Does the Mustang's Heritage Mean an EcoBoost Engine is Coming?
by Patrick Rall
Since the Blue Oval began installing their EcoBoost engines into various vehicles across the its lineup, there have been rumors that one of these high tech turbocharged engines will find its way into the Ford Mustang. Those rumors have been somewhat confirmed in off-the-cuff comments by Ford boss Bill Ford Jr., but there has been no official work from the folks at Ford. However, Ford has shown a strong preference for using the modern Mustang to reincarnate old school Mustang models (like the 2003-2004 Mach 1 or the awesome new 2012 Boss 302) so could the first application of the EcoBoost equipped Mustang pay homage to the SVO or Turbo GT Mustangs of the 1970s and 1980s.
When the first turbocharged engine was introduced to the Mustang in 1979, this 2.3L 4-cylinder packed 132 horsepower while the premium engine offer for that year--the carbureted 5.0L V8--offered just 140 horsepower. So the first turbocharged 4-cylinder in 1979 was just a shade less powerful than the V8 option. And come 1980, the 5.0L V8 was gone and in its place was the new 4.2L V8 which offered just 119hp; making the turbo 2.3 the premium performance engine for the 1980 model year. Unfortunately, the turbocharged option would vanish after the 1980 model year, with the 4.2L engine being the premium option in 1981. In 1982, the 5.0 would return with 157hp.
When the 1983 Ford Mustang hit the streets, the new Turbo GT trim line was introduced featuring a beefed up version of the 2.3L turbo-4 offered a few years earlier. The 1983 Mustang Turbo GT packed 145 horsepower while the carbureted 5.0L HO GT offered 176 horsepower, so while the turbo-4 was a performance option, it still fell short of the V8. In 1984, there was a new addition to the turbocharged Mustang lineup as the SVO joined the Turbo GT. The Turbo GT offered the same 145hp as it did in 1983, but the 2.3L turbocharged engine in the Mustang SVO made 175 horsepower--putting it even with the 175hp offered by the 5.0L HO Mustang GT from the same model year, and for the first time since 1980, a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine was the premium performance engine for the mighty Mustang.
For the 1985 model year, the Ford Mustang saw the Turbo GT go away while the SVO soldiered on with even more horsepower than the year before. It now packed 205hp while the 5.0L HO Mustang GT V8 made just 210hp. So while the V8 was once again the most powerful engine option, it wasn't ahead by much. 1986 marked the final year for the turbocharged 4-cylinder SVO package for the Mustang, but in its final model year, the 2.3L engine in the Mustang SVO offered 205 horsepower while the now-fuel injected 5.0L Mustang GT made just 200hp - making the turbocharged 4-cylinder once again the most powerful engine in the Mustang lineup.
So if an EcoBoost engine (be it 4 or 6 cylinders) makes its way into the Ford Mustang, we should expect it to be able to go head to head with the popular 5.0L Coyote V8 from the modern Mustang GT. but with the GT offering 412hp and the entry level 3.7L V6 Mustang packing 305hp, an EcoBoost engine with somewhere in the area of 315-350hp sporting improved fuel economy over the V6 would do a fine job of reliving the glory days of the turbocharged 4-cylinder Mustang.