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1985 Ford Mustang GT

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On: Thu, Oct 6, 2011 at 9:07AM | By: Peter C Sessler

1985 Ford Mustang GT

The 1985 Mustang GT was significant in the long life of Mustangs—especially the high performance models, which in this case happen to be the GT models. You have to consider what came before the 1985 Mustang GT.

Performance Mustangs since 1974, at best, only looked like performance models. Yes, there were the Cobra II models, and let’s not forget the King Cobra models, but they could not perform. Even the “hot” 4.2-liter V-8 models of 1980-1981 were rated at only 119hp (120hp for 1981). Now that is really pathetic for a car that twelve years earlier was pumping out 375hp with the Boss 429 model. Still, you have to start somewhere.

And so, by 1985, Ford was taking small steps to regain the performance image—in fact and in looks.

The 5.0L V-8 was where all the action was in 1985. The engine had gone from 175hp to 210hp. The aluminum intake manifold/four-barrel Holley carburetor was basically unchanged. It would, however, be the last year for that setup. For 1985, Ford added a choke pull-down diaphragm—otherwise, the intake system remained unchanged.

Ford decided to go with a stainless-steel exhaust header system too. Although the factory system had lots of built-in compromises, it was nevertheless a system that was worth up to 10hp over a cast-iron manifold system. For 1985, the exhaust headers fed a single catalytic converter and then the outlets form a dual exhaust system—true duals would not show up until 1986. Even so, the bulk of the 35 hp gain in 1985 can be attributed to the exhaust system.

To take advantage of the intake/exhaust system, Ford decided to introduce a hydraulic roller lifter camshaft. Roller lifters, besides allowing for more cam lift, are superior to flat tappets. In addition, Ford made some changes to the blocks to make it easier to change roller lifters in the front and rear of the block.

The 5.0L V-8 also came with a larger impeller which had curved instead of straight blades. This water pump increased flow capacity and improved coolant distribution.

In addition, the 1985 5.0L V-8 also benefited from the use of forged pistons. The 1985 pistons also had thicker ring lands which meant improved heat transfer to the cylinder walls.

In terms of exterior trim, the 1985 Mustang borrowed from the SVO (or vice-versa). GTs got new blackout trim as well as paint and tape treatment on the hood and decklid. The large GT letters on the hood let the car’s original paint color show through; and GT letters were part of the side molding in front of the rear tires. This side-molding was part of the urethane protection treatment. A rear spoiler was standard on the GT hatchback.

The end result was performance at last, once again. The Mustang proved to be strong enough to challenge the Camaro/Firebird duo; in fact, the Camaro/Firebird could not compete head to head with the Mustang, and was it was deleted from the option lists by 2002.

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