(first posted 4/17/2014) This Mustang is the car that almost wasn’t. If Ford had stuck to its original plans, a very different Mustang would have been on the market by the mid-1990s.
The original Fox-bodied Mustang was looking long-in-the-tooth by the late 1980s. When it debuted in the fall of 1978, the Fox-platform Mustang was a breath of fresh air for the industry in general, and Ford in particular, which seemed determined to turn every coupe into a smaller version of the Lincoln Continental Mark IV. After a great first year, a combination of the second fuel crisis, a severe recession and Ford’s substitution of the miserable 255 cubic-inch-displacement V-8 for the venerable 302 sent sales tumbling.
For 1982, Ford crowed that the “Boss is back,” as the 302 V-8 returned for the GT version, and the 255 V-8 was mercifully dispatched. Build quality improved as Ford really did work to make quality control Job 1, and the convertible reappeared for 1983. Mustang sales rebounded as gas prices declined and the economy improved.
No good thing lasts forever, and it soon was time to think about a new Mustang. Ford’s bean-counter driven management thought that it had the perfection solution – base the next Mustang on a front-wheel-drive Mazda platform. Ford could spread costs over a larger volume of cars, and reap the benefit of Mazda’s engineering prowess.
This actually wasn’t a bad idea. Ford would use the same strategy with good results for the second-generation American Escort. Unfortunately, in this case, it was applied to the wrong car.
Basing an American icon on a Japanese front-wheel-drive compact touched a raw nerve in the 1980s. A furious backlash ensued, as Mustang fans inundated Ford headquarters with letters decrying the possibility of a “Maztang” and accusing Ford of performing a “Mazdectomy” on the original pony car.
During this era, electronic mail was largely limited to government employees and computer buffs, meaning that most Mustang fans who wanted to vent their frustrations to Ford actually had to sit down, type or write a letter, stamp it and drop it in the mailbox. Faced with this level of passion, Ford quickly changed course, and the car originally proposed as the next Mustang appeared in 1989 as the Ford Probe.
This left a big question unanswered – what to do about the next Mustang? Ford management formed a special team dedicated to the new Mustang, with instructions to deliver it quickly and under stringent cost targets. This can be a formula for trouble – the bittersweet saga of original Dodge/Plymouth Neon is proof of that – but in the case of the Mustang, it worked. It helped that the new car was based on an updated version of the old Fox platform, and carried over the 5.0 V-8, while dropping the 2.3 four in favor of the standby 3.8 “Essex” OHV V-6 as the base engine.
When the new model debuted for 1994, it looked fresh while still looking like a Mustang. The side vents from the original Mustang returned in modified form, as did the galloping chrome pony on the front. There were enough improvements to keep loyalists interested and the general public intrigued. Even more importantly, in that curious way Ford has when it does it right, its vices seemed to be part of the charm. A few rough edges made it seem authentically American, or least something that would have pleased ol’ Henry.
Buyers responded enthusiastically–not with “Mustang fever” as they had in 1964, but enough to keep the car viable in an increasingly difficult marketplace. The Mustang soldiered on through the 1990s and early 2000s, triumphing over its GM foes. (The Ford Probe, meanwhile, died after 1997, as the market swung away from front-wheel-drive sport coupes.) By the time GM threw in the towel on the Camaro and Firebird at the end of the 2002 model year, the Mustang was outselling both of them combined.
The Fox-based Mustang would receive one more styling update, along with structural improvements, for the 1999 model year, before its ancient platform was finally retired for the even more nostalgically styled model that debuted for 2005.
What about this specimen? Unlike San Francisco or Eugene, a 15-year-old daily driver is considered an “old car” in Harrisburg, where road salt is regularly used in winter. It is not uncommon to see 10-year-old vehicles with signs of rust. Cars from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s have largely disappeared from the streets–they are either show queens or in the scrap yard, waiting for their next life.
It was thus surprising to see this 1994 or 1995 GT coupe regularly parked in a reserved parking space in Harrisburg’s Capitol complex. Particularly since Mustang GTs from this generation are now popping up at local classic car shows, either in modified form or as lovingly preserved originals.
For 1994 and 1995, the GT sported still sported old but trustworthy 5.0 V-8–the overhead cam 4.6 V-8 would not arrive until 1996. By this time, the 5.0 V-8 had the level of aftermarket support and enthusiasm that had largely been reserved for the Chevrolet small-block V-8. It only took Ford about 40 years to figure out how to achieve that goal.
Ford took the trademark Mustang taillights and laid the dividers on their side for 1994 and 1995. These taillights were criticized for their similarity to the taillights on a contemporary Pontiac Grand Am. By the mid-1990s, having your styling compared to that of a Pontiac was not compliment. How the mighty had fallen.
This car has patina galore. The black paint is peeling from the roof,
and the front bears a few battle scars. It obviously is used as a daily driver, something that would also probably please ol’ Henry. Like its more numerous V-6 powered brethern that are also still spotted on the road around here, it soldiers on. Not too bad for a car that almost wasn’t.
I have a minor “thing” for these. I consider this series of Mustang to be the most attractive of all of the fox Mustangs, and I would really like to own a 5.0 GT convertible from 94 or 95.
