Hatchback vs Notchback MustangsLast Updated August 8, 2023 | Meghan Drummond
When the Fox Body generation began in 1979, two body styles were available: hatchback and notchback. These styles were carryovers from the Mustang II generation, but they’re most often associated with the Fox Body.
Fox body hatchbacks and notchbacks enjoyed equal popularity for most of the generation, which ran from 1979-1993. When the Mustang convertible returned in 1983, it wasn’t able to match either body style’s sales numbers.
Here are the similarities and differences between hatchback and notchback Mustangs, and which you should look for today.
What Is a Hatchback Mustang?
Sometimes labeled as a “3-door” Mustang, a hatchback is a car with a rear door that swings up to allow access to its cargo area. This practical feature makes it easier to reach items in the trunk. Hatchbacks are common now, but Ford had only been making them for a few years when the Fox Body debuted.
The body lines of the Fox Body hatchback resemble the first-generation fastback. Some Fox Body hatches even feature rear window louvers, a major style throwback. These touches really make the Mustang hatchback stand out from the practical hatchbacks you see today. But the Mustang hatchback was practical, too: The design tripled its storage capacity. With the rear seats down, it offered 32.7 cubic feet of storage space compared to the notchback’s 10 cubic feet.
What Is a Notchback Mustang?
Notchback Mustangs look much more like a traditional coupe. They have a standard trunk that opens into a closed cargo area. Notchbacks are often called coupes, and according to the official Ford literature of the time, they were also called sedans.
Obviously, a notchback Fox Body Mustang doesn’t look like a Camry or Taurus though.
Specifically, notchback refers to a car with a long hood and a short deck (or trunk). This creates a kind of “stepped” rear-end appearance. The V-cut indentation is where the notchback name comes from.
Hatchback Mustangs vs Notchback Mustangs
Fox Body Mustangs look good no matter which body style they come in. But there are some definite advantages to the hatchback and notchback styles. There are also huge differences in production numbers and trim and engine availability between each style.
One of the interesting things about the Fox Body generation was the competition between these two styles. The notchback began as the most popular, but that changed in 1981 when the hatchback slowly inched ahead. Later in the generation, performance editions were only available in hatchback styles. That really boosted the hatchback’s popularity.
|Year and Trim||Hatchback||Notchback|
|1979 Cobra II||17,579||N/A|
|1979 Pace Car||N/A||10,478|
|1979 Ghia Mustang||36,384||56,351|
|1980 Cobra Mustang||5,500||N/A|
|1980 Ghia Mustang||20,285||23,647|
|1981 Ghia Mustang||14,273||13,422|
|1982 L/GL Mustang||45,901||45,316|
|1982 Mustang GLX||9,926||5,828|
|1982 Mustang GT||24,799||N/A|
|1983 Turbo GT||556||604|
|1983 Mustang GT||27,995||N/A|
|1984 Mustang L/LX||52,329||37,660|
|1984 Turbo GT||3,241||N/A|
|1984 Mustang GT||30,630||N/A|
|1984 SVO Mustang||4,507||N/A|
|1985 Mustang LX||45,820||56,781|
|1985 Mustang GT||36,849||N/A|
|1985 SVO Mustang||1,954||N/A|
|1986 Mustang LX||73,633||83,774|
|1986 Mustang GT||40,678||N/A|
|1986 SVO Mustang||3,379||N/A|
|1987 Mustang LX||57,353||43,257|
|1987 Mustang GT||37,088||N/A|
|1988 Mustang LX||75,636||53,221|
|1988 Mustang GT||50,294||N/A|
|1989 Mustang LX||76,734||50,568|
|1989 Mustang GT||40,231||N/A|
|1990 Mustang LX||45,089||22,503|
|1990 Mustang GT||33,639||N/A|
|1991 Mustang LX||33,110||19,477|
|1991 Mustang GT||24,667||N/A|
|1992 Mustang LX||26,355||15,717|
|1992 Mustang GT||13,738||N/A|
|1993 Mustang LX||47,618||24,851|
|1993 Mustang GT||14,459||N/A|
|1993 SVT Cobra||4,993||N/A|
|1993 SVT Cobra R||107||N/A|
Is a Hatchback or a Notchback Right for You?
As Fox Body Mustangs have become classic cars in their own right, their popularity has soared. If you’re scouring local ad listings, you might be trying to decide whether a hatchback or notchback is a better fit for you.
Hatchbacks and notchbacks both come in aero and four-eyed styles, and they both have available 5.0L engines. That makes choosing between them tough. And even though notchbacks were cheaper initially, time and scarcity have made the two about dead-even in cost today.
Fortunately, there are a few other considerations that typically make one style a better fit over the other.
Get a Notchback Fox Body If…
If you’re mainly getting a Fox Body for a performance build, then a notchback may be a better fit.
Fox Body notchbacks are prized for their ability to become dynamite drag racing Mustangs. Being nearly 100 pounds lighter in some cases and having a stiffer body makes them better for most performance applications.
Notchbacks, especially later aero models, didn’t come with the best engine options, but if you’re already planning a swap that’s not really an issue. If you want a notchback with a factory V8, the Mustang LX 5.0s offer a great engine without a lot of bells and whistles.
Get a Hatchback Fox Body If…
Hatchback Fox Bodies, especially from the later years, are easier to find than notchbacks. The extra storage also makes them great for driving around town and on the track.
Most of the performance editions were hatchbacks as well. So if you have your heart set on one of those, then you’re getting a hatch.
The hatchback Fox Bodies also have a distinct look that many people find appealing.
|No special editions
Slightly harder to find
|Hatchback||Special editions available
Find and Build Your Dream Fox Body
There’s no doubt that all three Fox Body styles are great finds. You can build them into anything, from a daily driver with some style to a fully restored classic. Take a look at some of our Fox Body resources for ideas and help with your project.
And if you need some tips on finding your perfect Fox Body, check out our guide on what to look for when buying a Fox Body Mustang.
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If you’re considering turning a Fox Body Mustang into a drift 'Stang then there are a few things to consider. While most of these are improvements you’d make to any performance build, there are a few drift-specific modifications. From how to stiffen your chassis to what your suspension should look like, we’ve collected some of our top tips for making a Fox go sideways.
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