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its inaugural year, a 140-hp version had been available as an option; then Gas Crisis II struck, after which it was withdrawn.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.