Back about 1995, a younger brother and his wife bought one of these – a black GT coupe with a 5 speed. They had to fly out of Indianapolis for a week, and they left the car in my driveway. My brother told me that I was free to use it, but I could tell from the look on his new wife’s face that he lacked actual authority to lend out her brand new car.
It killed me to leave it all week, but at least my daily driver at the time was a 68 Newport, so the lure of the V8 was largely sated on a day to day basis. I did take it out for a brief spin once. My-oh-my, but was that fun. Suddenly I was back in 1965 when my Dad got a stick shift Mustang fastback for the weekend when his boss’s son needed Dad’s company wagon. There is no feeling like a strong V8 mated to a nice feeling stick shift.
I’ve never really gotten turned on to this generation of Mustang. My favorites (other than my Dad’s 67) are the mid 80s (when the 5.0 got interesting again) to 1993 models and then the current 2005+ retro theme.
I’m with Dan. I actually like the last of the boxy Foxes, 91-93-ish. They stripped off the remaining black trim and painted them bright colors. A yellow non-hatch LX from this era would be fun, as long as you kept plenty of cinder blocks in the trunk.
I saw one of these in a Ford dealer’s front row recently – a maroon notchback coupe with the 5.0, GT wheels and the dual exhausts, in really nice shape. Although I like the 94-95 better, my college-age son liked the older one. And I gotta admit, it would be fun smoking unsuspecting folks at a traffic light with a plain-jane notchback.
These aren’t bad, but ’87-’93 Notchback LX’s w/302 were the winning ticket. BTW – briefly owned a cherry ’86 3.8L V-6 LX notchback. With an ’82-’83 style GT exhaust (Flowmaster), it woke that little “boat anchor” V-6 up.
I always liked this body style, mainly because my dad was moved to Tulsa, from LA, and needed a new car since he wasn’t getting a company car. So he got a V6 manual in deep forest green, which Ford only made for two years. It was a sharp looking car and it has aged very well (the look, not necessarily the cars).
Looking back, it wasn’t very quick, but worked well for around town and out on the open roads. Returned phenomenal mileage, around 28 on the highway. Loved riding in it, and we’d take it to church on Sundays. It may not have been a special model, but it sure was cool when other kids parents had a Taurus (well, we also had a Sable wagon).
We moved to Houston and my grandparents gave us their 79 Cutlass Supreme Brougham since they bought their “last” vehicle when retiring to Anacortes…an Outback. My dad sold the Mustang and commuted on the Metro bus. Probably better off, as the 3.8l suffered headgasket failures, and that most likely would have happened under my right foot.
I owned a 1996 version which was the first year of the 4.6L V8. Wasn’t super powerful or fast with the automatic (felt about the same as my ’78 Z28 with the 350cid and 4spd) but great fun in the winter. Ended up selling when the insurance costs sky rocketed after we moved back to the “big city”.
You don’t want a 3.8L V6 car from this era – they had an appetite for head gaskets.
I could never warm up to this generation Mustang. The roof looked like it sat on the body like a removable hardtop. Make mine from the years just before.
I guess I’m just a Mustang fanatic…the only ones I don’t care for are the 1971-73 Clydesdales and the infamous Mustang II!
I’d be happy with one from this generation, or one of the 1979-93 models.
Clydesdales, eh? 🙂
I actually like those, though the space utilization is absurd. Always thought though that the ’71 Mustang should have been the Torino, while the Torino should have been the LTD/Galaxy, and the Maverick (with different trim and specs) should have been the Mustang. A more square-bodied version of the Maverick could have been the Falcon. Seems a winning lineup to me…
The styling of the ’94 Mustang always left me cold. Like Paul says, the roof sits there looking removable — and at an odd angle, like it might slide off. It’s pretty darned ugly. And the automatics have that hideous slender, curved shifter that looks like something inspired by billy goats. This and the Mustang II are the only Mustang incarnations I actively dislike and would promptly sell if one were given to me.
It’s funny you should say that, because I remember reading when these cars were first previewed to the press that there would be a detachable hardtop for the convertible that looked just like the coupe roofline. I’m not sure if they ever actually marketed such an option, but I’ve certainly never seen one, and I don’t remember ever seeing it on the factory options lists.
Yes! The hardtop was an option for 1995 Cobras . There were some slight differences between a regular convertible and the hardtop convertibles to accommodate for the mounting mechanism of the hardtop, if I recall correctly, so they had to be ordered as hardtop convertible models – you couldn’t just pick one up at the parts counter later. I think they only came in black too.
The effect of the true pillarless hardtop look on the car is stunning – with all four windows down, the car looks like a menacing piece of ’60s iron. If I had time, space and money for a project like this, I’d pick up some extra coupe and convertible parts cars and turn my ’96 into a pillarless hardtop.
Looks good. Says just under 500 were built, but can’t verify that number.
That’s how I would have ordered mine if I hadn’t been 16 and broke when these showed up. That hardtop make the car.
The roofline on the coupe is a bit off, but when you drop the top on the convertible that all just goes away and it looks so much better. It does look like they designed the convertible first and then figured out how to add a roof to the coupe.
