Ah, the early Fox body Mustang coupe. I don’t think there’s another ride around that gets me all giddy other than it’s platform cousin, the Fairmont Futura & Zephyr Z7 coupes that sold on the dealership lots at the same time. I am not sure what it is about these cars that I find so appealing, but I will admit that I can spot the front or rear fascia of the 1979-82s from a distance and with ease!
The all-new European flavored Mustang made it’s debut for the 1979 model year, riding the fresh Fox platform that Ford would use extensively throughout the product lines after it’s initial introduction with the 1978 Fairmont & Zephyr. While the 1979 Mustang was woefully underpowered by many standards (this was the height of the Malaise era, after all) it’s fresh styling was a hit in base, Ghia or Cobra trim levels, with plenty of buyers lining up for the new Pony car.
For 1980, in an effort to meet strict CAFE standards, Ford would replace the 5.0L V8 with a de-bored version of the same in the 4.2L (255 ci) V8. This weak engine would prove unsuccessful for Ford and by 1982, the 5.0L was back in the line up with modifications to boost output to 157 hp, improvements would see this number rise to 225 hp for the 1987 model year and beyond.
Engine choices were carried over from the previous model year, the 2.3L ‘Lima’ four, the Cologne 2.8L V6, and the 5.0L V8 churning out a paltry 140 hp at the top of the pile. Ford would also add a turbocharger to the 2.3L four and offer this as alternate ‘top-end’ power plant for those with performance AND fuel economy in mind… it didn’t really satisfy either, of course. Supply issues would see the 2.8L quickly depart during the model year, replaced by the trusty 3.3L ‘Falcon’ inline six.
This particular 1980 coupe happened to be sitting in the parking lot out front, having it’s occasional trip out of the garage on a cool March afternoon. The most striking feature, of course, was the white vinyl roof, optional for the model year and certainly something that I have rarely seen in the flesh over the years, or in such great condition as this one. While it’s not everyone’s style, certainly a coupe with a vinyl roof is an extremely rare find today and adds to the appeal of this find.
The owner was more than happy to offer up some details on his ride, only the second owner over it’s 37 years on the road. I noticed right away that it was missing both Ghia badges from the interior doors with just the holes for the badge pegs remaining in the material. The car had received a paint job at some point in the recent past and this was likely the reason for the loss of both the ‘Mustang’ and Ghia badges to be missing from the right side of the trunk lid.
As expected, the 3.3L six and automatic was powering this coupe, an extremely common engine and transmission pairing for 1980. I must point out though, the lack of a centre console, which normally would be found in the Ghia package, but could also be deleted at the time of ordering. This is an interesting package, was it always ordered as a console delete, vinyl roof add plus intermittent wipers thrown in as the prize?
I did find out that the 1984 Capri RS that I photographed in the same spot some months ago (and I promise that I will get it written up and submitted one of these days!) belongs to the same owner, another early Fox Mustang lover who actually has a pair of these rides in his collection. Always nice to see these in the flesh 30+ years after their introduction, especially in such original condition!