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  The Perfect Mustang Retro?

  Jun 30, 2002
  By:  All Ford Mustangs News Desk

Ever see a 1987-1993 Mustang LX convertible parked next to a cherry 1965 ragtop. How about a 1987-1993 Mustang LX coupe parked next to a sweet little ole '65 classic coupe? If you did, its hard to ignore the similarities or is it?

Contary to popular belief, the 1987 to 1993 LX coupe and convertibles actually resembles the original classic mustang more than you would ever suspect. Since Ford Motor Company opted to void our late model fox body Mustang, of all classic styling queues, it may not be so obvious to most.

You first need to look at the similarities in weight, dimensions, shape and overall body lines between the coupes and convertibles from both generations. Now keeping in mind the 5.0 liter engine is the direct descendant of the original 289 V8, picture the ’87 to ’93 body style redesigned with styling cues and interior/dash design from the classic mustang. You should then be able to see why this generation of Mustang, offered Ford the perfect base from which to build a retro styled Mustang.

Now look closer! The resemblance was truly remarkable.

As far as dimensions and body styles go, the late model 5-liter mustang has almost identical dimensions to the classic Mustang. The ’64-’65 Mustang’s overall length was 181.6 inches compared to the late model’s 179.6 inches. The width was also identical at 68.3 inches for the late model and 68.2 inches for the classic mustang. The body styles that were available in the early Mustang were the coupe, fastback and convertible. Either one of these could be fitted with the V-8 motor option. This is the same for the ’87-’93 Mustang.

The notchback represented the coupe, the hatchback represented the fastback and the convertible was the same for both. In the same manner as the classic, anyone of these body styles can be ordered with the V-8 motor. Looking carefully at the body styles of the notchback and the coupe, one can see that the vehicles resemble each other quite a bit. The roof comes down in the same place and the overall shape is the same. Even more remarkable is the convertible, which has the same body shape and lines as the classic ’64 or ’65 convertible. All that was really missing, were the classic Mustang styling cues.

While the attractive price of the late model mustang made it one of the better selling models, it was not even close to the original’s sales record. Although the classic Mustang was quite affordable, choosing the coupe with the V-8 option would have saved the buyer some money over the GT. This would be equivalent to the notchback LX or the hatchback LX which was much more affordable and still provided the performance of the GT.

Both the classic and late model fox body Mustang GT’s came in a smooth looking hatchback or fastback roofline and had as standard equipment a handling package that greatly improved the Mustang’s performance. Both GT generations came dressed in some of the best looking wheels that were ever put on a Mustang. The fastback was available in the highly sought after styled steel wheels. While the late model 1991-1993 GT came with the instantly popular “5-star pony wheels.” Both wheels sported a prancing horse center cap.

It is amazing to realize how much these two Mustang generations have in common and why both had such a huge impact on the automotive industry and motoring public.

The Ford Mustang was first introduced as a versatile and fun to drive sports car. The classic fastback came with fold down rear seats, as did it’s late model equivalent, providing additional and convenient storage space. Both provided o, which were quite convenient when it comes to storage space. This can be quite handy when transporting your off road high flow H-pipe and slicks from the race track. The interior space was also quite small in both vehicles. Although the late model Mustang was not officially considered a 2+2, that’s exactly what it was since it would not fit more people than four people.

The classic 2+2 fastback as well as the other Mustang body styles came with an interior option that is highly sought after by collectors today. That option is the “pony” interior, which had prancing horses stitched into the seats. This option was also available in the Limited Edition Mustang Convertible Feature Cars that were produced in 1993.

To further explain the similarities between these two generations, lets compare the legendary 289 cubic inch V-8 to it’s modern day equivalent, the 5.0 Liter V8, considered by many to be the best small block Ford ever produced. After the classic Mustang was first introduced, it was not long before Ford decided to spice up the car with a little horsepower heat. The hi-performance 289 cubic inch V-8 was never a slacker to begin with but Ford must have known that there would be a strong aftermarket for the new pony. And indeed there was. Ford offered a long list of “Cobra” parts that could be installed by Ford dealers to turn your high spirited Mustang into a quarter-mile stomping thoroughbred. The options included a Cobra cam, intake, as well as high performance heads that could be added on for an additional price.

Suddenly the Mustang turned into one of the best drag racing cars of its time and consistently won races in NHRA’s A/FX class. These cars were stuffed with 427 big blocks and produced quick quarter mile times. This can be compared to the Pro 5-0 drag races that are now held because of the excellent drag racing set up that came with the late model Mustang. Most of the Pro 5-0 cars use stroked 351 cubic inch Windsor motors to produce some incredible quarter mile times.

Just like the 289 V-8, the late model 5.0 liter was well ahead of its time as far as power, efficiency and durability was concerned. Starting in 1987, the Ford Mustang brought with it the most powerful version of the venerable 5.0 of its time. Rated at 225 hp and a stout 300 ft-lbs of torque this motor was capable of propelling a Mustang LX well into the low 14s and even high 13s as demonstrated by many car magazines. Within just a few short years, high performance parts were soon readily available and the floodgates were opened to the massive amount of high performance goodies available today. Ford led the pack by first introducing GT-40 intake and head combinations for the 5.0 engine. This was soon followed with the improved “Cobra” intake. The 5-Liter engine seemed to have followed in the same footsteps as the classic 289. Ford developed a Cobra package for the 5.0-liter, as it did for the original 289. Both engines were capable of producing incredible horsepower numbers. Both also had a strong and loyal following of hot-rodders and drag racers.

Was all of this a coincidence? Or was Ford just following a well-proven recipe for success when they introduced the ’87 thru ’93 Ford Mustangs. Whatever the case may be, the 1964 through 1971 mustangs are classics and it is not likely the late model mustang will be as highly sought after as those stylish sixties models. I do believe however, this particular late model generation of Mustangs, represents the modern day equivalent of our Classic Mustang that won people’s hearts in ’65.
As many of us already know, a new Ford Mustang will be rolling out of Ford’s stable in 2004 codenamed S197. There is much hype around this new Mustang as it promises to be more powerful, better handling and even more refined. When Ford began deciding on the style and design of the new Mustang, they had the idea of retro-styling it. The plan would include bringing back the famous styling cues of the vintage 1967-70 Mustang and possibly even the ’65-’66 design. All this in an effort to re-ignite the excitement the Mustang created when it was first introduced.

What Ford may not have realized however, was that the 1987 through 1993 Ford Mustang was so identical in terms of shape, dimensions and engineering to the ’64-’66 Mustang, it represented an ideal opportunity where Ford could have built the perfect retro-styled Mustang.

A car complete with the style and grace of the wonderful classic. Now that is certainly, one huge missed opportunity!


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