Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company

The third model generation of the Ford Mustang was based on the Fox platform from 1977, on which all remaining RWD models below the full-size platform had been merged as part of the group's downsizing efforts, including the Ford Fairmont. 

As with the first generation, the Mustang was joined by a Mercury sister model, sold as the Mercury Capri. The new Mustang was initially available as a two-door notchback and a three-door hatchback coupe, which was followed by the convertible from the model year 1983. However, the cabriolet conversion did not take place at Ford but was taken over by the external partner C&C (Cars & Concepts) in Brighton, Michigan. 

Looking back, the third generation is now mostly divided into the 1979-1986 and 1987-1993 model years - the former is referred to as "Four Eyes" because of their distinctive quadruple headlights. The platform’s designation "Foxbody" is now used almost universally as a synonym for "Mustang".

The introduction of the Mustang came at a time when US manufacturers were facing considerable criticism in the aftermath of the oil crisis and when US consumer confidence in the "big three" corporations was at an all-time low. 


The sensational sales



The sensational sales figures for the Foxbody in that environment not only went against the spirit of the times, but also forced competitor General Motors to overhaul its F and Y platforms, which had remained more or less unchanged since the oil crisis, and to present them in their third and fourth generations in 1982 and 1983. 

The Foxbody Mustang also appeared at a time when the American aftermarket and performance industry, which had played a significant role in dealing with performance cars as late as 1970, as a result of the catalytic converter requirement, completely devastated by the oil crisis and the CAFE regulations. 

As a result, a significant portion of the aftermarket focused on the first and only truly new American performance car in nearly 10 years - making the Mustang an immensely popular drag racing platform which was an honor denied to the first and second generation counterparts.


1979 Model Year



In addition to the basic "Mustang" variant, the new Mustang was also offered as an upscale "Mustang Ghia" version, while a "Mustang Sport" optics package and the "Mustang Cobra" performance package were also available. 

Mustang and Mustang Ghia were available either as a hatchback or notchback, however, the "Cobra" package could be ordered for the hatchback only. Due to the unclear trademark law situation in Europe, early Foxbody Mustangs were still sold as "T5" in Europe - from the year 1979 onwards,  "Mustang" was also the official sales name in the continent.

The basic engine was a 2.3-liter four-cylinder with 88 hp, alternatively, buyers could also order the 2.3-liter as a turbo four-cylinder with 131 hp. Also optional was the traditional 302 cubic inches, 5.0 liter, V8 "small block" with 140 hp. 

Unlike previous generations, the Foxbody platform used a four-link rear suspension instead of the traditional leaf spring suspension. The front axle, including the rack and pinion steering of the Foxbodies, essentially corresponds to the famous front axle configuration of the Mustang II.The factory price for the base coupe was $4494 and for the base hatchback, $4828. 

On the occasion of the first use of a Mustang as a pace car in the Indy 500 race since 1964, the Mustang was also available as a pace car replica in a limited special series in 1979. At $9,012, the Pace Car was more than twice the price of the base version, but with 10,478 units produced, it was also significantly less "limited" than the Pace Car replica series of the past.


1980 Model Year




For 1980, Ford replaced the traditional 302 cubic inches, 5.0 liter "Windsor" V8 (named after the place of manufacture) with a new variant of the Windsor block design producing 255 cubic inches(4.2 liters) with 121 hp. The new V8 was thus still below the displacement of the original Windsor "small block" engine from 1962 which was 260 cubic inches / 4.3 liters. 

In keeping with the spirit of the times, the downsized V8 should not only improve the manufacturer's CAFE balance sheet but also pave the way for a new V6 that was expected shortly - the V6 revolution expected in the US vehicle market at the beginning of the eighties, however, did not materialize.

The range of engines remained unchanged, but the turbocharged four-cylinder made 112 kW (152 hp). Cobras got a revised front spoiler with integrated fog lights and a rear spoiler for the first time, Recaro seats were available as an option. 

For notchback coupés, the "Carriage Roof" option was added, which made the car look like a convertible with a closed top by means of a kind of "roof cover". This optical illusion even includes blackened window moldings.


1981 Model Year

"Mustang S"



1981, the "Year of the Dog," is widely regarded as America's darkest year of the post-oil crisis and the post-catalyst crisis in the auto industry. Sales of all sports coupes from all US manufacturers hit new lows, and the Mustang remained essentially unchanged. 

In addition to the basic and Ghia models, an "Economy" model called "Mustang S" was available as a notchback and with the 2.3-liter four-cylinder. "T-Tops" were optionally available for both body types.The automatic transmission was no longer offered in conjunction with the turbo four-cylinder engine.


1982 Model Year

1982 brought significant changes



1982 brought significant changes for the Mustang. The Mustang's traditional competitor, General Motors' F-platform featuring Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, was available after years of dormancy for the 1982 model year in its long-awaited all-new 3rd generation. 

Unlike the Ford Motor Company, however, GM had completely dispensed with four-cylinder and turbo technology - the new F-Body was offered with the 305 cubic inches(5.0 liter) small-block V8, optionally even with an electronic injection system and 165 hp.

Ford countered with a return to American values: the "European" Ghia model variant was dropped, the model range was restructured according to the traditional American three-tier "trim level" hierarchy, the Mustang was available as L, GL, and GLX. 

