1979 began the third generation of the Mustang. A car would eventually help redefine the modern muscle car would first have to share a platform launched in 1978 for the Fairmont and Zephyr. There were two body styles – a coupe and a hatchback. There were 3 trim levels: Base, Ghia, and Cobra. This lineup lasted until 1981. There were three initial engines available: 2.3 L Pinto I4 (88 hp,) 2.8 L Cologne V6 (109 hr,) and the 4.9 L Windsor V8 (140 hp.) These were all leftover from the Mustang II powerhouse. Supply troubles saw the 2.8 L replaced with a 3.3 L Straight Six (85 hp.)
|2.3L 2V||88 hp @ 4,800 rpm||118 ft-lbs @ 2,800 rpm||n/a||(LOL)|
|2.3L 2V Turbo||132 hp @ 4,800 rpm||142 ft-lbs @ 3,500 rpm||n/a||17.36 @ 79.3 mph**|
|2.8L 2V V-6||109 hR @ 4,800 rpm||142 ft-lbs @ 2,800 rpm||n/a||n/a|
|3.3L 1V 6cyl||85 hp @ 3,600 rpm||154 ft-lbs @ 1,600 rpm||n/a||n/a|
|5.0L 2V V-8||140 hp @ 3,600 rpm||250 ft-lbs @ 1,800 rpm||8.7*||16.7 @ 82 mph|
Automatic transmission tested at 8.3 / 17.0 @ 84.4 mph ** Hot Rod Magazine
|Available Exterior Colors||Interior Trim Colors|
|Dark Jade Metallic||46||Vacquero|
|Light Chamois||83||White / Black|
|Light Medium Blue||3F||White / Blue|
|Light Wedgewood Blue Metallic||3H||White / Chamois|
|Medium Chestnut Metallic||5M||White / Red|
|Medium Gray Metallic||1P||White / Vacquero|
|Medium Red Metallic||2H|
|Medium Vaquero Glow||5W|
|Pewter Metallic (Pace Car)||1E|
|Track: (F/R)||Front 56.6″||Rear 57″|
|Curb Weight:||Coupe 2,550 lbs||Hatch 2,790 lbs||5.0 L V8 +320 lbs|
|Brakes:||Front 10″ Disc||Rear 9″ Drum|
|Wheels:||13″ X 5″||14″ X 5″||14″ X 5″||15.35″ X 5.9″|
|Transmission:||5.0 L V8,
SROD 4 speed
|All other engines,
|1979 Mustang VIN Decoder|
|Example: 9|R|03|F|0000019 – Model year last digit
R – Assembly plant: F-Dearborn, R-San Jose
03 – Body Code (See below)
F – Engine code (See below)
000001 – Consecutive unit number
Y – 2.3L 2V 4cyl 88hp
W – 2.3L 2V 4cyl 132hp Turbo
Z – 2.8L 2V V-6 109hp
T – 3.3L 1V 6cyl 85hp
F – 5.0L 2V V-8 140hp
02 – 2dr Sedan
03 – 3dr Hatchback
04 – 2dr Ghia Sedan
05 – 3dr Ghia Hatchback
|Location: Stamped on the plate which is riveted to the driver’s side of the dash, visible through windshield; the certification label is located on the the rear face of the driver’s door.|
Indy Pace Car
The 1979 Ford Mustang was once again selected as the Pace Car for the Indy 500. It was the 6th time a Ford was selected to pace the field of America’s then premiere race, and the second Mustang. The three original Pace Cars were specially prepared by Jack Roush, after completing duties at the Indy 500 the cars were repainted (white) for service in the Detroit Gran Prix that same year. They now sit patiently in Roush’s warehouse awaiting restoration to their original livery. The actual pace cars were fitted with T-Tops – an option that wouldn’t be available to the Mustang until 1981.
The production Pace Cars were finished in a two-tone pewter and black with orange commemorative graphics. Engine choices for the Pace Car were 2.3 L Turbo 4-cylinder and mandatory four-speed manual transmission, or the 302 ci V8 with either the manual or three-speed automatic transmission.
Jackie Stewart piloted the actual Mustang Pace car for the start of the 1979 Indy 500, while Jim Rathmann took over pacing duties during caution periods throughout the race. A Mustang would not be selected again to pace the field until 1994 with the Cobra convertible.
Pace Cars: 5,970 2.3 Turbo with manual transmission 2,106 5.0 V8 with automatic transmission 2,402 5.0 V8 with manual transmission.
1979 Mustang Cobra
In addition to the Pace Car – one other specialty optioned Mustang was available in 1979 – the Cobra. The option package was around $1,200. The exterior featured a forward facing hoodscoop with ‘Turbo’ badging, and a Cobra logo on the door above the molding– and all 1979 Cobras wore blacked out lower bumper and side trim and color-keyed side window louvers. The optional hood graphics would set ya back $78
The Cobra was available with the 2.3 L Turbo four-cylinder or the 5.0 L V8, a four-speed manual transmission, and 3.45 final gear ratio. Suspension modifications included HD front and rear sway bars, special shock-valving, and 15.35” (390mm) forged aluminum wheels wearing 190/65R Michelins. Sales materials promised 0-60 performance of 7.1 seconds.
Inside the car featured the Cobra insignia on the instrument panel, an 8,000 rpm tachometer, ribbed door trim insert, and special instrument panel lights including an audible overboost and engine oil temperature warning system.
A total of 17,579 Cobras were sold in 1979. With sales numbers like that, it’s surprising that we don’t see more of them on the road.
Wikipedia Ford Mustang
The Official Mustang 5.0 1979 through 1993 Technical Reference & Performance Handbook, Kirshenbaum – Bentley Publishers
Fox-Body Mustang Recognition Guide 1979-1993, Shreiner & Sessler – T-5 Design