I grew up in a GM family and was never really a Mustang fan. But five years ago a black 95 GT 5-speed convertible sort of fell into my lap, and I have to say I really enjoy it. It’s got some patina, it’s loud, rough, and really doesn’t go or handle that well by current standards, but there’s really nothing like putting the top down and listening to that V8 rumble while cruising around town.
They too leave me a little bit cold. The prior generation has more allure for me particularly a 1985 GT 5 speed which would have been the last year for a carb 302.
Thank you, Paul, for running this piece.
This car just caught my attention – the GT versions aren’t that common as daily drivers, and the owner of this car was important enough to rate a reserved parking space right in the heart of the Capitol complex. Most people this high up on the state goverment food chain aren’t driving well-worn 16-year-old cars to work.
I’ve always like this generation of Mustang, particularly the GT version with these larger wheels. They have a nice, lean style about them that manages to look less dated than the contemporary GM F-body.
There are plenty of V-6 versions still chugging along in this area, so either the notorious head gasket problem wasn’t as common in Ford’s rear-wheel-drive cars, or this problem is easily corrected.
Mint or near-mint GT versions from these years are now showing up at the car corrals for the various Carlisle car shows. If only I had the money, I’d be very tempted to buy one…make mine a light metallic blue convertible or coupe, with these wheels, and a leather interior!
The RWD versions did not seem to have as big a problem as the FWD version for what ever reason. Also the redesigned gaskets whether OE Ford or Fel-Pro largely eliminated the issue. With good gaskets the 3.8 will last 200K or more.
That’s correct; malady of this era (’94) usually found on the FWD variants w/3.8 V-6, usually the Continental.
The 94-98s never really grabbed me. They were a bit too feminine or soft for my taste. The 99-04 cars did get my attention though.
It’s amazing what a slight refresh can do to a car.
Hmm. I felt the opposite — I thought these weren’t bad, if a little rental car-ish (and not to my tastes), but the ’99 redesign always struck me as contrived, especially as they ladled on more fake scoops.
I remember when these came out… at the time they were lookers, big improvement over the old Fox body Mustang, but wow, they were slow. When the 94 came out, my freind’s dad bought a brand new convertible GT, with the auto. We took it out for a late night spin to see what it could do. What a disappointment! I know the convertible was heavier, and the auto was horrible for performance, but it just had no punch.
Looking back now, I dont like the looks of these 94-98 cars. I would rather have a 91-93 LX5.0 hatch (I know the notch is lighter but so ugly!), or a 99+ GT. Either of these, if you can find one that isnt beat to death, is cheap and fun. If I had the LX5.0, I would get the SVO front end and dual-deck spoiler, always loved that look!
” It only took Ford about 40 years to figure out how to achieve that goal” Oh please! The small block Ford was kicking Chevys butt on the track as early as mid ’62 thanks to Shelby, and piling up trophys before most people had ever seen one. Unless you happened to buy a 62 Fairlane. Or a Cobra
The small-block Chevy ruled the roost until the mid-1990s. Victories on a race track aren’t worth much unless they translate into hardware for the streets. Race track victories are not the same thing as after-market support for a particular engine or vehicle.
Even the late Don Frey, the person Ford insiders credit with the concept that became the original Mustang, admitted that Ford largely sat out the muscle-car era. Chrysler and Ford may have gone tooth-and-nail at each other on the race track in the mid- and late 1960s, but on the street it was Dodge and Plymouth versus Chevrolet and Pontiac.
The reviews of the original V-8 in the Fairlane noted that it was hardly a scorcher. The enlarged 260 and 289 variants were better. I’m not saying that any of them were bad engines – the 260 and 289 versions were excellent engines for their intended purpose (which was providing sprightly, but not blistering, performance for family sedans, wagons and hardtop coupes), and were much better than Buick’s aluminum V-8 engine.
But on the street, Ford was largely an also-ran in the performance wars during the 1960s. And I say this as a Ford fan.
@geeber, I have to agree, the factory Fords just didnt have the punch of the factory GM engines. I think you could build a great Ford motor, but Ford didnt do it for you…
I built a 260 V8 back in the 80’s on a lark. I could have gone 289 K engine (had the block and all the internals for it) or 302 ( no shortage of them in junk yards at the time) but tried something different though not new.
Taking a cue from Shelby I used small chamber 289 heads, ported and flow matched to a singleplane high rise, and a 450CFM four barrel. I used variable duration lifters, dual pattern camshaft, electronic ignition, a windage tray, high performance valve train parts, and oversized pulleys. It nearly doubled the horsepower and pulled hard all the way to 7000RPM.
The slightly smaller engine breathed deep with the larger ports and valves of the 289, the only loss was low end torque. This combination was good enough for low 14s in the Fairlane I was running at the time, although I give credit to the C4, 3.25 gearing, and high stall converter in the trans for most of that.
Ah the good old days.
I had 2 of these, a 97 cobra convert, and a 2004 gt auto. I drove the gt for a year every day and it was really reliable, and much more solid than the 97. That Cobra version was incredible, DOHC and the 5 speed was a great combo, pure pleasure. The 04 GT had all the issues ironed out, and it was a quick smooth runner that was screwed together well. The GT auto was easier to drive in Long Island rush hour. I sold the Cobra when I moved into an apartment, and the GT was sold after I got a Ram SRT10, that was just a monster!
