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Mustang of the Day: 1984 Ford Mustang SVO

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Counting Down to the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang

1984 Ford Mustang SVO

Today’s Mustang of the Day: 1984 Ford Mustang SVO

In today’s installment of our 10-day countdown to the 50th anniversary of the Mustang on April 17, we wind the clocks back 30 years to a time where CAFE standards were firm and the threat of an energy crisis forced automakers to look for alternatives to the V8 muscle cars of old. Enter Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations Department, otherwise known as the SVO.

In 1984, SVO unveiled their take on the Mustang, and it was almost entirely unlike anything to ever wear Ford’s pony car nameplate. It sported a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four comparable to that of what was found in the disaster that was the Pinto. The engine was Ford’s first to use multi-port fuel injection, and it was also the first American model to use air-to-air intercooling. The 1984 Ford Mustang SVO also had “Quadra-Shock” rear suspension, ventilated four-wheel-disc braking, and a 3.45:1 final drive ratio.

These modifications enabled the 2.3-liter turbo-four to achieve 175 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque, which was quite impressive for the time. It was mated to a five-speed manual with Traction-Lok limited-slip differential.

The 1984 Mustang SVO also looked markedly different from its predecessor, thanks to its three-door hatchback Fox body and an entirely grille-less face. A cold-air hood scoop gave the SVO a sporty look, but perhaps most distinctive was its dual-wing polycarbonate rear spoiler.

On the interior, the 1984 Mustang SVO had relocated brake and pedal pads, a “dead pedal,” Hurst shifter, Lear-Sigler seats, and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Gallery: 1984 Ford Mustang SVO (Images Courtesy of

The Mustang SVO was a hit with publications such as Road & Track, who called it “[maybe] the best all-around car for the enthusiast driver ever produced by the U.S. industry.” However, car buyers simply didn’t get it, and a heftier price tag meant only about 4,500 of the 1984 Ford Mustang SVO were sold.

After three model years, the Mustang SVO was no more, but many of its design cues carried the Mustang through the rest of the third generation. While it may not have been a resounding success with car buyers, the SVO’s 2.3-liter inline-four certainly serves as something of a forebear for the turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost that will be offered with the upcoming 2015 Mustang. Clearly, the 1984 Ford Mustang SVO was about three decades ahead of its time.

Kyle S. Johnson lives in Cincinnati, a city known by many as “the Cincinnati of Southwest Ohio.” He enjoys professional wrestling, Halloween, and also other things. He has been writing for a while, and he plans to continue to write well into the future. See more articles by Kyle.