The 1980 Mustang

The 1980 Mustang based on the Ford Fox-4 platform (now commonly called a Fox body Mustang), was now into it's second year of development in the all new Ford Mustang and continuing its evolutionary development of styling and design sophistication.

Maybe it was pressure from CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards, the desire to keep the power to weight ratio high.

Or perhaps it was the belief that smaller turbocharged engines were the answer to the future of performance. Either way, major changes were developing in the new 1980 Fox Body Mustang's engine bay. 1980 mustang convertible

Whether it was pressure from CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards, or the belief that smaller turbocharged motors were the answer to the future of performance,strange things were happening in the engine bay.

Engines and Drivetrain Options

Engine Choices

Things were not like the old days of the 302 or 351 cubic inch powerhouse engines.

A New V8 Engine ?

The venerable 5.0 liter V8 (a good motor, saddled by emission controls and low fuel efficiency) was replaced with a new 4.9 liter V8 ( 255 cubic inches ) which produced an uninspiring 119 horsepower, compared with the 1979 Mustang's 5.0 liter V8 engine which in the 1979 Mustang, was capable of producing 140 hp.

The new V8 was introduced as a stop-gap measure to keep the 1980 Ford models with a v8 which could achieve better fuel economy. Unfortunately that's about all it did, leaving the 2.3 liter inline 4 cylinder engine to the high performance arena by itself.

A New six cylinder Engine The 2.8 liter V6 was not so much replaced, as shoe-horned into the 1980 Mustang engine compartment. The new engine, which appeared later in the model year was a 3.3 liter inline six cylinder which could be had with 91 - 94 horsepower, depending on whether you chose the automatic or the standard transmission. Rumors were, that it only was added to the Mustang line due to too few 2.8 liter V6 engines available for customer demand.

Although horsepower was down slightly, additional torque from the bigger engine made up most of the deficit in responsiveness.

Four Cylinder Options

1980 4 cylinder ford mustang engines
The standard 2.3 liter inline 4 cylinder remained and produced 88 to 90 horsepower depending on the transmission choice.
1980 2.3 liter mustang turbo engine

By default, the factory performance motor for the 1980 Mustang became the 2.3 liter turbocharged inline 4 cylinder which continued to produce 132 horsepower. This engine, while lively, was also known in the trade as a "hand grenade motor" due to inadequate oil flow to the turbocharger in some situations, causing premature failure.

At the same time, many V8 Mustang fans, were understandably put off, by what looked like the planned end of the V8 Mustang!

The M81 McLaren Mustang

Probably the most interesting event in the 1980 model year was The development of the M81 McLaren Mustang. Whether it is really a 1980 or 1981 may be up to argument. The fact, is however that the concept that started in the spring of 1980, led to the formation of a special vehicle operations ( SVO ) who was responsible for designing and producing the car, and set up specifically to create limited production performance vehicles to enhance Ford's performance image through motorsports.

The result was a wild looking car with wide IMSA flares at all sides,a factory roll bar,BBS alloy wheels and Recaro seats.

The engine was a modified version of the 2.3 liter turbocharged motor. Increased boost and standard hot rod technology,bumped the power up to 175 hp. Although some 250 of these cars were planned, its been said that only 10 were actually produced and with a price tag almost 5 times that of a standard Mustang, which was just over $5,000 at the time.

Exterior Changes

1980 ford mustang

Few exterior changes were made to the 1980 Mustang. Ford's history of evolutionary changes, called for small detail changes and this car was no different. The front grille was restyled slightly and the Ford logo moved to the top of the front facia.

1980 ford mustang body styles

A Convertible Mustang ?

Well not really.....many fox body Mustang enthusiasts might have thought that Ford had brought back the convertible, but looks were deceiving.
1980 carriage roof mustang
What appeared to be a new convertible roof was in fact a decor option called a Carriage Roof, which was available only on the 2 door hard top models

The 1980 Mustang Cobra borrowed heavily from the 79 pace car, with its distinctive grille,hood treatment, lower front air dam and rear lip spoiler on the rear deck lid.

Interior Changes

Minor changes in the 1980 interior were made, including the addition of high back bucket seats for the base models.
1980 foxbody mustang interiors

The Recaro bucket seat from the previous year's Pace Car package, were kept as an option.

Leave the 1980 Mustang and Go Back to Fox Body Mustang listings .

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