Ford's turbo-four Mustang experiment of the '80s didn't make a huge splash in the automotive world. However, the short-lived run of Special Vehicle Operations' Ponies certainly earned fans. One has to wonder, though, what the outcome might have been had Ford offered the spirited SVO as a convertible instead of just the hatchback. While we can only speculate, Rod Allen has a better idea of what a turbo-four drop-top might have been like.
In 1989, Rod, from Lexington, Kentucky, bought a slightly used '87 triple-beige convertible, which served as his daily driver for five years until a drunk driver smashed into the side. That provided the impetus for Rod to switch to the more exciting Jalapeno Red paint, followed by the addition of factory ground effects, GT front- and rear-bumper covers, and a new top.
Around that time, friend Ron Faulconer put a bug in Rod's ear about an SVO conversion via an SVO engine and suspension swap. And that was all it took to get the project rolling.
"The parts would have to come from an '86 SVO with low mileage," Rod explained. "After a six-month search, I found the car I needed-a crunched '86 SVO with 24,900 miles.
Working together, Rod and Ron stripped the SVO and readied the base convertible for the conversion.
"Once that was done," says Rod, "the underneath and firewall were painted red and clearcoated. Kenny Blair did all of the paintwork. He also built the four-point rollcage and installed subframe connectors.
"After that, I brought the car home and stripped the interior. In Tyro, Ohio, I came across a wrecked police car, which had a 140-mph speedometer and deleted options package, so I purchased its gray interior. I also decided to make my car a two-seater and removed the back seat."
Around this time, Rod also started work on the car's underpinnings, including the addition of original Koni shocks and struts, factory upper and lower control arms, Eibach springs, a 3.73 SVO rearend, and SVO wheels. Of course, the 2.4L turbo engine and five-speed tranny salvaged from the SVO also went into their new home.
"Ron and I put all of the SVO parts in the car," says Rod. "When Ron accepted a third-shift position at work and could no longer help me, Bob Parker came into the picture. Bob is an electronics expert, so he wired the car and checked all of the work that had been previously done. In 1986, major changes were made for the '87 model year, so Bob needed an SVO to help with the wiring. My friend David Warren just happened to own an '86 SVO. The factory '86 wiring loom was used for the passenger side, but the driver-side loom was from the '87 car. We also used the '87 dash. When we couldn't get spark or fuel, Bob brought in a technician, Mark Crouter, who worked nearly 20 hours to make it run. Once he was finished, it sounded as if it had come from the factory with the turbo four."
Now that the engine and driveline conversions had been satisfactorily completed, Rod put the final touches on the car.
"For the two-seater look, I called Steve Saleen," Rod says. "He made me a cover-of which only two were made for the '87 Mustang-that covers the back seat area and the top when it's down. I also ordered a Saleen wing and a new trunk lid without a luggage rack." Rod finished the project by adding a fiberglass Cervini SVO hood and a serious sound system.
"From 1984 to 1986," Rod says, "only 9,844 SVO Mustangs were made. An SVO convertible was never made. However, I believe that had Ford made one, it would look something like mine."
Nevertheless, Ford didn't offer an SVO convertible, so in order not to offend SVO owners, his license plate says it best-I MADE 1.