Though General Motors' new entries for 1983 were formidable competition, they did not cripple Mustang's appeal. To be sure, later "buff book" comparison tests echoed Road & Track's initial verdict, lauding the GMers for superior handling and more modern styling but usually picking Mustang as the more practical choice for day-to-day use. And where V-8s were concerned, the 'Stang was the clear performance choice.
In a showdown of 1983 models, Car and Driver reported 0-60-mph times of 8.1 seconds for the GT against 8.6 for a fuel-injected V-8 Camaro with automatic transmission, and a comparatively sluggish 10.6 seconds for a carbureted V-8 Trans Am with four-speed. Writing for the magazine's August 1982 issue, technical editor Don Sherman declared that "...in terms of sheer visceral appeal, [the Mustang] is right up there with the Porsche ."
Consumer Guide® Weighs In
Not all was bliss, however. In testing the GT's sister ship, the RS version of the Mercury Capri (the domestic Mustang twin replacing the European Capri for '79), Consumer Guide® editors judged the power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering irritatingly vague, overly light, and lacking in feel.
Wet-weather traction suffered from the V-8's ample torque of 240 pound-feet, peaking at a low 2400 rpm. The editors weren't able to evaluate handling fully because the test car arrived during one of the coldest weeks at their Chicago home base, and conditions were far from ideal. Even so, they found it easy to light the back tires in brisk takeoffs, accompanied at times by rear-end jitter through bumpy corners.
Sherman had similar complaints: "In left-hand sweepers, the gas pedal acts as a power-oversteer switch....That smooth two-step unfortunately turns into a jitterbug in right-hand bends, where power hop conspires to make life difficult."
But Dearborn's pony cars still had much to recommend them. Their interior was not only roomier but was more comfortable than that of the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. All were hatchbacks, but Ford somehow managed to provide a good deal more usable luggage space than GM. Most testers also preferred Mustang's manual gearbox for its lighter shift action vs. the truck-like Camaro/Firebird linkage.
There was division over the driving position, some preferring the snug, low-slung stance of the GM cars to the more upright "vintage" openness of the Ford products. Yet most agreed the Mustang/Capri was a far better compromise for the daily grind, where the manual-shift Camaro/Firebird could be tiring.
Many changes to the '83 GT addressed road-testing criticisms from auto reviewers. Keep reading to learn how Ford fine-tuned the '83 Mustang GT.
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.