1980 Ford Mustang
8-cyl. 255cid/119hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The 1979 Ford Mustang did a lot to resurrect the serious performance image of the Mustang. Given the big changes of the year before, the 1980 model was mostly a slight evolution with small but thoughtful changes, most of them a distinct sign of their times.
Thanks to the second OPEC Oil Crisis, the “5.0” was gone from the lineup, replaced by a wheezing 4.2-liter V-8 that made only 119 horsepower. The engine offerings continued to include the anemic 2.3-liter inline-4 (88hp) and the dated 3.3-liter six-cylinder (91hp).
The departure of the “5.0” meant the Cobra was the most powerful Mustang for 1980. It featured a 2.3-liter 2V turbocharged inline-4 making 132 horsepower at a throaty 6,000 RPM. You could also get the Cobra with the V-8, which despite making only 119hp, provided the most torque, at 193 pound-feet.
The Cobra was visually updated for 1980 with the aerodynamic ground effects from borrowed from the 1979 Mustang Indy 500 Pace Car Edition. It also came with Marchal fog lights, and a (non-functional) cowl induction hood. That hood could also be adorned with the wonderfully ‘80s Cobra snake decal as an option. On the inside, you could get the Cobra with Recaro sport seats, which is a desirable option to keep an eye out for when Fox body shopping.
A convertible Mustang would not be offered for another three years. Instead, Ford offered the 1980 Mustang with the “carriage roof,” which was a sleepy landau top for coupe models.
The highest number sold was the base model 2-door sedan, or commonly known as the “Notchback,” at 128,893 sold. The base model hatchback or “Fastback” was the next most common, with 98,497 sold. The uprated luxury model trim was still the Ghia, and Ford sold 23,647 Notchback Ghias compared 20,285 Fastback Ghias in 1980.
The rarest of the rare in 1980 were the M81 McLaren Mustangs. Created by McLaren Engines of Michigan, they were developed for Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations, with IMSA in mind. Only ten were built, and all ten featured an improved version of the turbocharged powerplant.