With the introduction of the new Fox-platform Mustang for the 1979 model year, the Pinto-derived Mustang II was shown the door and a new era of Mustang performance began. Mustangs with ever-more-powerful V8s and turbocharged four-bangers hit the streets, rappers sang their praises and hot-rodded Ford ponies took over the drag strips. The thing is, we often forget that the Mustang also remained faithful to its origins as a sporty-looking yet economical commuter car during the Fox era, which means that plenty were sold with gas-sipping base engines and penny-pinching price tags. Here’s one of those cars, found in a North Carolina self-service knacker’s yard recently.

In 1987, the Mustang was available as a notchback two-door sedan, as a convertible and as a three-door hatchback. Except for 1979 and 1980, the hatchback always outsold the notchback during the 1979-1993 Fox era (in which more than 2.5 million Mustangs were sold).

The base engine in the 1987 Mustang LX was the 2.3-liter “Pinto” four-cylinder, rated at 90 horsepower and 130 pound-feet, and that’s what we have here.

The 1987 Mustang GT came with a 5.0-liter V8 making 225 horses and 300 pound-feet. Those wishing to get a lightweight sleeper Mustang that year could buy the LX notchback and order it with the V8 and affiliated components, which added $1,885 ($5,294 in 2024 dollars) to the car’s $8,043 sticker price ($22,591 after inflation).

The LX hatchback cost a bit more than the trunk-equipped ’87 Mustang, with an MSRP of $8,474 ($23,801 in today’s money). But this car has some costly options that pushed the price quite a bit higher, as we’ll see.

First, there’s the four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, which added $515 to the out-the-door cost ($1,447 now). There’s also air conditioning, which added between $788 and $1,028 depending on the package ($2,213 to $2,887 today). 

This car also has the nice cast aluminum wheels, which came with the V8 engine package and don’t seem to have been a factory option for 2.3-equipped cars. We can assume that these were swapped on after purchase.

The center caps were inside.

It’s in reasonably good condition for a 37-year-old car, much better than the majority of Fox Mustangs I find during my junkyard travels. Stuffing a Windsor V8 and manual transmission into one of these cars is an easy and relatively cheap project, but nobody intercepted this car during its route to the crusher. I think a hot-rodded Fox LTD or Cougar would be more fun, personally.

1987 was the model year for the Fox Mustang’s big facelift, which got rid of the old sealed-beam “four-eyes” headlights and added a grille much like the ones on Tauruses and Thunderbirds. The final year for the Fox Mustang was 1993, unless you consider the Fox-derived 1994-2004 SN95 Mustangs to be genuine Foxes.

Ford didn’t bother to make many TV commercials pitching the Mustang LX, instead focusing on the flashier GT. I was a broke college student in 1987 and a new Mustang was far out of my reach, but at least I owned a sporty Ford fastback with Windsor V8 and screaming Competition Orange paint at the time.

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