1979 Mustang
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The 1979 model year Mustang was based on the larger Fox platform that was initially developed for the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr twins that debuted in the 1978 model year. The larger body meant the interior offered more space for four passengers, especially in the back seat, as well as a larger capacity trunk and a bigger engine bay. Body styles included a coupe (notchback) and hatchback. Two trim levels were available and included the base model and the more luxurious Ghia model.

In addition to the base & Ghia trim levels, a Cobra appearance package also made its debut and would continue through both the 1980 & 1981 model years. The all-new 1979 Cobra (17,579 produced) featured black trim and grille area, chrome door handles, stainless steel lock sets & antenna, aluminum roof drip rail, body colored sail panels, black lower body-side paint, colored coordinated dual pinstripes in the wraparound body-side moldings and bumper grooves, an optional snake decal for the hood and Cobra lettering on the doors. There was no rear spoiler on the 1979 models (except on the mid year introduction of the Indianapolis Pace Cars).

On May 27th, 1979, the all-new Mustang was chosen as the Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500. Ford commemorated this event with a mid-year addition "Indy 500" Pace Car model (10,478 produced). The two-tone Pewter and Black colors were complimented with Orange and Red graphics. The front end featured a unique front air dam with fog lights, and a full length cowl type hood scoop, while the rear end got the new for '79 rear spoiler (all of these additions carried over to both the '80 & '81 Cobra). The black interior featured Recaro seats with patterned Black and White inserts. Available were the 2.3 L Turbo with mandatory four-speed manual transmission or the 5.0 L V8 with either an overdrive 4-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. The production cars included a sunroof. However, the three actual pace cars were fitted with a T-roof by Cars & Concepts of Brighton, MI. The T-roof option would not become an available option until the 1981 model year.

Engines for the 1979-1982 models included the 88 hp (66 kW) 2.3 L Pinto inline-four, 109 hp (81 kW) 2.8 L Cologne V6 (made by Ford of Germany), and the 140 hp (104 kW) 302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8; which was marketed as a 5.0 L engine and front fenders badged as such. All were carried over from the Mustang II line. Shortly after the model year started a 85 hp (63 kW) 3.3 L straight-six engine was available. Supplies of the 2.8 L V6 proved inadequate leading to it being discontinued in late 1979. A new 132 hp (98 kW) 2.3 L turbo four-cylinder, debuted that offered similar horsepower to the V8. The automaker had plans this engine would usher in a new era in performance. The 2.3 and 2.3 Turbo, as well as the V8 models could also be optioned with the newly developed TRX handling suspension that included Michelin 390 mm tires and specific metric wheels.

Following the second oil crisis in 1979, the 302 cu in (4.9 L) "5.0 L" engine was dropped in favor of a new 255 cu in (4.2 L) V8 due to its better fuel economy. It was the only V8 offered in 1980 and 1981. Basically a sleeved down 302, the 4.2 L V8 had restrictive heads and produced 120 hp (89 kW), the lowest power ever for a Mustang V8. The 4.2 L was mated only with the three-speed automatic transmission. This meant the 2.3 L Turbo 4 was the sole "performance" engine. The Turbo 4 was plagued with reliability issues from its release. Inadequate lubrication led to premature turbo failure and some engines caught fire. It was listed as an option through 1981, but dropped for 1982, although it was still available in Canada. This engine would return in the new-for-1983 Turbo GT. The "Traction-Lok" limited slip differential was available for the first time in 1981, with all engine combinations. A five-speed manual option arrived late during the 1980 model year, originally only in the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engines.


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