The Mustang saw a lot of changes during the ’70s. In 1971, the car became much more visually massive, though it still sat upon the earlier chassis, albeit with longer overhangs and a hood you could play pool on. That style lasted to 1973. Then it returned to its sporty compact roots with the Mustang II. That’s the one most Mustang owners pretend never existed, but they sold tons of them, and it carried on the Mustang nameplate while other pony cars like the Javelin, Barracuda and Challenger vaporized.
With the debut of the Fox-body ’79 Mustang, things finally started getting back on track, though the car had next to no traditional Mustang cues. It was an attractive, modern sporty car for the late ’70s, however. Then in 1982, Mustang desirability and performance levels got a healthy bump with the return of the V8-powered GT.
Actually, it wasn’t the first time the 5.0-liter, 302 cu in V8 had been available in the Fox-based Mustang. In 1979, its inaugural year, a 140-hp version had been available as an option; then Gas Crisis II struck, after which it was withdrawn. Its absence left performance-minded Mustang buyers to choose between a turbocharged four-cylinder mill or a smaller 120-horse, 255 CID (or 4.2-liter, if you prefer) V8.
That situation changed with the ’82 GT. The 302, now in “High Output” form, returned. Compared with the ’79 version, the 5.0 had been upgraded with new valves, a more aggressive camshaft, aluminum intake manifold and sand-cast pistons. In addition, GTs got cast-iron exhaust manifolds and a Y-shaped (2 into 1) dual exhaust pipe. The result of it all was a bump of 17-horsepower, to 157. Interestingly, the 4.2-liter V8 (with 37 fewer horses than the 5.0) was also available on the GT, but only with the automatic.
Of course, there were a number of visual cues to separate the GT from its more common siblings. The biggest changes were up front, where an exclusive air dam, unique grille, Marchal fog lights and a non-functional hood scoop made for a more aggressive face. Aluminum wheels, “5.0” badges on the front fenders, and a rear spoiler rounded out the changes. Additional and more-detailed information on the ’82 GT can be found here on www.mustanggt.org.
During the early ’80s, the Mustang just kept getting better and better. It could be argued that the 1982 model year marked the beginning of the Fox Mustang’s renaissance. Out of the 130,418 Mustangs made that year, 24,799 were GTs–a percentage that would increase as the ’80s advanced.
The 1983 GT received several cosmetic changes. While it looks nice–I especially like the blackout stripe on the nose with the die-cut “GT” showing the paint color in the corner-the ’82’s nose looked better in my opinion, more mean-looking with its front spoiler.
One year after the GT returned, a Mustang convertible reappeared after a ten-year absence. Finally, Ford was rebounding after having flirted with disaster during 1979-81. The Mustang II days were fading away quickly, and the future of the Mustang was looking pretty good.
To its credit, Ford did not rest on its laurels and continued to make improvements. In just a year or two, the Euro-inspired SVO Mustang would join the GT and convertible, making for a very diverse lineup-though the GT totally clobbered the rather pricey SVO in sales.
Here we have the special seats and upholstery of the GT. This kind of reminds me somewhat of the “mod art” seats of the then-contemporary Porsche 928. I like it.
Despite its Fairmont origins, the Mustang’s instrument panel included much more comprehensive gauges. By the way, that “Powered by Ford” plaque was added by the owner. Also note that it has a radio delete plate.
I spotted this choice ’82 back in September 2012, at a show hosted by my old employer, Dahl Ford. The featured club was the Quad City Mustang Club, but in addition to the fine selections of Mustangs–from ’65 to a then-new Gotta Have It Green ’13 GT–there were some cool cars of the non-Mustang variety, including a couple of ’85-’86 Cougars, a ’59 Edsel Corsair and even a ’78 Mustang II King Cobra. One of these days I need to break into those old car show photo files and write up some more for RG!