Nineteen eighty-three brought the first facelift for the new breed of 1982-1986 Ford Mustangs. The most obvious change was a rounded nose bearing a narrower, sloped horizontal-bar grille, good for a claimed 2.5-percent reduction in aerodynamic drag.
The running-horse hood emblem gave way to a blue Ford oval in the grille (another graced rear decks), and taillights were revised to wrap around from the sides and hug the central license-plate "shadow box." GTs sported a wide swathe of matte-black paint on the grille and the hood's modest central bulge.
Other '83 alterations included revised seat and door trim, a canceled standard roller-blind cargo cover for hatchbacks, more-legible gauge graphics, and less interior brightwork.
The base handling suspension was canceled, while the TRX suspension was divorced from its Michelin tires to make two options respectively priced at $252 and $327-$551. The pricey Recaro seats hadn't been popular, so Ford substituted more-affordable low-back front buckets with cloth seating surfaces and mesh-insert headrests ($29-$57). Leather upholstery (with the low-back buckets) was still available at just over $400.
Reflecting its new emphasis on aerodynamics, Ford deleted the hatchback's optional liftgate louvers and rear wiper/washer.
The 1983 Ford Mustang Convertible
The notchback Carriage Roof option was also missing, but it wasn't missed because the real Mustang convertible was back after 10 long years. Since the early Seventies, a number of small aftermarket converters had been doing good business by snipping the tops from Mustang notchbacks (and other cars) to satisfy a small but steady demand for top-down motoring. Ford wanted a piece of this action for itself.
Unlike the Buick Riviera and Chrysler LeBaron ragtops announced at about the same time, the Mustang was engineered in-house and mostly built at the factory. Only top installation was farmed out, Ford tapping Cars & Concepts of Brighton, Michigan, which more or less built those other two convertibles.
"[W]e decided that we wouldn't let the vendors do our job," Edsel Ford II told Car and Driver. "We would make sure that when someone buys a Mustang convertible, it lives up to our standards of quality."
A small area of the big Dearborn plant was set aside for turning notchbacks into convertibles. As C/D's Michael Jordan related, this involved removing the roof; reinforcing the windshield pillars and cowl/dashboard area; substituting stiffer rear-quarter panels; and adding side members (just above the rockers), a thicker taillight panel, and a stiffening crossmember between the rear wheel arches.
Like the Riviera ragtop but unlike the LeBaron, the Mustang convertible featured roll-down rear quarter windows and a tempered-glass rear window, plus standard power top operation. Any drivetrain was available save the four-cylinder/automatic combination, and any trim level at first so long as it was top-line GLX.
Despite a slightly intimidating $12,467 base price, sun-loving Mustangers happily snapped up 23,438 of the new '83 ragtops. Again, Ford had underestimated itself, having predicted only about 7000 sales for a long model year starting in mid-'82. A GT convertible was inevitable, and it bowed as a midseason '83 priced at $13,479.
The 1983 Mustang Turbo GT was a midyear addition that came in hatchback and convertible form. Learn more about the Turbo GT on the next page.
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.