If you could see tomorrow the way it looked to Ford in model year 1981, you’d say: wow, the bottom was rocky but maybe good things happen if we follow these bubbles up. from all reports, the 1981 “world car” was a disaster: overweight, underpowered and handling quirks that made the first Corvair seem predictable. The 1982 Escort grew worlds better (a 2/10 is infinity better than a 0/10). The 1982 Mustang even more so.
The first Fox Mustang was OK. The turbos blew up if you let off at high rpm, but TRX and Cobra graphics and a 140 hp 302 were pretty cool, if not mind-numbingly fast.
Then 1980 happened. Per wiki:
Following the second oil crisis in 1979, the 302 cu in (4.9 L) was dropped in favor of a new 255 cu in (4.2 L) V8 due to its better fuel economy. It was the only V8 offered in 1980 and 1981. Basically a de-bored 302, the 4.2 L V8 had restrictive heads and managed to produce 120 hp (89 kW), the lowest power ever for a Mustang V8. Compounding the lack of power, the 4.2 L was mated only with the three-speed automatic transmission. This meant the 2.3 L Turbo 4 was the sole “performance” engine. However, the Turbo 4 was plagued with reliability issues from its release. Inadequate lubrication led to premature turbo failure and even some engines catching fire.
Motor Trend at the time mocked the 1980 Mustang “Cobra” V8 that would lose a 0-60 race to a 1980 Honda Civic. Nadir is not too strong of a word.
Then, someone in Dearborn replaced their regular
coffee saltpeter with Folger’s Viagra.
1982 Ford Mustang GT 302 HO First Drive – Motor Trend.
You can feel it in the air and see in the quickened pace of everyday business. Suddenly, the excitement, the energy, the pride are palpable. Even in the midst of severe economic problems, and after an absence of more than a decade, Ford Motor Company has decided to put itself back into racing and back into the high-performance production car business. It’s part of Ford’s new marketing strategy. Public reaction to this return to big-league racing has been overwhelmingly positive; a whirlwind of mail has told the company to start building something that’s quick, fast, and fun to drive, like the Miller Zakspeed Mustang. Ford has responded with a high-performance 5-liter (302 cid) HO engine package, applicable to all 1982 Mustang and Capri models, but best blended with the new Mustang GT or Capri RS.
The horsepower wars were officially back on. Read more: http://bit.ly/1boOO7c