Jim Smart
August 1, 2002
Photos By: The Mustang Monthly Archives

The new Mustang's interior reminded us of the '69-'70 models with their pod-style dashboard and recessed instrument panel. Seating comfort was vastly improved over 1993. Rear-seat legroom was nonexistent. Trunk space was way down from 1993. Convertible trunk space was even worse. We thought of the '94 Mustang as a two-seater with room for only small children in back. The all-new Mach 460 sound system was a first for Mustang. Mustang was a fun car to drive with a six or a V-8. In some respects, the six was more fun because it was light on its hooves and held the road nicely. The 3.8L Essex V-6 was a peppy improvement over the anemic 2.3L OHC standard four available in 1993. If you couldn't afford a Mustang GT, the V-6 was a nice alternative.

The 5.0L High Output V-8, available only in the Mustang GT, was rated at 240 horsepower. Where the horsepower rating seemed to be an illusion was due to the car's increased weight for 1994. With the throttle pinned wide open, the 5.0L High Output just didn't pull like it did in 1993. That was the weight penalty rearing its ugly head. Despite the performance penalty, the redesigned '94 Mustang felt good to drive. Its superior handling made it that way.

Another item that made the '94 Mustang unique was the optional removable hardtop for convertibles. Ultimately, the removable hardtop proved elusive. Very few were produced with this option, and it was dropped later in 1995.

Why Change A Good Thing-1995
The '95 Mustang roared onto the scene with few changes, mostly in the area of color. Because Mustang sales in 1994 were well over 200,000 units, Ford felt the same great air of success it did in 1964 with the original Mustang. Not hell-bent to change a good thing, Ford left the car alone. Think of the '95 Mustang as a carryover of 1994. The really groovy removable hardtop for convertibles was dropped midyear.

Going Mod-1996
We have to call the '96 Mustang GT and Cobra the beginning of a new era for Ford's most successful nameplate. After 32 years of small-block Ford power, 1996 was the first year the V-8 Mustang would be powered by something altogether new-the 4.6L Modular SOHC and DOHC V-8s. Back in 1964, an overhead cam Mustang would have been considered exotic for a beer and pretzel carline. In 1996, it signaled a new beginning for the Mustang.

The 4.6L SOHC V-8, standard in the Mustang GT, was clearly a more advanced engine than the 5.0L pushrod V-8 it replaced. It had cross-bolted main bearing caps, single overhead camshafts in aluminum heads, a crankshaft-driven oil pump, a super lightweight nodular iron crankshaft, powdered metal/cracked connecting rods, and a nearly square bore and stroke. The 4.6L SOHC engine was different from the 5.0L in terms of power. It lacked the low-end grunt torque of a 5.0L. Instead, it made its power at higher revs, coming on strong at 3,500 rpm and higher. It also sounded different than the 5.0L V-8, with a whirbly exhaust pulse at idle and a deeper, richer tone at revs. When the automotive press was goosing throttles at Ford's Romeo, Michigan, proving grounds during the summer of 1995, it became clear we were embarking upon a fresh idea for the 32-year-old nameplate. The Mustang would never be the same again.

Something else that would change dramatically was engine electronics for 1996. Prior to 1996, the Mustang's engines had long been controlled by Ford's EEC-IV (Electronic Engine Control, Generation IV), which was first used in the early '80s. For 1996, Mustangs received something new called EEC-V, a more interactive form of electronics that's a tattletale for any engine issues. Pull a spark-plug wire and EEC-V knows. Tamper with the engine and EEC-V knows about it. Good for the Ford Service technician, but not always good for the home mechanic. EEC-V did everything EEC-IV did, only much faster and in greater detail.