One thing was clear: The Ford Mustang SVO was definitely not your father's pony car. Setting it apart were a distinctive "biplane" rear spoiler made of polycarbonate plastic, a specific grille-less nose (engine air entered from below the bumper and through a small slot above).
A large hood air scoop fed the intercooler, and dual square headlamps replaced the normal Mustang's smaller quads. A deep front air dam incorporated standard foglamps, and small fairings at the leading edges of the rear wheel openings helped smooth airflow around the fat tires.
Inside, the SVO boasted such driver-oriented accoutrements as a left "dead pedal" footrest, relocated brake and accelerator pedals for easier heel-and-toe shifting, an 8000-rpm tachometer, turbo-boost gauge, and multi-adjustable seats like those in the T-Bird Turbo Coupe. Also included were electric rear-window defroster, tinted glass, AM/FM stereo radio with speaker/amplifier system, leather-rim tilt steering wheel, and the familiar Mustang console with graphic warning display. Only six major options were listed: air, power windows, cassette player, flip-up glass sunroof, and leather upholstery.
The SVO was an enthusiast's dream come true. Handling was near-neutral, cornering flat and undramatic, steering direct and properly weighted, braking swift and sure. Performance? Exhilarating for the day, with 0-60 mph in about 7.5 seconds, the quarter-mile in just under 16 seconds at around 90 mph, and top speed near 135 mph.
Road & Track, long an advocate of Euro-style American cars, was ecstatic. "Given the existing Mustang platform, the Ford SVO team could hardly have done a better job of improving to world-class GT standards. Almost all of the things that R&T has stressed as important in a well balanced, universally drivable GT coupe have been incorporated few serious compromises…. [The SVO is] suitable for sustained fast driving on any you're likely to find…giving comfort and assurance all the while…. This may be the best all-around car for the enthusiast driver ever produced by the U.S. industry; we hope it's just the start of a new era."
But R&T was doomed to disappointment. So was Ford. In the end, the SVO it was just another sophisticated screamer that "buff books" liked and buyers didn't. And at over $16,000 out the door, it looked way too expensive next to the V-8 GT, which delivered similar style and sizzle for a whopping $6000-$7000 less. Ford thus retailed fewer than 4000 SVOs for model-year '84, though it had the capacity to build some four times that number.
Together, the V-8 and SVO killed off the Turbo GT after fewer than 3000 hatchbacks and about 600 convertibles were built for 1983-84. All early-'84 GTs, both V-8 and Turbo, were virtual '83 reruns except for a split rear seatback, also newly standard for most lesser hatchbacks, and substitution of solid front head restraints for the previous open type.
December 1983 brought several welcome changes, including Quadra-Shock rear suspension, a revised front spoiler, and closer SVO-style throttle and brake-pedal spacing to assist heel-and-toe artists. Keep reading to learn about the rest of the offerings in Ford's 1984 Mustang lineup.
Want to find out even more about the Mustang legacy? Follow these links to learn all about the original pony car:
- Saddle up for the complete story of America's best-loved sporty car. How the Ford Mustang Works chronicles the legend from its inception in the early 1960s to today's all-new Mustang.
- Mustang began a second revolution with the handsome, sophisticated "New Breed." In 1979-1981 Ford Mustang, learn how it scored big in the showroom and in fans' hearts.
- The Fox generation of Mustangs got a new lease on life with a 1987 restyle and further refinements into the early Nineties. Learn all about it in 1987-1993 Ford Mustang.
- The 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 351 was Ford's final high-performance Mustang of the classic muscle car era. Here's a profile, photos, and specifications.