Junkyard Find: 1986 Ford Mustang LX Hatchback

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
Because the 1979-1993 Fox Mustang remains so popular with enthusiasts, I don’t find so many non– crashed examples in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent. In fact, these days I see more 1974–1978 Mustang IIs than I do Fox Mustangs (unless you consider the 1994-2004 SN95 Mustang to be a true Fox). Last week, I found this very solid ’86 Mustang LX hatchback in a Denver yard, and my camera was ready for it.
The LX was the entry-level Mustang for 1986, and you could buy it in notchback, hatchback, or convertible form. The notchback was the cheapest, with MSRP starting at $7,189 ($17,910 today), while the more popular hatchback cost $7,744 ($19,290 in 2021 bucks).
For that price, you got the base engine: the 2.3-liter “Pinto” four-banger, rated at 88 horsepower. That’s what’s in this car. The 3.8-liter V6 and 5.0-liter V8 were available (120 and 200 horsepower, respectively) in the LX at extra cost.
A three-speed automatic transmission in the 1986 LX ran the buyer an extra $510, a painful $1,270 when figured in 2021 dollars; the four-speed overdrive slushbox went for a staggering $746 ($1,858 today). If you wanted the five-speed manual instead of the base four-on-the-floor, that added $124 ($309 now). This car has the five-speed.
Air conditioning was optional on every 1986 Mustang except for the high-zoot SVO, and it tacked on $762 to the bottom line (nearly $1,900 today). What the heck, once you’ve paid the extra for the additional transmission gear, might as well have refrigerated air.
The original build sheets, exposed when some junkyard shopper bought the carpets, remain stuck to the floor. I doubt anyone would ever restore a Pinto-powered Fox Mustang to its original condition (had this car stayed on the outside, a V8 swap would have been a near-certainty), so this isn’t as cool as finding the sheet for a Cyclone Spoiler.
It wouldn’t have been at all quick, but it was a good deal on a sporty-looking commuter that sipped gas… and now it faces the cold steel jaws of The Crusher.
The sheer thrill of driving a four-cylinder LX wouldn’t have been particularly vivid, though it was better than what you got with an Escort Pony.
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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • El scotto El scotto on Aug 23, 2021

    I sweat every Hertz mustang convertible was a 4-banger. I'm gonna be rude about this. Fox body Mustang GTs are old enough and cheap enough just about anyone should be able to afford one. Just the drop the dime and budget for Crest white strips. You'll be smiling all the time. Former red Mustang GT convertible mustang owner here. Rag-top down, 5.0!

  • 6250Claimer 6250Claimer on Aug 24, 2021

    That shift boot is a molded piece of rubber and is ALWAYS in that exact same state of appearance - every crease, fold etc is 100% static and stays in the same form permanently. SO cheesy.

  • AZFelix The younger demographic is also more likely to have a septum piercing. So there's that to consider when evaluating the profundity of their decision making.
  • Haze3 The main advantages of this scheme would seem to be low/isolated pollution (single source NG) and high uptime. Electric is definitely better for net particulate at worker level and may also be preferred for long term maintenance.This said, the CA grid runs a little under 40% fossil fuel (pretty much all NG), so charging these trucks directly from the grid would have lower emissions than generating directly from 100% NG. It would also be more power efficient. However, it's likely that supply reliability and cost would be worse (this cuts out the power co). This is a LOT of charging.Overall efficiency should be equal to or a little worse than direct NG fueling, depending on NG generation process type. Should run 30-40% vs. 40% for direct NG fueling.
  • Canam23 When I moved to France a little over two years ago, one of the first things I noticed is the French buy French... everything. Seven out of ten cars you see on the road are French. When you go to the Home Depot equivalent, almost all the products are French or European Union, even the food in the grocery stores is labeled as being produced in France. This probably isn't surprising from a country that makes its own airliners, fighter jets and submarines but coming from the US where so much is imported from outside and especially from China, this was a revelation. Does France have protective tariffs? Yes, but nothing over the top. The French are proud of their products and they enjoy their employment and the benefits they receive. They do sell a Chinese brand here, MG, and you get a bit more for your money, but not much.If Americans had the same attitudes as the French, there might be a lot more manufacturing jobs in the US.
  • Fred Remember when "made in Japan" was cut? Face it people bought 10 year old Fiats made behind the iron curtain. People will always shop price, the rest be damned.
  • FreedMike Wow, and here I was thinking the EV haters were raring to go out and buy one, and then this. Tragic.