What's a Fox Body Mustang?

1985 Twister II Ford Mustang
In 1984, Ford offered up a 1985 GT Twister II Mustang based on the Fox-Body design. Photo Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

Question: What’s a Fox Body Mustang?

Answer: The “Fox Body” Mustang, as it’s known, was the third generation of Ford Mustang. It was built on the Fox platform. The car first appeared in 1979 and spanned the entire 1980s through the 1993 model year. The car was lighter than the second generation Mustang II and it was also faster. In 1982 Ford matched the “Fox Body” Mustang up with a 5.0L V8 engine. This is commonly termed the “5.0 Mustang”.

In all, the “Fox Body” Mustang was more European visually, with less traditional Mustang styling cues throughout.

Fox Body Mustang Highlights

Sleek and redesigned, the 1979 was the first Mustang to be built on the new Fox platform, thus kicking off the third generation of the vehicle. The ’79 Mustang was longer and taller than the Mustang II, although in weight, it was almost 200 pounds lighter. Engine offerings included a 2.3L four-cylinder engine, a 2.3L engine with turbo, a 2.8L V6, a 3.3L inline-6, and a 5.0L V8.

In 1980, Ford dropped the 302-cubic liter V8 engine from the Mustang lineup. In its place they offered a 255-cubic inch V8 engine which produced close to 119 hp.

New emissions standards resulted in additional engine changes in the 1981 Mustang. The 2.3L engine with turbo was removed from the lineup.  

In 1984, nearly 20 years after its debut, Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations released the Mustang SVO.

An estimated 4,508 were produced. This special-edition Mustang was powered by a turbocharged 2.3L inline-four cylinder engine. It was capable of outputting up to 175 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. There’s no doubt about it, the SVO was a car to contend with. Unfortunately, its high price of $15,585 made it out of reach to many consumers.

Extending the celebration of the Mustang’s 25th anniversary, Ford released 2,000 limited edition jet-black Mustangs in the 1990 model year.

In 1992, Mustang sales were on a decline. In an effort to increase consumer enthusiasm, Ford released a limited-edition Mustang in the later part of the ’92 production year. Only a couple thousand of these limited-edition red convertibles with a special rear spoiler were ever produced. 

Ford wrapped up its Fox Body run with the 1993 Mustang. 

Other Mustang nicknames include:

SN95/Fox4 (1994-1998): This name signifies Fourth Generation Mustangs 1994-1998. These Mustangs were built on the SN-95/Fox4 Platform. They were larger than the original “Fox Body” Mustangs and they were engineered to be stiffer than their predecessor. They featured soft curves and rounded edges throughout.

New Edge (1999-2004): This name signifies Fourth Generation Mustangs 1999-2004. Although these cars were based on the same SN-95 platform, they featured sharper design lines and an aggressive stance in addition to a new grille, hood, and lamps.

S197 (2005-2009): In 2005 Ford ushered in the fifth generation of Mustang. This car was built on the D2C Mustang platform. The D was the vehicle class, 2 represented number of doors, and C represented coupe.

Codenamed the S-197, the car brought back styling cues seen on classic Mustangs. Its wheelbase was 6-inches longer than the previous generation, it featured C-scoops in the sides, and it touted the famous three-element tail lamps.

Nicknames don’t always relate to the vehicle platform. This is because vehicle platforms are shared between many vehicles. Take the Fox platform for instance. This platform supported 1980-1988 Ford Thunderbird, 1980-1988 Mercury Cougar, as well as many others. In this instance, however, the Mustang became the most relevant Fox platform vehicle, hence it’s nickname.