The 1982 Ford Mustang is a muscle car with a message, and also a spirited, highly choreographed dance number performed by what appears to be every resident of the city block.
If you weren’t around for the 1980s, you might have an easy time believing Ford Motor Company’s assurance that every day was a sing-along, and that every drive in your cherry red T-top Mustang GT would result in a group of neighbors dancing around and on the vehicle, while pointedly fondling the spoiler. Rest assured this didn’t happen as often as early ’80s media would like you to think.
Still, when America Top 40 DJ Casey Kasem explains, in his melodious tones, the future of Mustang. It’s got a “high output” 5.0-liter that says, “Stand back! The street belongs to GT!” This could possibly be a warning for any street dance mobs that they should be respectful to oncoming traffic, but most likely, it’s heralding the high-performance engine of the 1982 Ford Mustang GT.
Look out World! Here Comes the Ford Mustang! Here Come New Specs!
The 1982 Ford Mustang was part of the model’s third generation, if you can believe it. Spanning from 1978 to 1993, the Gen 3 Mustang was built on the Ford Fox platform, earning it the nickname “the Fox Body Mustang.”
Two body styles were offered: A notchback coupe and a three-door hatchback. Drivers had a few options to pop open the roof to get the extra cool factor, including a T-top or a flip-up partial open roof.
At the outset of the generation, drivers had their choice of the base Mustang or the amped-up Ghia trim. Then, Ford introduced the Cobra appearance package, which added a hood decal, fog lamps, and a non-functional cowl-type hood scoop. For the 1982 model year, Ford headed back to the drawing board to drop the Cobra and bring back the Mustang GT hatchback.
Though the GT was the top trim offering, the Ghia was replaced by the GLX as the luxury-feature trim, with reclining bucket seats and remote control mirrors. The base trim became known as the “L” trim. A GL mid-trim was offered, as well.
“The Boss Is Back”
The Cobra had been nice and all, but muscle car enthusiasts were looking for a pony car that had guts. So, when Ford brought back the GT with its surly engine, there was much rejoicing.
The standard engine for the 1982 Ford Mustang was a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. A 3.3-liter straight-six was also on the table, along with a 4.2-liter V8 engine. The turbo engine option was dropped for 1982 due to mechanical issues in 1981, but it would return in 1983 to much acclaim.
However, the truly exciting option was part of the GT Package: A 5.0-liter V8 that offered 157 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. This “High Output” (HO) engine came equipped with a double-roller timing chain, twin-barrel carburetor, stiff valve springs, and a camshaft borrowed from the 1973 Torino. And, alas, it was paired with a single exhaust.
Ford included the four-speed single-rail overdrive transmission (SROD) as standard equipment, but a 5-speed manual transmission was also available.
Here’s a strange twist: the California Highway Patrol decided the 1982 Fox Body Mustang was a great choice for officers, and thus 400 Special Services Package models were made to their specs. These versions included automatic transmissions, so the officers could use their hands freely, along with a certified calibrated speedometer with two-piece VASCAR speedometer cable.
To quote the commercial, *whisper*, “Wow!”
Compared to today’s muscle cars, the 1982 Ford Mustang models probably seem a bit sedate. But as a product of their time, when people were enthusiastically Fame-dancing in the streets, they were pretty darn rad. Plus, a lot of SSPs and GTs were modded up and sent to the track, where you know their drivers had an absolutely blast ripping the Fox Body around the turns.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for the Mustang GT’s return, some experts feel there would be no Mustang today. And wouldn’t a world without Mustangs be just a little less joyous?
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This post was originally published on July 26, 2021.