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Everything About the Foxbody Mustang (1979-1993) Submodels

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The Foxbody Mustang is a third-generation vehicle worth taking for a drive if you are a fan of muscle cars. These Ford vehicles have proven to be stylish and strong, with their modern yet nostalgic frame notable of classic Mustang cars of the 1960s. Adding to the classic styling is your own personal touch. Make your Fox a one of a kind with styling mods!

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The year 1979 marked the entry of the Foxbody Ford Mustang to the market. Times were changing. The high-horsepower muscle car era had ended. America was working its way through an economic depression, and new emission regulations were in place. It was time for a brand-new Mustang.

Basic Foxbody Mustang Specs

Built on Ford’s Fox platform, the Foxbody Mustang served the market from 1979 to 1993 before being replaced by its successor, the SN-95, in 1994. Through its years, the Fox expanded through various submodels, engine packages, and trims only to become one of the most popular Mustangs ever built. Below we get into different iterations and details of the Foxbody that you need to know.

2.3L “Lima” Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Engine Specs & Info

  • 175 HP & 210 TQ
  • Offered until 1980, before reliability issues forced its discontinuation
  • Returned to the Mustang lineup as the engine powering the SVO model in 1984

4.2L V8 Engine Specs & Info

  • 118 HP & 193 TQ (1980)
  • Introduced in 1980 model year as an economical choice for Foxbody owners 
  • Offered in 1980 and 1981
  • Only available with a three-speed automatic transmission
  • Least powerful V8 Mustang engine produced

5.0L V8 Foxbody Engine Specs & Info

  • 225 HP & 300 TQ (1987)
  • 4.94L engine, but marketed as the “5.0”
  • Most sought after powerplant of the Foxbody era
  • Various versions of the 5.0 were available in model years 1979 and 1982 to 1993

Additional Foxbody Mustang Engine Options

While the iconic engine of the Foxbody era is the 5.0L V8—the turbocharged Lima following a close second—there were several other engines used to power Mustang.

2.3L Inline 4-cylinder

  • Model years: 1979-1982
  • 110 HP

2.8L V6

  • Model years: 1979
  • 191 HP

3.3L Inline 6-cylinder

  • Model years: 1979-1982
  • 89 HP

3.8L Essex V6

  • Model years: 1983-1986
  • 140 HP

1979-1981 Foxbody Cobra

The Cobra first appeared in the Foxbody family in 1979 and would continue on for the following two model years. The upper-spec Cobra models got a list of exterior styling updates, like black trim, Cobra graphics, and chrome door handles and locks. The 1980 model received a new front bumper, cowl-type hood scoop as well as a rear spoiler and additional black trim.

  • Offered with either the 5.0L V8 engine or 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant in 1979
  • In 1980 and 1981, the 5.0 was shelved and the Cobra was offered with a 4.2L V8 powerplant or 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder

Foxbody Mustang GT – The Boss is Back!

The reappearance of the Mustang GT occurred in 1982 when Ford put a halt to the Cobra. With a slogan of “The Boss is Back,” the GT received several upgrades to separate itself from the standard-model Mustang.

The 5.0L V8 got new valves, a more aggressive camshaft, a twin-barrel carburetor, revisions to its firing order, as well as an updated intake and exhaust system. The upper-spec GT also received the front air dam and rear spoiler from the previous year’s Cobra.

The GT lived on through the end of the Foxbody line, seeing important horsepower upgrades and minor chassis updates like wider tires, revised anti-roll bars and more.

1984-1986 Mustang SVO

Built by Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations Department, the Mustang SVO was derived from a performance Foxbody created to compete in the 24-hour Longest Day of Nelson race. The SVO was powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and had restyled body panels, 5-lug axles and hubs, and a unique SVO interior among other bits.

  • Turbocharged 2.3L I-4 engine
  • 175 HP & 210 TQ
  • Four-wheel disc brakes
  • Koni adjustable shocks & struts

1983-1993 Ford SSP Mustang

In 1982, the California Highway Patrol approached the Ford Motor Company in regards to building a highly-capable, lightweight police car. The result? The Special Service Package (SSP) Foxbody Mustang based on the Fox 5.0.

The SSP models came packed with options out of reach of the general public, making it more rugged and able to handle the needs of law enforcement officers. Depending on the agency purchasing them, special features like roll cages and power windows could be added to help facilitate and protect the officers inside.

  • 5.0L V8 engine
  • Added engine oil cooler
  • Automatic transmission fluid cooler 
  • Silicone radiator hoses
  • Reinforced floor pans

1993 Foxbody Cobra & Cobra R

Before discontinuing the Foxbody Mustang at the end of 1993, Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) produced two legendary, high-performance Mustangs—the Cobra and Cobra R.

The 1993 Cobra and Cobra R both featured a 5.0 V8 suped up with GT-40 engine upgrades, which laid down a 235 horsepower and 280 ft-lbs of torque. On the exterior, each model received updated front and rear bumpers, side skirts, a unique rear spoiler, Cobra emblems, and a Cobra grill insert.

1993 Cobra Specs

  • 5.0L V8 powerplant with GT-40 high-performance parts
  • 235 HP & 280 TQ
  • Updated exterior styling

The Cobra R was one notch up. The top-spec model featured larger, more-powerful braking components, an engine oil cooler, power steering cooler, and Koni shocks and struts. Being built for racetrack use, the Cobra R lacked air conditioning, a stereo system, and a rear seat. Less weight, faster times.

1993 Cobra R Specs

  • High-performance brakes
  • Koni shocks and struts
  • Reduced weight through the elimination of A/C, stereo, and rear passenger seat

Common Modifications for the Foxbody Mustang

Subframe Connectors: Hands down, one of the most important upgrades for the Foxbody Mustang is the addition of subframe connectors. The reason? The Foxbody’s unibody chassis design is weak and risks being twisted or distorted by a throttle-happy driver. Trust us, the 5.0L V8 may only produce 220 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque, but it has enough grunt to do damage to the Foxbody’s subframes and floor pans.

In simple terms subframe connectors will join the front and rear subframe together, while attaching to the floor pans to add structural strength to the Foxbody. More strength means more capability for added horsepower. That said, subframe connectors are a must.

5-lug Wheel and Disc Brake Conversions: Converting your Foxbody to a 5-lug wheel setup will pay off in more ways than one. First, by completing the swap to 5-lugs, you’ll have access to a larger selection of wheels. Since the Mustangs of today come equipped with 5-lug wheel patterns, aftermarket companies have followed and are offering their choices with five lugs instead of four.

Have you been wanting that extra stopping power? A 5-lug conversion is the place to start. Converting your Foxbody to accommodate the extra lug also opens the door to big brake kits up front as well as being able to swap out the rear drum brakes for more-powerful disc units.

Fitment includes: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, GT, V6, Cobra, SVO, LX