1984 Ford Mustang SVO: American metal, European performanceMon, 14 Apr 2014
If the 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra II isn't quite your thing, why not give the 1984 Ford Mustang SVO a try? In the Jan. 3, 1983, issue of Autoweek, we previewed a different take on the pony car -- one that promised "visual subtlety with unsubtle performance."
Built on the Fox platform, the Mustang SVO (for "Special Vehicle Operations") wasn't supposed to be a flashy package for the wannabe racer -- it was designed from the ground up to be a balanced road car, "a state-of-the-art performance vehicle for the absolutely no-compromises performance buyer."
And when we say "ground up," we mean it. Adjustable shocks sat at all four corners. The Borg-Warner five-speed transmission "strongly resembles the performance characteristics and feel of BMW's new Getrag" gearbox. It sat lower than regular Mustangs do, and it featured a set of very European twin spoilers on its rear. Then there was the motor, a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four cylinder. For the 1984 model year, that powerplant was good for 175 hp; by the end of the SVO's run, in 1986, that had been hopped up to 200 hp.
In many ways, this car was the opposite of the King Cobra. Instead of the King Cobra's hyper-aggressive body kit and graphics, SVO buyers got a relatively anonymous-looking, if clean, sporty two-door. It also had relatively small I4 instead of the King Cobra's honkin' V8...
None of this was accidental. "It boils down simply to this," a Ford official told us. "We wanted to do something subtle to show that Detroit can do something without being gaudy."
Do you think the Ford Mustang SVO succeeded?
Enjoy our full look at the hot new performer for '83 below. While you're at it, check out the drive review of the Maserati Biturbo and the hot Subaru sports car on the horizon. That'd be the space-age Subaru SVX, for the uninformed.
1984 Ford Mustang SVO first look in Autoweek
Ford Mustang at 50
The Ford Mustang turns 50 years old during 2014; to celebrate the many lives of America's favorite pony car, we'll be posting selections from our archives. Check out our Mustang mini-site where you'll find news, road tests, sneak peeks and even classic Mustang ads from the pages of Autoweek. We'll also have all the latest news and photos surrounding the redesigned 2015 Ford Mustang as it rolls out, so stay tuned.
By Graham Kozak