Worth It Sooner Or Later: 1988 Ford Mustang LX SSP Coupe

Here at Barn Finds, we spend a lot of time writing about muscle cars.  Not many people care how many four door Ford Fairlanes were equipped with 390s, but you drop a fastback 1967 Mustang with a four speed, no matter the condition, onto the website, then the comments start flowing like a river.  People, of course, love muscle cars, and the options they came with have a huge bearing on the price when they transition from used car to collectible.  As sixties and early seventies Mustangs with desirable go fast options enter the economic stratosphere, collectors are basically ignoring the Pinto based era and beginning to pick over the Fox body era cars.  Of these, none are more desirable than the SSP coupes.  While many were made into drag racers, a few remain in factory condition, like this 1988 Ford Mustang SSP coupe, found here on craigslist in Atlanta, Georgia.  The price of $8900, will be considered correct at some point, and a bargain soon after that.  However, is it the right price right now?

SSP, or Special Service Package Mustangs were primarily sold to law enforcement agencies as pursuit vehicles.  They were among the fastest Mustangs you could get at the time, and one of the best for high speed service.  Built around the coupe body (Mustangs at the time could be had as coupes, convertibles, and hatchbacks), which was lighter than the hatchback by about 200 pounds, a number of law enforcement specific modifications were made to them.  For those who like to go fast, a few of these modification made a lot of sense.  The engines received an oil cooler, and cars equipped with automatic transmissions received a transmission cooler.  However, the biggest difference is that these cars were shipped with reinforced floors to help with the chassis flex that Fox body Mustangs were known for.

Given that they were law enforcement cars, most came with automatic transmissions.  The reason being that officers needed to have their hands free to use the radio, drink coffee, eat donuts, etc., but there were variations in how they were ordered from department to department that allowed for some spice in the rice.  Therefore, the relatively rare manual transmission SSPs are the most desirable from a collector and enthusiast standpoint.  This particular 1988 Mustang SSP does have the desirable manual transmission, and is mostly stock.  The only add ons have been a set of 3.73 gears, sway bars, an aftermarket cold air intake, and an aftermarket exhaust system.

Inside, we can see that these cars were fairly plainly outfitted.  Manual windows, no cruise controls, and a radio delete option probably made driving one of these less fun than it could be.  This one, despite being a radio delete car, has an aftermarket stereo installed, so you won’t have to hum your favorite Van Halen tunes over the sound of the engine.  There are a few cracks in the dash, and the seats that you see in the car are replacements.  The factory seats have been saved, and come with the car.

The stock 5.0 liter engine has been rebuilt, and the car is believed to have around 180,000 miles on it.  The air conditioning system, according to the seller, has been converted to R-134, and blows cold.  While a stout economy car from today can probably out run one of these, in 1988, they were one of the fastest cars on the road.  The 5.0 liter Ford was a well respected engine in its day, and there are a literal ton of aftermarket parts for them to make these cars turn incredible quarter mile times.  Given that the SSPs had the reinforced floors and lighter weight, they were the car to have for drag racing duty.  It has only been lately, with rarity driving the prices skyward, that racers have begun to look elsewhere for project cars.  Unfortunately, attrition through racing has taken a toll on the roughly 15,000 built.

While this car has a lot of miles, it is still relatively stock and it does have a five speed.  The accuracy of the price can be debated, but nobody in their right mind thinks that this number will be considered anything but a bargain in a few years.  Third generation Camaros and Fox body Mustangs, rivals back in the day for sales, are seeing a surge in interest and a rise in prices for high quality and/or desirably optioned cars.  My guess is that this one will be worth a lot more in the near future, and now is the time to start writing checks and hunting restoration parts.

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Comments

  1. Nrg8

    Dunno, doesn’t appear to have any of the tells of being a former state trooper. Might have helped his case with photos of the factory frame bracing. No holes plugged from light bar. No holes in dash from screws holding police equipment. Usually when they were sent to auction they were not put back together so nice. Looks like a LX with air and delay wipers. I’m pretty sure the trooper cars were rubber floor mat as well.

