty road and Northern New England had its share. My 86′ spent it winters in the garage so it never suffered the rust deal. This one has obviously had a history. It might be worth a Coyote conversion if the body isn’t too far gone. There are rebuild kits available for the seats. Best of luck to the new owner.

    Like 2
  7. mr haney

    To calxr, I say he blowing boost from some where else, 300k miles 20 years at 25 pounds , and it is where hot air comes out ! Full of it ! yea I have and had a dozen intercooled cars

    Like 0
    • TWestrup

      Absolutely correct! The weakest link in the induction system is the head gasket. Once you exceed 20 lbs of boost – it’s gone!

      I autocrossed a prepared MK1 ’73 Capri that I stuck an ’86 SVO 2.3 and T5 into. It won it’s class for about a decade straight!

      Like 0
  8. FOG

    I loved the road handling with the SVO. Made driving through road traffic so much easier than the GT.

    Like 0
  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNWMember

    There is only a 2 word description: “Runs well.”
    It doesn’t say anything about it running last summer, so curious where the title of this article came from.

    Yes, needs work, but might be worth doing, or as a parts car for another project.

    Like 0

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