It’s time to put some old opinions about Detroit’s “late-model” cars from the ’80s and ’90s to pasture, in particular that they lack character. In terms of the performance car market, the ’80s was a time of renewed interest in power and speed, and Detroit was finally making things progressively more interesting in showrooms. Today, performance cars of that period offer excellent value and remain practical drivers, while also delivering a dose of nostalgia to those of us who fondly recall these models when they were new.
The Generation-X bunch learned quickly that cars such as the 1987 Ford Mustang GT offered thrilling straight-line acceleration with a respectable ability to manage lateral G-forces thanks to a tuned suspension. Continued fuel management engineering yielded another bonus, as the 5.0-liter small-block sipped noticeably less fuel than many of its performance V-8 predecessors.
These same enthusiasts also discovered that the generation of Mustangs to follow the Fox offered numerous improvements. The 1994-’95 Ford Mustang GT boasted sleeker styling, more power, and improved handling. Nearly three decades later, the redesigned “SN-95” Mustang is getting a second glance, not only from those who want to rekindle a relationship with their old flame, but from others who have discovered that ’90s performance is both underrated and remarkably affordable… for now, at least.
In true performance fashion, the GT’s engine remained a spritely 5.0-liter V-8, which translated to 302 cubic inches, but to clear the redesigned body, a new low-profile intake manifold was used. Internally, a 4.00 x 3.00-inch bore and stroke, as well as a 9.0:1 compression ratio, were carry-over measurements, but the new corporate EEC-V electronic engine management system controlled it all. Coupled with the continued use of a roller-cam valvetrain, 60-mm throttle body, tuned stainless-steel tubular headers and a dual exhaust system, the high-output 302 was now rated at 215 hp (10 more than the last Fox-body 5.0 the year before, though that rating had been dropped from 225 hp in 1992) and 285 lb-ft of torque.The reconfigured 5.0 was also used in the GT the following year, which seemed to bother no one, since the Ford small-block was familiar to fans of performance Mustangs and had proven somewhat bulletproof during the Fox era. It also remains easily rebuildable thanks to a vast supply of OE and aftermarket parts. Just as compelling, aftermarket parts suppliers have been able to support the needs of those who desire increases in power output from the V-8 in the early SN-95 models.
The 1994-’95 Mustang GT was delivered with one of just two transmissions. The standard unit was the then-familiar BorgWarner T-5 five-speed manual, introduced to the Mustang with the 1983 model that, by 1993, could manage 300 lb-ft of torque. Optional was Ford’s “electronically controlled” four-speed automatic with overdrive, often referred to as the AOD-E.
Regardless of which transmission was ordered, all V-8 Mustangs received Ford’s 8.8-inch rear axle fitted with a Traction-Lok limited-slip differential as standard equipment, initially containing a final drive ratio of 2.73:1. Ford soon made the 3.08 gearset optional in manual cars, with the 3.27 available in automatics. Changing ring-and-pinion sets has long been a common practice to improve acceleration, and the 8.8-inch axle is well supported both by Ford and the aftermarket, with many additional ratios available