The name "Cobra", which Ford had often used for no reason or indiscriminately from 1968 onwards for a wide range of vehicles, parts, and engines, was also dropped in favor of a model name with real historical substance: the sporty Mustang was called "Mustang GT" again for the first time since 1969.

The range of engines from the previous year was retained, the turbo four-cylinder disappeared temporarily from the range after availability problems in the previous year. In addition, the 302 cubic inches, 5.0 liter V8 was reactivated under the option code 99F, with the additional designation HO for "High Output" and the camshaft from the 351 cubic inches 5.8 liter Windsor V8. 


Mustang SSP



A government version of the Mustang, the Mustang SSP (for "Special Service Package"), was available for the first time in the 1982 model year. This package was developed by Ford primarily at the urging of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), which had been searching for a light, and fast vehicle for traffic enforcement duties since the catalytic converter crisis. SSP Mustangs were predominantly LX-level sedan cars with 5.0 HO V8s and a number of police-specific modifications.


1983 Model Year

The first facelift of 3rd generation Mustangs came in the year 1983, so the front and rear have been gently revised. Above all, after a ten-year break, there was a Mustang Cabriolet again, as a GLX and GT. 

The 5.0 liter high-output V8 developed 130 kW (177 hp), the 3.3-liter six-cylinder engine and the 4.2-liter V8 engine was eliminated, the turbo four-cylinder returned with fuel injection and there was a new 3.8-liter V6 engine with 82 kW output.


1984 Model Year

The Mustang SVO



The Mustang SVO was offered for the first time. It was a performance variant of the three-door model with a 130 kW (177 hp) 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo engine, an extra-sporty chassis, and a modified front end. The SVO reached a top speed of 215 km/h and accelerated to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, but above all the much lighter engine compared to the V8 makes the Mustang react less top-heavy. 

The turbo engine without intercooler remained in the range with 108 kW (147 hp). The model range was rearranged and included L, LX, GT, and SVO. The five-liter engine was offered as a carburetor variant with 130 kW (177 hp) or with injection and slightly lower output (123 kW, 167 hp).


1985 Model Year

The front and rear sections were slightly retouched, the entry-level L model was dropped, as was the turbo four-cylinder (except in the SVO). The output of the five-liter V8 engine increased to 135 kW (183 hp) with an injection or 157 kW (213 hp) with Holley four-barrel carburetor.


1986 Model Year

There was a version of the five-liter engine with sequential injection and 149 kW (203 hp). The SVO received headlights that were flush with the body and an engine that was also uprated to 149 kW.


1987/1988 Model Years

The Mustang underwent



The Mustang underwent a comprehensive facelift with flush headlights and new front and rear aprons. The SVO and the 3.8-liter V6 engine were no longer offered. The GT received an eye-catching spoiler and rocker panel package. The five-liter engine, standard in the GT and optional in the LX, delivered 168 kW (228 hp).


1989 Model Year

The LX with the five-liter V8 engine, which was available at extra cost, was officially called "LX 5.0L Sport". Central locking and electric windows were standard equipment in the Cabriolet from 1989 onwards.


1990 Model Year

The equipment of all models was supplemented with a driver's airbag and rear three-point seat belts. The LX 5.0 received the chassis and tires of the GT but not its rocker and spoiler work. In 1990, a special series called the 7up Edition was produced for the 25th anniversary. 4103 of these were sold exclusively as green convertibles with a white interior and soft top.


1991&1992 Model Years

The 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine developed 78 kW (106 hp) thanks to dual ignition. The top of the convertible could be folded more compactly in the beginning of 90s. Detail changes to the body served to refresh the look towards the end of the generation.


1993 Model Year

The GT rolled



The GT rolled on 16-inch alloy wheels. New to the range was the Mustang Cobra special model, limited to just under 5000 units, with a 171 kW (233 hp) five-liter V8 engine, five-speed gearbox, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a special rear spoiler. Production of the 3rd generation Mustang ended in the summer of 1993 after a total of around 2.5 million units including around 270,000 convertibles and a few thousand SVOs.


Protecting 3rd Generation Mustang III

gen Mustangs manufactured

As we mentioned, there were over 2.5 million 3rd gen Mustangs manufactured. It is not a hard car to find and it a great first car for a new classical enthusiasts. They are also not very expensive but it is hard to find a good used version. 

Nowadays these cars are 30 to 40 years old and they really need all the care and protection they can get to survive. Ford knows about this and that’s why they officially partnered up with the Coverking company. Their extensive catalog is there for you and it is approved by the Ford Motor Company themselves. 

First off, you are going to need both indoor and outdoor covers. StormProof Car Cover is perfect for outdoor conditions and Satin Stretch Car Cover makes a wonderful addition for indoor garages. They will be the greatest step you will take towards protecting your vehicle. 

Your car’s interior is quite fragile, that’s why you also need to protect the interior from outside effects such as the sun, dust and moisture. We recommend a Molded Carpet Dash Cover and RhinoRide Custom Seat Covers. Don’t forget to pick up a Custom Fit Sunshield, you will need it when you’re parking under the sun. 



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Tankut Basar

Tankut Basar is an ARA (American Rally Assoc.) Racing Driver and an FIA Bronze Category License Holder. His passion for driving began with karting like most racers. He started racing internationally at the age of 22. Tankut loves everything car-related and will keep enjoying the drive until the end.