This generation still had plenty of character and “felt” like a Mustang when driving, the 2005 and up look more like a Mustang, but have lost a little of the Mustang driving feel.
I owned three Fox bodied cars of my own, a 1980 Mercury Capri Turbo, a 1985 Mercury Capri RS 5.0, and a 1986 Mercury Capri Sport Coupe 5.0. (See a pattern here?) Between the 1980 and the 1985, both of which were large POS’s, build quality did not improve. In addition to others in my circle of friends and family who had Ford products from that era, Quality was not Job One. The 1986 was better in the three years I had it, nothing major (or minor) broke on it. I was impressed.
All that said, I’d still love to have a Fox body again. I was something of a fan of the car featured, but like others here, I thought it was a bit overstyled. I did like the reprise of the three spoked TRX style wheels on these cars, and I think time has been kind to this re-style. FWIW, I like the contemporary F-bodies better.
The guy who lives directly behind me has a convertible 1996 model, which is a nice driver, for sure. I really liked the 1999 refresh of this car, but the 2005 version is kind of large for a Mustang. I hope someday it becomes a smaller car, like the original.
I meant to add: I’d be perfectly happy with a car like the one featured. It’s fast enough to keep me entertained, and beat up enough for me to use it as a CAR and not a fragile showpiece. Kind of like my 1995 Sunfire GT is now…
Also had that ’85 Capri 5.0.
Worst made car Ive owned, and slow
That car comes in at third place to being my “worst car ever”. I had a 1983 Trans Am that, while admittedly I was rough on the car (I was 20 at the time), all kinds of stuff broke. But it was a toss up between what I broke and what was just junk on the car. The 85 5.0L was fine for the first year, in fact it was my wife’s daily driver. But stuff broke on that car that never broke on others, including my POS T/A and Turbo Capri. And she isn’t that hard on equipment.
If I hadn’t owned a Mercury Topaz that would blow seals out of brake calipers and shatter tie rod ends on contact with curbs, or my Grand Marquis that was another POS unworthy of so many electrons, the 85 Capri would be first.
To it’s credit, it was fast for the times. I had no problem running with the Z28’s and Monte Carlo SS’s of the day. But, I would much rather have the 1986 version back again. It was by far the better runner.
The roof is not simply patina. 1995 paint was an error for all models as the switch from solvent based to water based and clearcoat paint replaced baked enamel.
They also had the sprayers at the wrong height, allegedly. Most Fords lost the paint on the roofs, I have dealt with this on three cars. I don’t buy Fords any more.
My 95 Explorer’s roof is just now losing the clear coat, after 19 years of sitting outside exposed to the elements. Otherwise when its clean and waxed, it still shines up like a new car, save for all the rock chips in the front from 326,000 miles of traveling.
What kept it up for so long was just a simple wax job every year, just once a year kept it looking like new for so so long.
What failed first on the Explorer’s paint job was the black paint on the B-pillars and the D-pillars.
I see lots of newer cars here in N. Texas that have failed paint, and darker colored Hondas. It’s not a Ford thing, it’s a care and feeding thing of any car and brand.
The center stack of the SN95 Mustang, with the square top (around the vents) and round bottom (around the shifter), looks like a men’s room urinal.
THIS is one that I let get away… I wanted working A/C so instead of fixing it on my 89 GT CONVERT, I traded it for a 10 year newer car with a/c… pffffffttt and 3+ years later I still and probably always regret not keeping it somehow. I can’t even tell you what we let it get away for.
I’ll add my voice to the quiet chorus that prefers the ’87-93 cars.
My best buddy had a ’90 LX 5.0 notchback 5-speed, and every Friday night we’d cruise Memorial Drive in Tulsa. EVERY Friday. Although it was his car, he didn’t like to drive as much as me and I always ended up driving. Also drove it on a several hundred mile trip down to the Winding Stair mountains in SE Oklahoma, where I made my one and only mistake with the car while driving. Tried to pass someone going uphil on a damp road, got a little greedy with the downshifting, and the ass end got REALLY light on me. Whoops. No crash, just a little squirrelly.
Still think fondly of that car. About the only thing that wasn’t too great was the heavy-ass clutch.
Oh yeah, the rear ends of these cars could have a mind of their own. I “warmed up” my 1986 5.0L, but kept the stock wheels and tires. Once I had enough HP up front, it didn’t take much to burn the Gatorbacks down to nothing. Think about it. Heavy iron block up front, not much out back. The only thing the extra shock absorbers did was to keep the tires closer the ground, but it wouldn’t guarantee traction…
On my (automatic) car, the 1-2 shift was the worst, because it would still smoke the tires into second and that’s usually when you’re hoping for traction. I swung that tail wide a number of times trying to manage that transition. It was a tail happy little beast.
Of course, then there were the embarassing moments. I literally got stuck at a red light once. It was on a uphill grade, it had just started raining and the Gatorbacks were on their way out. No matter what I did, I just sat and spun. I had to reverse to the side of the road to find some traction, then I was OK.
