The 3rd generation Mustang debuted in 1979 and was one of Ford’s Fox platform vehicles. This was the basic architecture for many Ford models of the 1980s & 90s including the Fairmont, Zephyr, Granada, Thunderbird, and more. The Fox Mustangs continued through the 1993 model year, with a restyling in 1987.
The 1979 Mustang was a vast improvement over the Mustang II in nearly every way, although the same engines carried over until 1982. It had a fresh, thoroughly modern style and did not carry over any of the design cues of previous models. Better suspension design and state of the art Michelin tires helped greatly improve the handling of these cars..
The performance revival began in 1982 with the return of the Mustang GT with its 5.0 V8, which topped the Camaro & Firebird for power and, given the Mustang’s weight being 400lb less, earned the Mustang the title of fastest car in America.
The convertible returned in the 1983 model year and looked great with the new body style.
In 1984, Ford created a version of the Mustang that it hoped would compete with the best performance cars from Germany. Called the Mustang SVO (from Ford’s new Special Vehicle Operations Dept.), this car was different from other Mustangs both visually and mechanically and was priced nearly $6,000 higher. It had a 2.3L turbocharged, fuel injected, intercooled 200hp 4 cylinder engine, extensively modified and improved suspension and brakes, and specific hood, bumper covers, side moldings, and rear spoiler. This model was only sold until 1986 and was a marketing failure. It was essentially just another Mustang and not unique enough to support the significantly higher price.
Mustang received a major facelift for 1987 with a more “aero” style, with Mustang GT getting its own unique look with a redesigned nose and lower body moldings. There were only two models offered: LX and GT in coupe and convertible form, and only the 2.3L 4 cylinder and 5.0L V8 engines. Driver’s side air bags were first seen in 1990. This model lineup proved quite popular and continued with only incremental changes through the 1993 model year.