    • Pete R

      From the ad: “Special Service Package offered only to law enforcement, this car was never in service. Sold new to a civilian.”

      • Fred W.

        Hmmmm- so if the package was only offered to law enforcement, how was a civilian able to buy one?

      • JamestownMike

        Probably a cancelled order that was sold to a civilian.

      • Mike

        I’m not sure if dealer’s weren’t supposed to allow civilan sales, but, I know my local dealer was more than willing to order one for me. I distinctly remember it priced out cheaper than an equally equipped non-SSP.

        The only problem was insurance. I was 19 at the time it killed any chance of me buying one.

  2. JamestownMike

    I LOVE the fox bodied coupes, especially the SSP (for ex-cop car coolness factor). Wish the seller had pics of the factory buck tags to prove the SSP, other than the SSP only unique options which included; certified speedo, reinforced floor/seat pans and relocated power trunk button. Most SSP cars had radio/antenna delete, manual windows, manual locks and base interior but that wasn’t SSP only. However, I’m not a fan of the blue interior (which most seem to have). I personally think this is a $5,000 car. If it was lower mile and was more stock, then I could see it getting closer to the 9 grand asking price. The seller might get $9,000 in the future but not now.

  3. Mac88Chp

    Those factory floor reinforcements were not for chassis flex but are quite small and only reinforced the seat tracks and bolts to keep them from ripping out of the floorpan. This was a running change to the SSPs after the seats were found to be prone to coming loose on the early cars.

  4. Nrg8

    Yes, I saw that part too. A friend has rcmp version. He said there are 2 tags behind driver headlight that are indicators even if they were never in service. Normal production only had one. All he said was “could be, seller should have put tags in ad, as there is little difference in the two models” . Also he found it odd that newer rims were on it, as these tend to be either coveted with low miles civilian condition, High miles but wearing service gear and colors and trashed beyond service. He also noted that Georgia had the 83’s and didn’t take interest in these again until 90.

  5. RH FACTOR

    Worked on a lot of them when the Florida Highway patrol used them , They were all standard shift and beat to death. Had square tires that made you wonder how they used them for pursuit! They used to cross the median and drive the radiator support up into the hood. Also, the radiator would get clogged with chaff and debris from same move, which caused them to run hot. Would bring in with the complaint that the A/C/ was inop. Well, the pcm would shut the A/C off at 229 degrees F, so that was the tell. Long time ago.

    • Superdessucke

      I know. I like the SSP concept but most of these were beat like NYC taxi cabs and most sellers price them like they have a COPO Camaro on their hands. Without the long-gone silicone radiator hoses and police seat frames this is a $2,500 Steed.

  6. Steve Visek

    Later

  7. John

    I’m pretty sure they had 160 Speedo’s . I think it’s just an lx

  8. KevinR

    Aftermarket headlights, wrong wheels, possible wrong interior, removed catalytic converter and a ton of miles. I’m going to agree with @JamestownMike: this is not a $9,000 car.

  9. Hide Behind

    BUY THIS, , SELL EVERY STOCK ITEM ON E-BAY AND BUY A NEWER STANG THAT EVEN BASE MODEL V6 WITH SLUSH BOX WILL GET BETTER MILEAGE WILE BEING A HECK OF A LOT BETTER ROAD STREET OR AT BRACKET RACING.
    THE NERWER ONE’s ARE EVERY WHERE AND ASKING LESS THAN THIS AUTO.
    maybe after the nuke apocalypse we Ight find one to run over zombies.
    Gotta be skinny zombies, because these tin cans are cheap cheap cheaply put together and running over a possum on road at 50 gets ya airborne or a ticket from PETA cop

  10. Mikey Gee

    Buck Tags tell the truth Marti Report too.

  11. Jay M

    These are a blast to drive with 373 gears.
    It would be hard not to put miles on it.
    But it’s far from being an original, low mile survivor, so it would be hard to justify the asking price.