Another time, my wife took my 5.0L to her job, while there an early November (wet heavy) snow had happened. She could not get the car to move from the spot, those big Gatorbacks just slid in the wet snow. She called me up from the house (we only lived a mile away) and told me to come bring her car and where to put my Oxblood Red toy. That was not a fun evening…
There is a guy out here in the middle of Nowhere, Japan who carts his very small kids around in a 4.6L GT from this generation before the millennial refresh. I’ve seen (well okay, HEARD) countless V-12 powered Italian cars since moving here (Nowhere, Japan is also a tourist destination), and the sound that gets my blood flowing? That GT’s V-8 rumble…
I’ve always preferred the Mustang to the Camaro/Firebird, even though that usually meant lower performance than the F-bodies, and if given a chance, I’d love any of the V-8 powered Mustangs from pretty much any year outside of the 1970s.
I have a 1996 GT is my daily driver. Down here in Alabama, the climate is friendlier to older cars I guess – having grown up further north, in the DC area, I’m always amazed when I’m underneath it and find what just looks like a dusty, few years old car under there instead of a rusty, grimy, scaly 15 year old car.
I like the horizontal tailights of the 94-95 models – they make the car look a little lower and longer, and a little meaner. The rear end can get a bit stubby with the wing on the decklid that most came with. Although, I like the later, upright taillights too – they remind me of big red rubies when I’m washing the car – nice and bright looking and you can add sequential turn signals to them for a little vintage flair.
One feature of the 94-98 body I really like is the coke bottle sculpting of the sides.
The New Edge reskinning in ’99 was a remarkable job. The car was given a whole new character while remaining essentially identical. More successful than the 2010 update of the S197 and a more dramatic change than the areo update of the Fox.
These were pretty good cars – they weren’t great at anyone thing, except perhaps projecting the Mustang image (which is probably the most important thing anyway) but they drove pretty well, were fast enough to get into trouble with, handled alright and were reliable, durable and usable enough that you don’t sacrifice too much to use one as your everyday car – probably why they bested the F-bodies in sales and why there’s tons of SN95s still plying the roads while 4th gen F-bodies have already all but disappeared, as well as all their other contemporary sporty coupe competitors.
I remember seeing these for the first time shortly after they came out. I was working a temp job for Big 5 Sporting Goods at their Shoreline WA location when they moved from the old store to a new one on the premises.
The old Aurora Village shopping center, first built in 1962 or so was in the midst of being torn down in 1994 and one of the corporate fellas who’d flown in to help set up the new store had rented a white Mustang convertible and I recall it looking pretty neat at the time and noted how retro it seemed with the curved dash tops and the concave fronts of it as well.
As far as this body style goes, I think Ford needed to do a bit more with the general design, it looks a bit conservative for a Mustang and the design cues were just the merest hits of the car’s original looks and I think it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as it could’ve. Not a fan of the later chiseled versions but DO like the current 2005+ models but not as big a fan of the tapered rear end treatment of the 2010-2011 models as much as the more squared variants, which more closely resemble the original cars, albeit the original 64-66 models.
As for the bodies I’ve always liked best were the 67-68 bodies, the ’71 for it’s the best rendition of the bloated ‘stangs and do like the early Fox stangs, especially the hatchback versions best and the 2005 on myself.
A Foxy stang from the 80s was how I discovered the platform… it is amazing how distinctive the feel of a Fox chassis car is. Btw, as far as the 5.0 goes, Cobra heads FTW! 😀
I agree that the roof looks tacked on. I always thought that was a cheap move.
Out of all the Fox Mustangs, I prefer the Mercury Capri, as far as design goes. Looks a little Euro with those clean cut fender bulges, and I like the way the squarish front fascia rakes back horizontally at the headlights like my old 86 Thunderbird.
Never liked this version. Too many cut-lines and a very awkward roofline.
While hard core drag racers love the 87-93, the general public went nuts for my 94. I got one of the first V6 models in December 1993. I got so much attention, perhaps too much. Had the galloping horse on front stolen and wheel covers. But, the V6 got better highway miles than my friend’s ’92 2.3L hatch.
Our son bought a very nice greenish 1997 Mustang in 2000. It was a pretty fast car, even if it was a V6 auto. I was surprised at how light the doors were – as if they were hollow. I hope they had side beam impact protection inside, as I was concerned about that.
Unfortunately, his V6 apparently had a recall for a coolant leak issue that he never found out about. He traded the car 4 years later, concerned about the leak that had become manifest, and bought a very nice 2000 Eclipse GT he drove until last September.
Can’t believe that thing is already 20 years old. I had the Motor Trend magazine in which they explained “all” about that car when launched.
I loved this version of the Mustang. I’m glad Ford didn’t go the front-wheel drive route. Front-wheel drive is fine for some cars, like the Mini Cooper, or the old-school Honda Civic and today’s Honda Fit, but not a sports car, like the Ford Mustang. No way!
I’m thankful for CC and Mustang week, one enjoyable read after another about one of my all time favorite models.
I love the sharp edge styling of the refresh. Not to mention what the soul successor to SVO was doing with the Cobra: Independent rear suspension, 4 valve cylinder heads and later, a belt driven supercharger. For all the hype of the later Shelby GT’s and 500’s, they never got around to making the rear end independently sprung. John Colleti and SVT did, with this model Cobra.
