Blue Oval Picks its Top Ten Favorite Fox-Body Mustangs!
Fox Mustangs are unique in their design because they make their own path. I mean, the Mustang II pays homage to the 1965 Mustang with design cues reminiscent of its predecessor. From headlight design to tri-bar tail lights. The same goes for the SN-95 Mustang in 1994—Ford tried to include design cues that went back to the original. The design of the S-197 and S550 are obviously retro—which brings us back to the Fox; aside from it being understood that it had to say “Mustang” and had to have a running horse, there’s nothing it its design that gives a nod back to the original.
That being said, the Fox Mustang is unique, but it’s just as much “Mustang” as all of the other generations. It’s fast, rowdy, and a bit rebellious…like a true Mustang ought to be. They’re great performers, look awesome, and have a loyal following of great individuals who continuously work to improve the breed.
So, what’s the best? If you had to compile a list of some of the most significant Fox-bodies, what would they be? Here’s a list compiled by Blue Oval Muscle, taking into consideration performance level, fun factor, collectability and significance. There’s a lot to choose from, so here’s the top ten Fox Mustangs to consider if you wanted to own a Fox.
10 – 1979 Mustang Pace Car
I’m sure we all know that this Mustang wasn’t placed on the list for its performance; it’s here because of the statement it made. It established the face of the Fox body Mustang. True, it still had a Mustang II-ish interior and those metric TRX wheels, but the graphics and color scheme was visually striking. It’s a safe assumption that virtually every Mustang enthusiast has either built a model of this car, or has an article of clothing with this fading running horse logo. Yes, I owned a Pace Car jacket.
9 – 1982 Mustang GT
The image of this car came with the bold statement of “The Boss is back”. Ford proudly displayed this Medium Red pony car so much that it seemed that it only came in red. But this four-eyed beauty sported an aggressive air dam with fog lights, a non-functional, but stylish hood scoop, a 157-hp, five liter (the FIVE-POINT-OH!) mated to a four speed trans. The specially tuned single exhaust gave it a mean tone, and who could forget the factory slapper bars?
8 – 1991-93 SAAC MK I and MK II
This is as close to a Fox-bodied Shelby as you’re going to get. Built by the SAAC Car Company, an offshoot of the Shelby American Automobile Club, they were intended to be a modern interpretation of the 1965 Shelby GT350. Every aspect of the vehicle was addressed, from custom interior, to the stripes, to the 5-liter with GT40 components. You could get it in any color you wanted, as long as it was white with blue stripes. Nineteen-ninety three saw the introduction of the MK II that offered more color schemes, and a lower-cost, SAAC Snake—basically a MK II but with a stock engine.
7 – 1986 SVO
True, the SVO came out in ’84, but it was in 1986 (1985 and a half, to be exact) when Ford’s venerable 2.3 turbo engine belted out a whopping 205 horsepower and whupped up on Camaros left and right. Not only that, but it came with 16-inch wheels, four wheel disc brakes, and unique styling cues that separated it from a Mustang GT. Ford’s turbo program was, and still is, trend-setting.
6 – 1987-1993 5.0 Notchback
Otherwise known as the coupe, it was the sleeper of the bunch. Standard interior and no ground-effects gave it a lighter weight, which meant that it was faster than a fully-equipped GT. Not only that, but the whole notchback design with a separate trunk made it stiffer, structurally, resulting in better handling. They were so popular that many law enforcement agencies began utilizing them as pursuit vehicles.
5 – Roush 25th Anniversary Prototype
In the pony car wars, it always seemed as if the Mustang would show up 48 cubic inches too short—but always pulled it weight anyway. How refreshing it was to see an actual Fox with a 351 under the hood, with twin turbos! Touted to be a ZR1 killer, the Mustang was commissioned by SVO as a possible 25th Anniversary Edition, and built by Roush.
It was rated at an extremely conservative 375 hp (more like 475), but proved to be too much for the chassis and driveline. Working on an abbreviated timeline, there was just not enough time to iron out the bugs, and it never made it to production, but the prototype is resting comfortably in Roush’s museum, so this is the only car on the list that you can’t buy.
4 – JBA Dominator GTB
Want something aggressive-looking? Then look no further in the JBA Dominator GTB. At the time, J. Bittle American, or JBA, built a wild Mustang for a popular magazine’s top speed shoot-out. Dubbed the “Dominator GTA”, it became the basis for a wide-body kit they later produced, and for a nominal fee, they’d build you one just like this out of your brand-new Mustang.
The ultra-wide fenders allowed for a set of steamroller-sized 17 x 11 wheels and massive 315 tires at all four corners. The full Dominator package came complete with a 450-hp Vortech-blown beast of a five-liter mated to a Doug Nash 5-speed. The suspension was upgraded and featured Wilwood discs at all four corners. Tested by Motor Trend back in 1989, it pulled a record-setting 1.08G’s on the skidpad.
3 – Steeda Mustang
There were a few companies producing signature vehicles for the Fox, and Dario Orlando’s Steeda Vehicles produced a well-balanced car starting in 1989. These handsome ponies featured a unique body kit, special wheels, a rear spoiler that was better looking than stock; almost like a mini duck-tail spoiler. Utilizing their rich racing history, they offered a plethora of suspension mods and chassis upgrades for their vehicles to compliment performance mods.
2 – 1993 Cobra and Cobra R
The 1993 Cobra and Cobra R were the absolute ultimate that Ford had to offer for the Fox body Mustang. The Cobra was distinguished from common GT Mustangs with its gorgeous 17-inch wheels, unique body work and rear wing, and the old-school SVO Mustang tail lights. Under the hood was a 235-hp 5.0 that sported its very own GT40 intake and cylinder heads.
Power was fed through a World Class T-5 trans, and the Cobra FINALLY came stock with 4-wheel disc brakes! It was a fitting car for the last production run of the body style. Ford also offered a lightweight race version, the Cobra R. Sans all of the sound deadening, and power windows; the car shed 450 pounds, but featured a stiffer chassis, 12-inch brakes up front, and special 17-inch 3-spoke wheels that were to be offered on the 1994 Mustang. Overall, they’re the best driving, best handling production Fox Mustang available.
1 – 1990-93 Saleen SC
If the Cobra was the best that the factory could build, the Saleen SC was definitely the best the aftermarket tuners could build. The 1990-93 Saleen SC was based on the ’89 SSC, but a little more user-friendly. Clearly, it was the best-looking with its unique color/stripe schemes and stunning Stern five-spoke wheels.
The engine options were either a normally aspirated 5.0 that ranged from 304-320hp (depending on the year), or a Vortech supercharged version that was good for 450hp. Either way, the Saleen is a winner all the way around.
There are others that didn’t make the list, so maybe we’ll make another one. In the meantime, what’s your favorite Fox?
Living in Richmond, Texas, PJ Rentie has been in the automotive industry for more than 30 years. This former Assistant Editor at Vette Magazine also spent time with companies like NOS, Edelbrock, Hillbank Motorsports, Classic Industries, and was an automotive instructor for Cypress College for ten years. In his spare time, PJ hopes to one day bring his Fox Body Mustang out of the back yard and back onto the street!