Over the near five decade history of the Ford Mustang, lots of different platforms have powered the iconic pony car. Probably the worst was the Mustang II, which shared the same platform underpinning the Pinto. The Pinto was a poster child for a crappy compact car although the Chevy Monza and AMC Gremlin offered a strong challenge.
Once Ford got their heads screwed back on correctly the Fox platform took over, powering the Mustang from 1979 through the 1993 model year. Yes, things certainly began to improve for Mustang once again, so let’s take a look at some interesting facts about the Fox body style.
* The Ford Fairmount and Mercury Zephyr were the first two models underpinned by the Fox platform, a rear wheel drive uni-body chassis. Both of these five-passenger cars were introduced for the 1978 model year and were available in two- and four-door configurations as well as a wagon.
* For 1979, the Ford Mustang and Mercury Capri were rolled out and they were twin models. In the Mustang’s earlier years, the Cougar was the Mercury version of the Mustang while the original Capri was a captive import from Germany. After the 1986 model year the Ford Motor Company dropped the Capri, allowing the Mustang to resume its position as the automaker’s loan pony car.
* Ford took full advantage of the fox body, by rolling out more upscale version models including the Ford Granada and later the LTD. Lincoln got the Continental while the Ford Thunderbird, Mercury Cougar, and eventually the Lincoln Mark VII were each underpinned by a modified version of that platform.
* The Ford Ranchero was the lone car-truck model built on the Fox platform, a poor selling alternative to the El Camino sold only in the 1981 and 1982 model years.
In all, the Fox platform spanned fifteen model years and involved eleven nameplates, but as you might guess the Ford Mustang was the best selling and longest lasting fox powered model in the group.
As for the Mustangs of that era, these models continued with the 2+2 seating configuration that have always defined pony cars. Available in two door coupe, three door hatchback, and convertible (introduced in 1983), the Mustang line featured a strange combination of engine choices spanning I4, I6, V6, and V8 arrangements.
The smaller I4 was from, you guessed it, the Ford Pinto and was included as a way to offer a fuel efficient model. 1979 was the year of the second Arab oil embargo of the 1970s with the auto industry trying to respond with more fuel efficient models. Unfortunately that move came at the expense of power as 88 horses meant that the base steed was a real dog.
But at least Ford didn’t abandon power, offering a turbocharged version of its I-4 engine which increased horsepower by 60 percent or buyers could choose a 2.8L V6, 3.3LI6, or even the 5.0L V8. That latter engine disappeared for a few years in 1980 in favor of a 4.2L V8, but came back later and included a high output option in 1985. By the mid-1980s, Ford and other automakers began to figure out how to make engines work more efficiently, introducing fuel injection and pairing these engines with more modern transmissions.
By the time the early 1990s rolled around Ford’s fox body platform had run its course which meant that something new, or in the Mustang’s case, something heavily modified needed to be offered. Yes, the fourth generation Mustang introduced in 1994 was all-new, but underpinning that steed was a fresh fox derived platform–code-named SN-95—used by Ford for yet another eleven years.