John Coletti and before him, Michael Kranefuss were true car guys who contributed mightily to elevating the later Mustangs from just a big motor car to a car that had potential in the twisties. John’s crowning achievement was his last project: the Ford GT.
I have owned two Mustangs of this era, in addition to earlier Fox bodies and the 2011 that I have now. One was a 1995 V6/5 speed that we bought to replace our beloved ’88 GT convertible. The ’88 was to the point where it needed some expensive repairs and, in a moment of weakness, we traded it in on the ’95. We regretted this move within a couple of weeks; the ’95 was okay to drive with the manual transmisison but we missed having a convertible (and the V8). After a couple of years we found a used 1996 GT convertible at a local Ford store and traded in the ’95. The ’96 had been a “program car”, dealer speak for “former rental car”; this one had definitely been rode hard and put away wet. The transmission had to be replaced (under warranty) within the first year of our ownership and we decided that we would not keep this one after the warranty expired. If I remember correctly this Mustang got traded in for an Explorer, which became my wife’s daily driver.
I remember reading when this generation came out that Ford stylists had given names to the various prototypes, ranging from the smoothest, Bruce Jenner (upper in your photo) to Rambo (lower). The in between Arnold Schwarzennegger won the day. Luckily the car has aged better than all three namesakes.
I had an ’84 Mustang GT and after that an ’89 Probe GT Turbo. The Probe was a better car by just about every measure, but it wasn’t as much fun to drive. I’d still take it every time over the Mustang though.
I had an 83 and 84 Mustang convertible. Also had several Probe GTs… 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, and 96 (I had the fortune of getting new “sales cars” every year). The 2nd generation Probe (93-96) were fantastic and much better than any Fox Mustang, except perhaps a Cobra 4.6L DOHC/IRS convertible.
My sister had one of this era Mustangs, but it was a convertible. Even with the V6 (rather than the 5.0 or later V8) paired to an automatic, it had some zip and she never had any major problems with it. It was a fun car to drive, the times I got it in the winter when I was in the area and she didn’t like to drive it but would rather have my 4×4. I also drove it a few times in the summer with the top down, and that’s where it excelled. About this same time we had a Mitsubishi Eclipse turbo floating around in the family. It seemed a lot faster, and was certainly more fun if you like a stick but it just didn’t have the same American cultural cachet of a Pony car.
Being a cruiser type of car enthusiast rather than a need for speed type, it fit the bill.
So far the Mustang 4th gen was the last model that was officially imported here. Hessing De Bilt was the US Ford-Mercury-Lincoln importer. A few other cars the company imported in the nineties: the Ford Explorer and Thunderbird, the Mercury Grand Marquis and the Lincoln Continental. I remember the reviews and tests in the magazines and books from that era. These cars were relatively low-priced back then given their size, luxury and engines.
The Mustangs of the 5th gen are all grey imports, like the Shelby GT500 below (Photo: Pedal to the Metal Joure). Yet I see them more than their predecessors in the eighties and nineties.
I’ve read that the 2015 Mustang will make an official comeback, probably with a 4 cylinder turbo engine.
A friend bought one of these – the convertible – when it came out. I was quite jealous.
While I could find versions of the Mustang II and the Fox that I liked, this was the car that said to me “Mustang is Back!” And, I’ve felt that way ever since. And, I like what I see for 2015, so I’m a happy guy. Maybe someday I’ll own one.
Ugh, The Probe. That name always conjured up in my mind a medical tool for proctologists. A space age looking annoyance in Ford’s line-up. Good riddance.
The first gen Mustang got something right that more recent generations have not: it was a charismatic, unthreatening looking car that could look totally badass with very few factory mods. This gave it appeal to almost everyone, from the demure secretary to the James Dean wannabe. Even the Mustang II and the early Fox based ‘stangs got this more or less right. But from ’94 on, the styling has overemphasized the bad boy vibe, sacrificing general appeal in order to reach the mulletted set. Sales have reflected this—they’re now about one-ninth what they were in 1966. Is a broad-audience approach to car design no longer possible?
I believe it stems more from a decline in the overall market for coupes than anything else. Between an aging population and child-restraint laws that require children to either be in child seats or boosters, there is simply less willingness to put up with the limitations of a coupe.
I have two pre-school children. Getting them buckled into their child seats is hard enough in a four-door sedan.
I’d go with that. Our ’89 T-Bird succumbed to parent hood thanks to child safety seats. I think my folks let us go free range in the backseat of their ’62 two-door Falcon Futura.
Insurance companies charge more for 2 doors, due to past history of acciedents, unfortunately. So, some buyers rule them out once they check rates.
Anyway, I had a 1994 Mustang in its first year, and got lots of attention, as if it as 1964 again. “Wow, is that a new Stang!?” It had first year bugs, but was fun, for awhile.
I’ve not seen this proposal before. I wonder if it was an idea for a RWD Mustang or a Probe. A search on the internet for it said it was part of the FWD Mustang study but what does that guy know he called it a horror lol.
Looks like it could be RWD. Not very “Mustang” but a pretty car with a nice low belt line and small headlamps. Fresh enough to be a 2014 which you can’t say about the other proposals. Could have come from Audi.
My problem with the ’94, as nice as it was, was that I was just sick of the Fox look by that time.
