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Why The Fox Mustang Is The Next '69 Camaro

The Fox Mustang Ensures Its Place In Automotive History

Photography by The Car Craft Archives

Many racers also favor the short wheelbase of the Fox Mustang, and of course, there's that weight thing again. It's fairly easy to get a basic drag race-spec Mustang down to 2,600 pounds while retaining the factory glass, mostly stock steel body panels, and a functional and comfortable interior. Cutting out heavy components can also be done using factory parts-the pieces to convert to manual brakes and steering are available on a junk four-cylinder LX near you. Though scarce, some 5.0s were built without A/C, and these delete brackets allow the elimination of excess weight while maintaining factory appearance.

We shouldn't overlook the Mustang's abilities on a road course. Although serious sporty-car types dismiss the Mustang and its live axle, the aftermarket has shown that a Fox-Stang can hang with the best of them through the turns. Autocross events usually turn out a fair number of Mustangs as well. While the chassis design of the Fox platform may not be ideal for handling, enough racers have brought home wins with them to prove that it can be made to cope with the twisties rather effectively, and there's a huge array of aftermarket parts available to help.

So there you have it. The Fox Mustang combines the right elements to win the favor of enthusiasts from coast to coast, and several drag racing series devoted to these cars generate e.t.'s running all the way down to the 6-second range. Even stock-suspended Mustangs routinely drive into the 8s, and the bar is being raised regularly.

Is the Fox Mustang the next significant car in the history of hot rodding? Without a doubt its future is already here.

5.0L Mustang Performance Timeline1979: The Fox Mustang is introduced with available 5.0L (302ci) 140hp V-8 engine with two-barrel carb.

1980: The V-8 engine option was changed from the 5.0L to a 4.2L (255ci) 118hp small-block. This engine would remain as the sole V-8 through 1981.

1981: Traction-Lok rear-axle limited-slip differential becomes an option for the Mustang.

1982: The Mustang GT package returns to replace the Cobra as the top performance model. The 5.0L V-8 is reintroduced as an option, carrying the H.O. designation with 157 hp, though still with a two-barrel.

1983: The 5.0L becomes the standard engine for the Mustang GT, now rated at 175 hp with a Holley four-barrel carb. Later this year the Borg-Warner T5 five-speed replaces the SROD four-speed as the standard manual trans for GT models. Traction-Lok limited-slip becomes standard on all 5.0L-equipped cars.

1984: GT models with automatic transmission receive a throttle-body fuel-injected version of the 5.0L rated at 165 hp.

1985: An upgraded version of the 5.0L becomes standard for GT models, featuring a hydraulic roller-tappet camshaft, tubular exhaust manifolds, a freer-flowing exhaust system, and a 210 hp rating. Aluminum 15x7 wheels become standard equipment for 5.0L-equipped Mustangs.

1986: Sequential-port fuel-injection is introduced for the 5.0L using speed-density air metering and is standard on both manual and automatic trans-equipped 5.0L Mustangs. True dual exhaust also becomes standard, as is the 8.8-inch rear axle assembly. The EFI 5.0L is rated at 200 hp.

1987: A cylinder-head change boosts the 5.0L's rating to 225 hp, and front disc brakes on 5.0L models are enlarged from 10 inches to 10.8 inches. The body is also updated with new "aero"-styled facias and lighting, and GT models receive new turbine-style 15x7 aluminum wheels.

1988: For California-only 5.0L Mustangs, the speed-density air metering of the fuel-injection system is replaced with mass-airflow metering. Power rating remained at 225 hp.

1989: Mass-air metering becomes standard for 49-state 5.0Ls. Plans for a special 25th anniversary model are shelved in favor of an anniversary stripe on certain white LX hatchback models.

1991: New 16-inch five-spoke wheels are introduced on 5.0L Mustangs and are standard on both GT and LX models.

1993: The horsepower rating is reduced from 225 to 205 despite the fact that no mechanical changes were made. Hypereutectic pistons replace forged units in 5.0L engines. The Cobra name is reintroduced as a new model with an upgraded engine. The package included special GT40 iron cylinder heads with bigger valves and ports, an improved cast-aluminum intake manifold, a 65mm throttle-body, a larger mass-air meter, and 1.72 roller-rocker arms. The computer was recalibrated accordingly, and the package was rated at 235 hp. A further upgraded version of the Cobra was offered in very limited numbers (300) for road race competition. Dubbed Cobra R, power remained unchanged though 17-inch wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, adjustable Koni dampers, and other suspension improvements were included.

Al Kirschenbaum
1734 Massachusetts Ave.
MA  02138
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