Sailing into the final seasons of its 1982-1986 design generation, the 1985 Ford Mustang could lay claim to being many things to many people and an uncommonly good sporty-car value for all of them.
The '85 price range ran from just $6885 for the LX notchback to $13,585 for the top-line GT convertible and $14,521 for the slow-selling SVO. Though much costlier in raw dollars, those figures were mighty competitive for the time, especially once a stronger yen began boosting prices of four-cylinder Japanese models that couldn't match the V-8 Mustang for performance or charisma.
Both those qualities were enhanced for 1985. Low-friction roller tappets and a new high-performance camshaft lifted the carbureted H.O. V-8 to 210 horsepower, an impressive 35-horsepower increase. Similar changes brought the fuel-injected 302-cubic-inch V-8 (still restricted to automatic transmission) to 180 horsepower. As before, the H.O. was available only with five-speed manual, which came in for revised intermediate-gear ratios and a more precise linkage.
Also improving the GT were beefier P225/60VR15 "Gatorback" tires on seven-inch-wide cast-aluminum wheels, both lifted from the SVO, plus variable-rate springs, gas-pressurized front shock absorbers, higher-rate rear shocks, and a thicker rear antiroll bar. A three-spoke SVO-style steering wheel freshened the interior (a running change from mid-'84), as did revised dashboard and door-panel trim and comfortable new multi-adjustable bucket seats by Lear Siegler.
Elsewhere, the cheap L models were canceled and remaining Mustangs got an SVO-style nose cap with integral air dam and a simple air slot above the bumper.
The SVO itself returned at midyear with flush-mount "composite" headlights, newly allowed by the government, plus 30 more horsepower from a hotter cam and exhaust system, larger fuel injectors, and a revised turbocharger with higher boost pressure.
This basic 205-horsepower engine was also used for a short-lived revival of the Turbo GT, which vanished again after miniscule sales. Its vastly more popular V-8 brother kept trading points with the 1985 Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird in magazine showdown tests. In all, Mustang attracted about 15,000 additional buyers for the model year.
For the '86 model year, Ford made few changes to the lineup, and still Mustang saw decade-high sales of nearly a quarter-million cars. Keep reading to learn how, at the tail end of this design generation, the Mustang was still making drivers happy.
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.