I believe that was the “Bruce Jenner” styling proposal, I presume it’s Fox based. Pretty neat, I never saw it past the renderings.
Looks like a Dodge Stealth!
And now Bruce Jenner’s a woman! Maybe this version was meant to appeal to the many women who bought the smaller engine variants? Anyway, I always liked this generation of Mustang and I remember the proposals were named Bruce Jenner, Rambo and Arnold Schwarzenegger. They went with Arnold which they said was a blend between the two. (Motor Trend, January 1994)
I was always a Fox body fanatic, I have written before how not buying a 93 LX 5.0 was my biggest automotive regret back then. The father of a good friend had purchased a 94 GT convertible with automatic brand new in 94, and let us take it for a test drive. I was completely underwelmed. It felt like a dog compared to the 93 I had test driven a year prior. I am sure the auto and the convertible weight was partially to blame, but still not very impressive. But I do see the appeal of this body style, in the right color with the right wheels it looks very sharp. And nowadays making it faster is pretty simple.
There recently was a purple one parked at a house I drive by very often, hardtop GT, from the OEM wheels I would guess it was a 96 or 97. Something about that color and the stance (it was stock, sitting a bit high but it looked better that way IMO) just struck me. I have kept an eye on it, hoping I’d see a For Sale sign on it someday. But the other day I noticed it was gone, no sign ever appeared. I hope he just put it in the garage or something. I never see purple ones for sale.
The thing I never cared for on this era Mustang was the horrifcally cheap and tacky interior plastics used.
Good looking cars, but the interior always left me cold.
Granted the 3rd and 4th gen F-bodies weren’t much better.
Still have the laser red GT bought new back in March 1994. All original except for the battery and tires. Just turned 39,000 miles.
I just can NOT warm up to these at all. In general, all ’90s jellybean shapes look like bland crap to my eye. That said, after the ’98 refresh these definitely looked better. Or at least less bad. The addition of some blackout trim, and some hard edges made it look less flabby and more masculine. I think the biggest eyesore on the ’94-’97 models was the godforsaken wheels. Every last choice was total garbage. They all were soft shapes, most all were painted silver so every last one looked like a set of wheelcovers from walmart. The Fox body’s tri spokes were at least machined finish with a high tech look. The turbine wheels used from ’87-90 ish were the absolute BEST looking wheels used on a mustang from ’79 up til the Bullits and the updated Magnums on the Mach 1’s that were out ’02-’04 ish. Yes, Im a total wheel snob/whore. The wrong wheels can make a good looking car look like total shit, yet the right wheels can make a mediocre or even ugly looking car suddenly look appealing….or at least MORE appealing.
I thought the all the SVT wheels looked pretty good, the 96/7 ones looked better than the 94/5 ones though, instead of silver accents they were dark grey.
One of my neighbors has a 1996 mystic chrome one (1 of 2000 apparently) It’s his show car and I only see him driving it once in a while, he and his wife both have V8 manual GM cars for daily drivers so it’s all relative I suppose.
I’ve driven a few of these and I want one – preferably with the V8 and a stick. They’re fun to drive and they make me smile. What more do you want?
In 2001 my friend bought a light teal ’95 GT convertible (with an automatic) at a dealership in West Virginia. It had been traded on a new Ford by an older woman, and had 23,000 miles on it. Knowing my friend tired of his cars quickly, I waited. I live in Florida, and have now owned that car for twelve years and have added another 45,000 miles. The only additions have been a set of Cobra rims and a recent top .
I like this car and will have it until I die. Then I’ll take it with me.
I remember when the Ford Probe first hit showrooms. I read a magazine article about it. It started with someone asking what it was. The dealer worker replied that it was “the New Mustang”. I remember being pissed. I was like “I hope they didn’t replace the Mustang with this ugly thing.” I thought the Probe was the ugliest thing Ford produced since the Pinto. As the article continued, the same guy says “that’s not a Mustang!”, like I didn’t know it wasn’t the new Mustang?
A friend of mine, who passed away a couple of years ago, was one of those people who wrote letters about all kinds of stuff, and one of the things that set him off was the mention of a FWD Mustang. He shot off a bunch of letters to Ford HQ, and I would bet those letters are in the “Nuts and Cranks” section of the security office even today. I saw some of those letters and I’m surprised that none of them had foam stains on them, he would totally go off the deep end on all kinds of minor issues. The fire and police departments of the Toledo area knew him on sight, and as his health deteriorated, all the paramedics in the area knew him well. He ranted until the end, writing a letter to the mayor of the town he lived in days before he died about some very minor issue. Almost all his letters were about minor issues. He amused the crap out of me when he would start ranting about something that affected his life in absolutely no way.
I love my sn95 heavily modified .most work done on my garage…I l love muscle car & morpar enthusiast..
Hey Alex, that’s a good looking Mustang. The huge wheel wells on these cars cry out for some twenty inch wheels with wide tires to fill them up. Or, you have to lower them a bit and go with 18’s or something. These cars looked pretty sad with the little 15” wheels that came on the V6 models. When new, I thought that these were a let down, where was the Mustang look? The final Foxes didn’t look anything like the first gen cars but had developed a “tough” look of their own. Back when these came out I was driving my Northstar Cadillac STS and these didn’t even warrant a look.Twenty years later when I was looking for a hobby car I began to appreciate the styling. They are actually very true to their Mustang roots. Short deck, longish hood, side scoops and a chrome horse up front. The high tail, wedge shape still looks contemporary. I find my ’96 4.6 model to be quite reliable and easy to work on and satisfying to drive, stock. Of course like all Mustangs the sky’s the limit when it comes to modifications.
