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Running Barn Find: 1985 Ford Mustang SVO

This is a 1985 Ford Mustang SVO, the rare turbocharged Fox body that has come into its own in recent years as being an overlooked collectible that delivers grin-inducing performance with a relatively low cost of ownership. The seller notes that this car has been sitting under a barn for many years, but they rescued it and have it running and driving once again. Mileage is listed as 68,000, and the seller is even aiming to have the air conditioning fixed before the next owner takes possession. It needs some freshening up cosmetically and likely the full assortment of deferred maintenance addressed, but the seller is still looking for $12,900 in the listing here on eBay – but he is open to best offers.

Now, the mileage can’t be confirmed and based on the condition of the interior, I’d find that number suspect. Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of SVOs, and the cabins always strike me as being fairly durable given many higher mileage cars still present quite well. This one just looks neglected, with the bolsters blown out and lots of wear evident. The interior is also just plain filthy, so even if it is a low mileage car, it wasn’t exactly coddled. The steering wheel and shift knob, however, seem to have the kind of wear that is commensurate with a car with under 100,000 miles. I don’t believe that armrest and cupholder is original equipment, however.

The fact that the 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder fired up without too much effort is a very good sign, and the seller doesn’t detail any laundry list of mechanical fixes needed before driving it out from under the barn. There’s still likely plenty of deferred maintenance to tackle, especially given some of the belts and hoses don’t look particularly fresh. The top mount intercooler that feeds directly into the hood scoop was a testament to how seriously Ford was considering using turbocharged drivetrains way back in the 1980s, but of course, there was the ongoing fear of eating your young as it related to the turbo four-cylinder laying waste to the venerable and thirsty 302.

The flame job inside the hood ducts is not factory, and somewhat cheesy – and so are the later Mustang V6 wheels that have been bolted on. Hopefully, that’s just for the purpose of rolling the SVO, as the original flat-faced alloys were the perfect style for an 80s performance car. The maroon paintwork looks good and is a nice change of pace from the usual blacks and whites, and you’ll note the recessed lighting as a classic clue this is an older model that came before the smooth, aero-inspired nose became the standard-bearer. The SVO is a terrific example of 80s ingenuity, and while this one seems priced a touch high for the condition, we’re hopeful the seller will indeed honor a fair best offer.


  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Thanks Jeff. I’m pretty much with you on this SVO. It’s not bad but does look a bit well-used. Maybe it would clean up? Will need some mechanical sorting-out, and I like keeping the SVO look with the factory wheels. Prices on anything Fox Body continue to head up, but not sure it has reached the seller’s ask for this particular SVO.

    Like 2
    • Rod

      I agree. Outside of the hood and emblems it looks to be unmolested unlike lots of other SVOs.

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  2. misterlou Member

    I like how they carried over the double rear wing of the Sierra Cosworth. Now to shove a turbocharged a DOHC YB motor….

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  3. Bob C.

    1985, during this period, horsepower was coming back. The 302 was redeeming itself once again and they were beefing up smaller engines with fuel injection and whatnot. The SVO was pretty innovative, along with the Taurus SHO later.

    Like 2
  4. Araknid78

    Item location: Fort Pierce, Florida

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  5. Thomas H Piercy

    A little less power, but maybe as rare was the Mustang GT Turbo, available as a hardtop or convertible just missing the intercooler. One of those cars that Ford spent nothing on marketing. Another was the LTD LX of those years which was the mid-sized sedan but with the GT suspension and 5.0 engine. I thought it drove better than the GT because of the longer wheelbase. Another car you probably didn’t know that Ford made. I was a Ford sales mgr during this period and personally owned an 87′ Merkur XR4ti, again with the same Brazilian built 2.3 Turbo, my favorite car of many performance cars, a drivers dream if you could get by the kind of hokey looks.

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  6. Wayne

    The hood is not stock with the outer “outlets?”. That is someones idea to make it look different than other SVOs. As for comments on thirsty V8s of that era. 1986 was the first year of port injected 5.0 V8 engines. 25 to 28 mpg was not out of the question with a GT or LX 5.0. Where I never, ever, got any better than 19 MPG with any of my turbo Mustangs. At highway speeds the engine was always under boost so when under boost the computer opens up the injectors! This car is a very saveable car. And unfortunately the price is right where they are selling for out west. (where I am) But being in Florida I would want to check this car for rust. (It hides very well on these cars. But easy to find up on a lift.)

    Like 0

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