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.
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.
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.
We’re starting a new series, mostly at Drive-By Shootings, called “Go Fence Yourself.” We’ve been exploring the barren Martian wasteland of Phoenix, lately. What better time than high summer, right? In beautiful South Phoenix and Maryvale, EVERYTHING has a fence. Industrial park parking lots top their chain link fences with razor wire. That’s how we say GTFO “welcome!”
What also dots the bombed out apocalypse of post-industrial, forgotten Phoenix is junkyards. Some are official businesses, some are hoards, some are parts bins for the unlicensed dealers selling frankenstein-like, cobbled together deathtraps on Craigslist. We even started a new blog dedicated to the fences themselves (because focusing is hard and the cars come out all blurry).
Inside the fences, there are stories told in sheet metal. Sometimes, too, there are prizes. (Sometimes there are just booby prizes.) Here are a few examples of the former:
A Toyota Corona 1900
A Hudson Hornet (maybe)? There’s a whole slew of Porky’s jokes, especially considering the sketchy desolate neighborhood of warehouses and strip joints where we found it.
Sometimes, the prizes still run. (Or fly.)
We invite you to drop by the other joints for more.