I still remember the excitement I felt when I first saw the new-for-’94 Mustang while I was in college. I couldn’t collect enough printed materials about the reborn Mustang, from magazines, to dealership brochures, to news articles, etc.
I sat in a new one at the old location of Galloway Ford in Ft. Myers, Florida that was parked under the canopy right outside the plate glass doors. I remember thinking about how I couldn’t wait to get a used one when one such car was within my price range.
The sad thing was that when I did find a used ’94 around the spring of ’98, it was pretty raggedy – and still out of my price range. I got a ’94 Probe (much more affordable) instead, and I did like that car.
The only visual elements of the ’94 Mustang I didn’t love were:
– The roofline of the enclosed-roof models looked undecisively styled half-way between a notchback and a fastback (which was corrected for ’05); and
– The seams of the C-pillars and roof looked really sloppy. Ford should have engineered a better way to integrate the way the C-pillar met with both the rear quarter panel and roof.
Yeah the seams were an obvious cost saving measure, presumably to save on quarter panel stampings for the convertible. Ford was getting really heavy handed with cost cutting measures in the 90s and this was a clear reflection of it. Funny enough the 99-04s have different panels(two actually, with Bullitt and Mach 1 being uniquely shaped), but they interchange directly from 1994-2004. The consolidation of notchback and hatchback styles were evident in the shape, I find it attractive personally and the visibility is way better than traditional fastbacks, but it’s window shape isn’t particularly special and can look a bit disconnected from the body at certain angles, which those seams make literal.
The 05 roofline isn’t even that different in profile, it’s just as much of a semi-fastback with its flat decklid, but it’s not marred by odd seams and the window shapes directly echo the classic 65-68 design
A friend of mine had one of the last of this era Mustang GT’s and it was by far the best Ford vehicle he’s owned in the almost 35 years I’ve known him. His only non Ford vehicle was a C4 Corvette, and it was totally trouble free the 2 years he had it. A friend needed to get out of it, and he took over the loan. He normally buys only Fords, even though Ford has screwed him over, again and again denying warranty claims for known issues. The Mustang was pretty decent, had some minor issues, but it creaked and groaned worse than my “86 Iroc-Z Camaro did, and that car made me almost insane with all it’s noises it made. He spent a lot of time trying to quiet it down and never could really do it, and eventually he sold it and bought the first and worst of his now 3 Explorers. Last year, he bought a Bullitt Mustang and so far, it’s managed to, at east so far, gone almost a year without any issues. If it makes it to the end of the warranty without serious issues, it will be the best, by far, Ford product he has ever owned. Why does he keep buying Fords? It’s a mystery. His wife wants to never drive a Ford again, but he goes bonkers when she even mentions looking at another make. She want’s a Scat Pack Charger, but that won’t happen.
Just yesterday I saw deep green Bullit Mustang 2008? It aged well imho. I remember when the 2005 generation came I was surprised at low grunt of the 4.6 V8 at low RPM, I’m more used to instant torque of older V8 from idle.
Last generation is very popular in Europe, priced reasonably even by official Ford dealers eliminate needs for the grey import. Most of them are V8, no less.
My ex-wife got a ’93 teal green GT convertible. She chose it after driving a BMW 3 series convertible. The GT was tighter, quieter and quicker. And cheaper! It was a great car, she kept it for longer than the marriage.
I am one of those guys who wrote to Ford complaining about the proposed FWD Mustang. My brother did also. I couldn’t imagine them doing that to this car. I am glad they relented. Funny thing is, when I bought my ’03 Mustang, people at work asked me if it was FWD ! What irony. My job entailed a lot of driving around the state on a daily basis, so when I told them it was RWD they asked me how I was going to get around in the winter. I told them I would do as I always did, put some weight in the trunk and go about my business. Of course that car wasn’t very good in snow, but I only got slightly stuck once. It was a great car and I put 228 K miles on it in 5 years before selling it and buying my current 2009 coupe.
I like these, and would love to have had one. But lose the spoiler and it looks so much cleaner
The Probe was actually far superior to the Mustang. I test drove a 1990 Probe GT and it was like a fine swiss watch compared to the very poorly assembled, poorly engineered, junky-clunky 1990 Mustang GT I test drove. The Probe being a Mazda design meant it was designed with precision. I ended up purchasing a 1990 Mazda 626 GT turbo in mica red. It was simply a glorious car. It was light as a kite in the twisties and had a marvelous 5 speed. My Mazda had better build quality than the Probes I was looking at. The difference between American and Japanese work ethics in terms of build quality. If Ford really wanted to maintain the rear drive format with the ’94 Mustang they should’ve collaborated with Mazda to design a world class level sport coupe instead of the barely mediocre result they came up with.
I actually own a 1995 convertiable mustang gt and I love it. It’s not my daily driver I mainly drive it for car shows and club events