Why was the '82 Mustang GT equipped with a two-barrel instead of a four-barrel? Clark told me that they wanted the four-barrel, but emissions standards dictated that a new four-barrel, or even the 4350 carb from the out-of-production 460 big-block, would have required a 50,000-mile EPA cycle for certification. That took time and money, and the 5.0L V-8 team had neither. Also, an intake manifold would have been a problem since existing four-barrel versions were a high-rise design and too tall for the Mustang's hood profile. Even with the two-barrel setup, the non-functional scoop from the '79 hood was needed in order for the air cleaner, borrowed from the H.O. police package, to fit underneath.
Cylinder heads were identical to the earlier 5.0L, but they were equipped with higher rate valvesprings to eliminate coil bind with the H.O.'s Ford marine cam with its higher lift and longer duration. The cast-iron headers were also the same as before, but the exhaust system was enlarged with a 2.25-inch collector and 2.5-inch exhaust pipe, enabling the engine to breathe better while also delivering a deep exhaust note, which was sorely missing in those days of wheezy sixes and trembling fours.
The improvements resulted in 157 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, the best for a Mustang since 1973. EPA mileage ratings of 17 mpg city and 29 highway proved that Ford engineers could deliver power, performance, and good mileage.
The GT came with a four-speed overdrive gearbox that felt more like a "3-1/2-speed" with a tall 0.70:1 top gear. A 3.08 rear gear ratio with Traction–Lok was standard.
George Lowe, shown here with...
George Lowe, shown here with a Bondurant School '85 Mustang, was Mustang/Thunderbird and EXP Marketing Plans Manager and one of the key people at Ford for the development of the Mustang GT and the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. Like his engineering counterparts, Jim Clark and Jim Kennedy, Lowe understood the need for a performance Mustang in the spring of 1981.
The "Boss is back" print campaign...
The "Boss is back" print campaign heralded the Mustang GT in enthusiast magazines, including the cover of the September 1981 Motor Trend.
Although it produced only...
Although it produced only 157 horsepower, the '82 GT's 5.0L H.O. engine was a step in the right direction and led directly to more power for the 5.0L Mustangs of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Jim Kennedy was the Mustang suspension engineer. Like Clark, he was a car enthusiast who was especially passionate about the Mustang's performance revival. When I asked Kennedy about the '82 Mustang GT, he explained, "The rear suspension included traction bars to handle the increased torque. They were the under-ride versions, similar to the traction bars used on the '66 Shelby G.T.350. Prior to Mustang's 5.0L H.O., there wasn't an engine that could push the TRX suspension to its limits."
The TRX suspension was developed around a set of 15.3-inch forged aluminum wheels that mounted P195/65R390 Michelin TRX elliptical performance radials. The package also included special springs, sway bars, shocks and struts, and bushings.
The variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering remained unchanged. Power brakes were improved with larger 256mm front discs with semi-metallic pads up front, providing for much greater swept area. The same 9.0x1.75-inch drums were used at the rear.
For the '82 GT, Ford stylists reached into the parts bin to utilize the front fascia from the '79 Indianapolis Pace Car, Marchal driving lights, hoodscoop, and rear spoiler. Instead of the wild colors, goofy graphics, and garish tape stripes of the past decade, the new Mustang GT was especially appealing with its monochromatic paint and understated but aggressive stance. Tasteful GT emblems and the now iconic "5.0" emblems were the only exterior identification. The '82 Mustang GT was offered in only three colors--red, silver, and black.
Interior colors were limited to red and black. The optional Recaro seats were the same as those found in the '79 Pace Car. Knowing that enthusiasts would want an instrument panel with a full complement of gauges, the interior designers created one with a simple, clean dash fascia for a tachometer and fuel, amp, oil pressure, and temperature gauges.
The 5.0L H.O. package was available with any Mustang, although the GT package was offered only for the three-door hatchback. Suddenly, Mustang became an exciting, fun-to-drive performance car again. A well-equipped '82 GT carried an MRSP of around $11,000.
J. Walter Thompson, Ford's advertising and communications agency, created the ad campaign, "The Boss is back." For the first time in over 12 years, the ads were not full of empty promises. The Mustang GT delivered the goods and so did the advertising.