1986 was the final year for the four-eyed Fox Body Mustang. Starting in 1987 it would have a whole new face. ‘86 was also the final year for the SVO Mustang. The additions made for the 1986 Mustang were more subtle than in previous years, but they did improve performance.
1986 Ford Mustang Specs
||88 hp @ 4,800 RPM
||122 lb-ft @ 2,800 RPM
||120 hp @ 3,600 RPM
||205 lb-ft@ 1,600 RPM
|5.0L V8 EFI
||200 hp @ 4,000 RPM
||285 lb-ft @ 3,000 RPM
|5.0L V8 4V
||210 hp @ 4,600 RPM
||265 lb-ft @ 3,400 RPM
|2.3L 4-cyl (SVO)
||175 hp @ 4,400 RPM
||210 lb-ft @ 3,000 RPM
||Adj. for Inflation
Production Numbers by Color
|Light Regatta Blue
|Dark Slate Metallic
|Dark Clove Brown
Interior Trim Colors
1986 Mustang Appearance
Appearance-wise, the 1986 Mustang was nearly identical to the previous year. The only change was the addition of a third, high-mounted brake light. This brake light was mounted on the spoiler for fastbacks and in the rear window for convertible and coupe body styles.
The front fascia had been changed slightly for 1985. This change was well-received and 1986 became the Fox Body’s third best-selling year with a total of 224,500 Mustangs sold.
The interior was unchanged. Several reviewers noted that this made the Mustang seem a little dated, if totally functional.
1986 Mustang Performance
The major performance changes for 1986 Mustangs were subtle. The clutch grew from 10” to 10.5”. Likewise, the rear differential for V8 models changed from the 7.5” to the 8.8”.
1986 Mustang Engines
Base LX Mustang models came with a simple 2.3L 4-cylinder engine. Out of all the engine options, this was the only one that was carbureted. All other engines were finally moved to an EFI format in ‘86.
If you opted for an LX convertible, you would receive a 3.8L V6 instead. The GT used a 5.0L V8, and the SVO came with a 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder.
LX models could be upgraded to either the V6 or V8. The LX 5.0s were a very popular option.
The only 5.0L engine available in 1986 was the one with fuel injection. The previous year’s carbureted V8 was no more. Though the EFI V8 makes less horsepower than the 4V version, it consistently shows better 0-60 and quarter-mile times.
LX Mustangs equipped with a 2.3L engine had either a four-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. All other Mustangs (including LX models equipped with a 5.0 engine) could be equipped with an AOD automatic transmission or a T-5 manual.
In 1985 the Mustang’s T-5 transmission was upgraded to the world-class model. There are a lot of differences between the two T-5 transmissions, but the world-class is absolutely the preferred model.
1986 Mustang Transmission Specs
|Transmission||First Gear||Second Gear||Third Gear||Fourth Gear||Fifth Gear
|T5 Manual Transmission
|AOD Automatic Transmission
1986 Mustang Special Editions
1986 was notably lacking in official special editions. Other than returning favorites like the SVO and SSP Mustangs, there weren’t other Ford-created specials.
There were more special edition Mustangs being created by tuner shops though. Saleen first started modifying Mustangs during the Fox Body generation. Though there were Saleen Mustangs in ‘84, and ‘85, it wasn’t until 1986 that Saleen started making race-ready versions. These helped bring much-needed publicity to Steve Saleen’s newest projects.
Saleen’s modifications included adjustable reach shocks, 16” wheels, a front air dam, and Hurst shifter. This list can serve as a great place to start when making your own Fox Body modifications.
1986 Mustang Mods
Upgrading the Fox Body’s interior is a popular and easy modification. The interior was primarily plastic and deteriorated with sun exposure and use. Changing out the steering wheel, shifter, and door handles can give a Fox Body a brand new feel.
In terms of performance, many elect to upgrade the T-5 transmission. Tremec makes updated T-5s that are better able to withstand significant power. This is a great first step towards performance oriented modifications.
Changing your Fox Body to a coilover suspension is a great way to improve handling. You can also use coilovers to lower your Fox Body, which improves appearance and lowers the center of gravity.
Some of the most extreme Fox Body performance upgrades include Coyote engine swaps and drift builds. Others prefer to perfectly restore their Fox Body to its original factory specifications. Both options have plenty of pros and cons. Ultimately, most people choose some level of restomod. Preserving the classic looks of a Fox Body while adding some modern conveniences gives you a unique and comfortable ride. Picking out 1986 Mustang parts for this goal is easy as well, since you're mostly looking for what looks best to you.
1986 Mustangs represent the best of the four-eyed Fox Body era. While the generation started with a few hiccoughs, by ‘86 the Mustang had returned to performance. With the GT trim in place, it was clear that there wouldn’t be a Mustang generation without an 8-cylinder option. Compared to the Mustang II and earlier Fox Bodies, there’s no question that ‘86 raised the bar for performance.
This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.