Are late-model Mustangs on their way to the Hidden Treasures scrap heap? By reader's emails, they are. Except, late-model doesn't mean what it used to. I recall stories of $300 Shelby's decades ago. Now '85 models are 25 years old.
SVO Club of America member Chris Chalk told me his story about an '84 SVO for $300. During one of the club's Sunday evening Internet chat sessions, a T-top SVO in the Fresno, California, area popped up on Craigslist. Advertised as an '83, the Mustang was in very rough shape and had a Mercury Capri front end, so the model year was difficult to verify by the photo. Then there was the question about the T-top; at the time, it was believed that SVOs did not come from the factory with T-tops.
Chris told us, "On a whim, I emailed the owner asking for more details. His reply basically said, '$300, come and get if before I take it to the crusher.'"
Chris drove from Portland, Oregon, to see the car. On arrival, Chris found a real T-code '84 SVO Mustang. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine was resting in a barn, while the accessories and some interior pieces were in the trunk. The transmission was gone but the SVO hood was still there. The complete suspension, which is specific to the SVO, was missing.
Most people would have seen this '84 as a parts car. Chris saw his SVO glass half full. "Apart from the front nose and lights, all the other SVO specific parts were in place and the body was mostly dent and rust free."
Three hundred bucks was a deal. With a friend heading from LA to Portland in a truck, Chris rented a trailer and his friend towed the car home the following week.
The engine came with a rare Ford Motorsports valve cover. Chris says, "The joke around the SVOCA was that I bought a valve cover and got a free car."
As to the T-top heritage, Chris is still doing his research. He says the SVOCA figures there are 25-30 T-top SVOs known to exist. His top appears to be made by Cars & Concepts, the same as used in factory T-top Mustangs. Chris plans to restore the SVO to stock.
The Immaculate Mustang
Todd Whalen responded to a humble ad: "For sale, 1970 Mustang." He didn't expect to find a 32,000-mile fastback "never driven in the rain" and stored in a "climate-controlled garaged its entire life."
Father Kenneth Fisk had passed away and the car went into an estate sale. Whalen called first and got the prize. He emailed pictures to me, including digital images of the details, like the flawless surface of the trunk beneath the original mat. One photo showed the passenger-side door jamb, also immaculate.
Aside from the seemingly mint condition of the vehicle, the '70 Mustang was also highly unusual in its makeup. Whalen's tone of disbelief was tinted with amusement as he explained, "It's got all the Mach 1 stuff, but it's not a Mach 1. It was ordered with the Mach 1 honeycomb rear end with flip-open gas cap. And even Bob Perkins can't believe it came with '69 emblems on the C-pillar. It's got a fold-down rear seat, radio delete, tilt steering, and dual sport mirrors." Father Fisk also ordered the electric clock, Rim-Blow steering wheel, fold-down rear seat, console, and power front disc brakes and steering. The engine is the F-code 302 two-barrel backed by a C-4 Select Shift Cruise-O-Matic.
Perhaps Father Fisk didn't want a flashy Mustang. Foregoing the Mach 1 package cut down on the pretentiousness. Todd got some information when he bought the car:
"I was told that the church bought the car and they didn't want it to be too flashy because the parish was paying for it. So they figured he ordered it just short of putting all the Mach 1 stuff on it."
Despite the unusual build, the major significance of this find is its originality. Whalen is adamant, "I've got two Boss 302s, one with 29,900 miles, and it doesn't come close to this thing. It's a time capsule."