  12. Don Sladek

    Here’s a better documented SSP on Craigslist in Minnesota, asking $17,400:

    https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/dak/cto/d/1989-ford-mustang-ssp-mustang/6347328910.html

  13. CanuckCarGuy

    No offence to the seller, but as a big 5.0 LX fan I’m not seeing the value here… modified, high mileage and lacking the ‘cool factor’ of having been an actual pursuit vehicle. A bit surprised that Ford would roll one out directly to a private citizen… rather than it being redirected to another agency for purchase, even at a discount.

  14. Rob S.

    A little high on the price but these are climbing in value, especially with history. Those of you looking for a “low mileage survivor” are dreaming. These were used on the city roads and highways everyday they were in service, racking up the miles. It’s what they were purchased for.
    They are really fun to drive and are definately different in the sea of muscle cars at the shows. I have had mine for 10 years. Saved it from a wannabe drag racer.

  15. Bill

    Had an 83 glx 5.0 with t-tops, swapped the rear axle for an i believe 84 ssp with new quad shock set up. Original axle has modified ladder bars that bumped up against lower control arm. Parted out a 90 lx convertible for factory five coupe. Many parts in great condition, glad to hear they are increasing in value, time to sell.

  16. z28th1s

    The ’93 Cobra’s are the most desirable and valued Foxbody Mustang’s, not the SSP coupes.

    I thought I remembered the trunk release button on the SSP cars being on the panel to the left of the steering column. I don’t see that on this car.

    • JamestownMike

      Yep, I noticed the same thing. Other than the certified speedo, wonder what makes the seller think it’s an SSP??

  17. TheDaddyRabbit

    It’s got the right speedometer. In ’88 they came with a certified 140 mph unit.

    Don’t be surprised about a civilian purchase of the car. Things weren’t as tightly controlled then as they are now. All you needed was a friend in the fleet sales department and you could get pretty much whatever you wanted.

    My father sold FLM for 30 years and you’d be surprised at what was available at the time. One of my Dad’s favorite cars that he got for a customer was an ’84 Grand Marquis with the police interceptor package and a 4 bbl 351.

    He said the coolest thing was seeing a Grand Marquis with the dog dish hubcaps. Those were promptly swapped for the standard alloys.

    http://www.automobile-catalog.com/car/1984/873755/ford_ltd_crown_victoria_4-door_5_8l_v-8_ho.html

  18. SSPBill

    SSP’s were ordered through dealers but they could always tack on one or two extra. SSP’s also included taxis and other fleet vehicles so there wasn’t any reason one couldn’t be registered privately. Ford just designated a block of cars right on the assembly line by stapling the aforementioned buck tags to the rad support along with a specific built sheet. Floor re-enforcement was only around the seats because standard floors would bend or break outright with officers getting in and out constantly. The LX seats were almost always broken when auctioned. 140 mph speedos were used sometime into ‘89. Roughly mid-year they changed to 160mph. Silicon hoses, which are missing on this car, and single key lock sets were also a difference. Below is a link to my car with a picture of the buck tags. Believe me, I am not an SSP nerd although this post may be a counter point. I was going the drag race route but decided it was better value to leave it alone.

    http://www.specialservicemustang.net/VINlist/CSP/1989CSP213361/info213361.htm

  19. Mike Williams

    The SVO is the most valuable Fox Mustang, especially the 85½. Good looks and racing underpinings.

  20. Steve

    I want one of these BAAAAD it would be a great garage mate to my 1991 LB9 5 speed B4C

    Like 1
  21. Lane

    This is a Oregon state trooper car, Oregon accidentally ordered double the cars, the would not accept the extra, Saleen bought most (very rare) and 3 or 4 was sold on Demonroe ford lot to public. this is one to public. Has all correct tags real deal have owned it and about 25 ssp. Goggle it, its a neat story.

  22. Dennis

    I have her 88 her LX SSP. Manuel trans,electric windows,rear window defroster,A/C. All orginal motor,tranny,orginal interior,. Runs well. Super sweet driving car. I have the real MC Coy!!

  23. Bill

    I’m curious, I bought an 88 LX 5.0 5 speed convertible with the interceptor logos and factory subframe supports but can’t seem to find any record of any convertibles with these options. Anyone know anything about Convertible interceptors?

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