Friday, January 3, 2014

A History in Four Cylinder Mustangs

                A new Ford Mustang is upon us.  Should you be excited?  Yes, very excited.  The key to Ford’s ongoing success is its heart and soul.  Much like Porsche needs to build a 911, Ford will always build three vehicles.  There will always be an F series pickup.  Ford will of course build a four door family car. And Ford will build a Mustang.  Ford has been building these three vehicles in some fashion for the last fifty years and no matter what trends and niches appear in the market place you better believe they will be building these three vehicles in the next fifty years.
                Usually when a car gets an update it met with either high praise or indifference.  Very few cars also cause controversy.  The Ford Mustang causes controversy no matter what Ford decided to do to it.  The biggest controversy this time around sits between the front tires.  A new engine is coming to the Mustang in the form of an Ecoboost 2.3 liter turbocharged four cylinder.   The rumored specifications sound very promising for this new Mustang.  Ford claims the new power plant will produce more horsepower and torque than the current V6 engine and gets better MPGs which will make CAFE standards happy.  Of course it doesn’t matter that this engine will produce much more power than even Cobras were pulling a little over a decade ago.  “If it doesn’t have a V8 it is not a Mustang.” That is what all the Mustang snobs are saying on the World Wide Whiners.  Why don’t we take a look at history before shooting down this new engine?
                For one, there have been several four cylinder engines in the Mustang.  The first four banger appeared in the 1974 Mustang II.  Not a memorable year for Mustang fans, because it stands alone as the only year a V8 was not an option for the Pony Car.  Similar to the original, the Mustang II was based on another Ford car.  Most the underpinnings for the Mustang II came from the Pinto instead of the Ford Falcon the original shared so much from.  Even though the Mustang II received high praise back in 1974 including taking home Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award, most fans tend to cringe at the 88 horsepower weakling.  Whether Ford fans want to accept it or not the straight four remained an option for Mustang Buyers for a long time.  With fuel prices rising and emissions being a problems for go fast fans, Ford did try to refine the four cylinder option.  In 1979 a turbo charger was added to the mix.  Yes hater the new Mustang isn’t reinventing anything. Ford had the idea back in ’79.  Power was respectable at 140 horsepower but the primary reason for this engine was fuel economy.  Still, in 1980 the most powerful engine you could put under and Mustang hood was the turbo four.  It remained that way until 1982 when the 302 made a comeback.  I cannot talk about four cylinder Mustangs without talking about the SVO.   SVO stands for Special Vehicle Operations.  The SVO was around for only three years and in limited numbers starting in 1984.  The first year of the SVO saw a power rating that equaled the V8 option.  Power did increase to 200 horsepower for the 1986 SVO.  That would bring an end to the turbo four in the Mustang; however, the naturally aspirated four cylinder would remain until 1993. 
                In fifty years of history the Mustang had a four cylinder option for almost 20 years. The Mustang means different things to different people.  Yes, to many it is a V8 powered straight line drag racer and those people can still get the car they want.  Many car buyers want a sexy coupe that is fun to drive but mostly nice to look at.  It would be nice if their sexy dream car didn’t drink their rent money in gas.  I am excited about this new four cylinder engine. I think it will be a big seller for a lot of buyers and not just those abroad that Ford claims will be most interested in a smaller displacement engine.  I think car buyers right here in the US of A will buy it up at the right price and if the miles per gallon promise actually holds some water. 

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