Crapwagon Outtake: 1985.5 Ford Mustang SVO

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
crapwagon outtake 1985 5 ford mustang svo

Imagine, if you will, that the beancounters in Dearborn had won the late-80’s battle over the enthusiasts and killed off the V8 Mustang in favor of what became the Probe. Forget the impact on racers and gearheads nationwide; no, the lyrical poet Van Winkle would have spun such different rhymes:


in my SVO

with the sunroof popped

so my hair can blow

It’s been more than 25 years since Ford offered a turbocharged Mustang — and what a classic. It’s the ur-EcoBoost, better known as the SVO with 2.3 turbocharged liters and 205 Pinto ponies. Fewer than 10,000 of these were built between ’84 and ’86. This ’85-and-a-half model was the first to get the better looking “aero” headlamps, rather than the recessed units fitted earlier. For just under $13,000, this 25,000 mile example looks like a steal. There seem to be a few for sale around this price at any given time.

I have to believe these will start appreciating soon. Bear with me: it’s a top-of-the-line Mustang, with a real performance bump over the pedestrian models — so it’s no tape-stripe-special Mustang II “Cobra” limited edition — with enough unique bits that poseurs can’t “build” one from catalogs and junkyards. These will be sought after at the auctions in about ten years, I’d wager.

I have a neighbor that owns an SVO. I don’t know the year, as I’ve only ever seen the rear in the 10 years I’ve lived in the neighborhood. That unmistakable biplane rear spoiler catches my eye as I round the corner every day. I don’t know that it’s moved under its own power in all that time. Shame, really, though I can’t say much. I’m going on about two years immobile on my Miata-shaped garage shelf. Anyhow, I’d love to get behind the wheel and experience an SVO before all of them get parked and polished into oblivion.

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  • Otaku Otaku on Jul 18, 2015

    Man, I almost bought one of these back in 1989. I remember test driving one at my local Ford dealer in the same color as the one in the above pic. However, my older brother already owned an '87 Mustang GT, so I wanted to go in a slightly different direction. A few weeks later I found a slightly used '86 T-Bird Turbo Coupe. Black on the outside with the bordello red interior, which featured the most comfortable velour power driver's seat I'd ever sat in. It was based on the same familiar Fox chassis as my brother's GT, but it shared the SVO's engine (sans intercooler). It was not quite as powerful or sporty as the Mustang, but the tradeoff gave you greater comfort, a much nicer looking interior, more passenger space (especially in the back seat), better visibility, the ride was a lot less harsh and there was more sound insulation. Basically, it felt like more car for less money. Plus, I really preferred the T-Bird's aero styling over the Mustang's angular appearance. I only kept the car for about eighteen months before circumstances forced me to sell it (for $500 more than I paid for it). Compared to my brother's Mustang, it just seemed to be screwed together with a bit more care. I also appreciated the better gas mileage, the lower insurance costs, and the greatly reduced likelihood of ending up sideways while driving during the winter months. If I ever hit the lottery, my dream project is to find a clean example that's been stored away in a barn or something for about the last thirty years, buy it and then completely customize it, changing out just about every part, except for the seats.

  • Kendahl Kendahl on Jul 18, 2015

    I test drove one of these early in 1985. Until the turbo kicked in, it behaved like a gutless 4-cylinder Mustang. I ended up buying a year-old RX-7 GSL-SE which I kept for 23 years.

    • DenverMike DenverMike on Jul 19, 2015

      That's part of what sold it to me. The turbo surge. Pinto then Monster. Ok, besides it being the loudest I'd ever heard. But it hits you all at once as you get sucked deep into the seat. On the street, you can only go WOT for short bursts anyways. So you plan for it a full second in advance. V8 power is mostly flat, linear. Good too, but no drama. But I enjoy the 40 to 60 blasts, way more than 0 to 60.

  • Inside Looking Out I used True car once in 2014 and got a great deal. The difference is that you do nothing but dealers call you. No haggling but you can get the same deal browsing inventories on dealers websites. It just matter of convenience, Rich people delegate job to someone else because time costs more.
  • Jeff S Adam on Rare Classic Cars has a new purchase a 1968 LTD Brougham just over 9k original miles. He really finds some gems.
  • Jeff S @Lou_BC--Diamonds are not really rare DeBeers dominates the diamond market and created the market with advertising starting in the 1930s thru the 40s. Before that time diamonds were for the most part considered for the wealthy and diamond wedding rings were not that common. Go back 100 years and most women wore wedding bands made of gold, silver, or other metals. DeBeers dominating the diamond market also controls the supply of diamonds keeping the prices higher by restricting supply. Sound familiar? Oil companies have learned to restrict supply of oil as well.
  • Statikboy So they named it after the worst cracker."Perhaps that’s why the autonomous dream appeals to so many - they’ve never experienced satisfaction, or even fun, whilst operating a motorcar.""This 2022 Mazda CX-30 Turbo, for example, can certainly handle the drudgery of the daily commute with aplomb but can make a detour on a twisty two-lane a bit more enjoyable."While the autonomous dream doesn't appeal to me at all, I think the reason that it does appeal to so many is because it theoretically has the potential to make the drudgery of the daily commute a bit more enjoyable.
  • Jeff S Arthur and I might be in the minority but we miss cars like this. We will never see cars like this again and it is what it is. I did like driving my mothers 72 Sedan Deville and her 84 Chrysler 5th Avenue with leather interior and Boise Dolby stereo along with some of the other luxury cars I drove from this era. At least I got to experience them and if I want more I can always read Corey's well written articles and watch Adam on Rare Classic Cars.