Site hosted by Build your free website today!


"The 1984-1985 4 doors Mustang GT"

A 4 doors Mustang GT?

This article is dedicated to the lovers of the high performance American automobiles, and specially the Mustang 5.0.

 Did you know that in an eighteen month period between March 1984 and August 1985 Ford built what we may call a "4 doors Mustang GT"? Did you know that this vehicle was the fastest 4 doors sedan built in the US in 1984 and 1985? Did you know that the performance and handling of this American sedan is comparable to that of the BMW series 3 and 5 of those years?

Well yes, in that period of time Ford built in the US a high performance 4 doors sedan with it mechanic and drive-train based on the 1984-1985 Mustang GT, and using the same 5.0 HO V8 (302) engine; of this extraordinary and very uncommon vehicle only 3,260 units were built, which make this automobile, if not a classic, certainly a future collectable. This magnificent automobile is considered by many the best American sedan ever built.


But what is and how this vehicle came to be?

The vehicle in question is the 1984-1985 Ford LTD LX, at the time it was the 4 doors sedan with the highest performance and the only real wheels drive mid size sedan made in the US.

All those that of in one way or another feel passion for automobiles, remember what in Venezuela was known as the 1983-1985 Ford Granada/Granada Elite (LTD in the US), also remember that given the many problems with the 3.8 liters V6 engine with aluminum heads and iron block, the 83-85 Granada earned a very bad reputation, which is really a pity, because those that own or owned a 1983-1985 Granada (LTD) knows that because its rack and pinion steering system, its rear-wheels drive, and a suspension that it’s easily improved with already available factory and aftermarket Mustang components, and by simple replacing the V6 with a 5.0 HO V8 (302) engine, also form the Mustang, this could be a really fun to drive automobile. The 83-85 Granada was sold as LTD in the US, in those days the big size LTD was renamed Crown Victoria. The new mid size LTD was built over an improved version of the Fairmont/Zephyr “FOX” chassis.

In the early 80’s Bob Bondurant, ex Carroll Shelby’s Cobra and Dan Gurney’s Formula one Eagles pilot, and founder in 1968 of one the first and better race drivers schools of the United States, had diversified its operations and expanded its services to provide training in of defensive driving and anti-kidnappings techniques to personalities of the public life, politicians and its drivers, but Bondurant needed a rear-wheels drive high performance American 4 doors sedan that could keep up with the Mustangs that were already in us at his school, but such a beast didn’t exist in the American market; so after a careful study, Bob and its Engineers and mechanics concluded that the best platform for such a car was the mid-size LTD, among other things because it was the only rear-wheels drive mid size sedan in the American market, and since the LTD was basically an stretched out Mustang, all what it was needed was to drop in a V8 and to improve the suspension to make the car behaves like the Mustang, and since the components were interchangeable between these two vehicles, they started to modify a 1984 LTD, which was easier than what they have initially believe since it was just a matter of bolting on the Mustang parts into the LTD, the only “major” modification was the pedal assembly and the 5 speed manual transmission from the Mustang GT. Additionally the LTD had a more stylized and aerodynamic shape that its 4 wheels square boxes Fairmont/Zephyr predecessors.

Initially Ford offered the new LTD (Granada 83-84-85 in Venezuela) only in 4 and 6 cylinders versions, but because its chassis had derived from the Mustang and Fairmont, the latest one was available in 1978-1979 with a 302 V8, and since for the LTD this platform had been reinforced and made more rigid than the previous ones to suppress  noises and vibrations, Bondurant thought, and not without reason, that the 175 HP 5.0 HO V8 of Mustang GT and its manual 5 speeds transmission would be a direct fit, and thus it was. It is paradoxical that the improvements that  Ford originally made to the “FOX” chassis to make the new mid size LTD feel as solid, quiet and comfortable as its big brother the Crown Victoria, contributed to make the LTD LX one of the best 4 doors sedans in the world.

The 1984 LTD  prototype of Bob Bondurant

The metallic Red prototype of the V8 LTD of Bondurant was fitted with 600 pounds coil springs up front and 270 pounds coil springs in the back, as well as with a pair of huge stabilizer bars of 1.3 inches up front and of 0.79 inches in the back, 10 inches front disk brakes and 9 inches rear drums; Bondurant also used the rear lower control arms and bushings of the Mustang’s performance package as well as Koni shock at the four corners, 7 inches wheels and Good Year Eagle NCT P235/60 R14 tires completed the modification. This vehicle was tested at Sears Pint by Motor Trend magazine in March 1984 with the following results: 0-60 MPH (96.56 Km/h) 7.5 seconds ¼ mile 15.9 seconds @ 89 mph (143.23 kph) 60-0 mph (96.56-0 kph) breaking distance 136 pies (41.45 metros).

These numbers are excellent, specially for the time, we must remember that the US was just getting over the oil crisis and the manufacturers still were more concerned with the fuel economy than the performance of their vehicles.

This beautiful 1985 LTD LX belongs to Scott Chamberlain of San Diego, California, this vehicle has several modifications and improvements such as 5 bolts Cobra wheels and brakes, Cobra Engine and 5 speed manual transmission.

Right after Bob finished its modifications to the LTD, several Ford executives attended the Bondurant’s school, among them Donald Pettersen, President of the company, Edsel Ford III, and Red Polling, chief of the North America operations; Pettersen, and engineer, was impressed with the Bondurant’s V8 LTD, and noticed the potential of the car as a high performance Ford sedan to favorably compete with the BMWs of the series 3 and GM’s front-wheels drive Pontiac 6000 STE and immediately ordered the production of the LTD LX. Ford keep most of the changes made by Bondurant, but to make the car more comfortable replaced the Koni struts and shock for gas filed struts and shocks, and the and the Good Year Eagle NCT P234/60 R14 tire were replaced by the and the Good Year Eagle GT P205/70 R14, and to off when the 4 bbl carburetor that was replaced by a CFI throttle–body injection system to improve the fuel economy and to meet pollution standard in the production vehicle. Unfortunately the 5 speed manual transmission was not carry over to the production line, so the LTD LX was available only with an automatic AOD with a console mounted shifter (the same used in the automatic Mustang), the optional locking differential of the LTD line was made standard on the LX and Ford also installed a pair of individual reclining front seats with inflatable lumbar support, also blacked out most of the chrome plated moldings and interior knobs. In the LX Ford installed a digital clock, that in my personal opinion, is not as nice and accurate as the quartz analog available in the other models and that is a better match to the new LTD LX analog instrument panel with tachometer.

The production LTD was fitted with a handsome instrument cluster that includes a 7,000 RPM tachometer to the left of the speedometer, this a very rare cluster, and even rarer is the CERTIFIED 140 MPH  225 km/h) police speedo

Instrument cluster with tachometer 140 MPH speedometer

The automotive press immediately saw the 1984 LTD LX as the best American interpretation of a 4 doors GT, and the 1984 LX  won the Motorweek's "Driver's Choice Award" as the best Four Door Sedan of the the year.

Unfortunately Ford was already preparing for the introduction in 1958 of the front-wheels drive Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable, and the LTD LX had a very short live in the production line, only 18 month and 3260 units built. The none LX LTD was in production until 1986, however the
Taurus was a Ford's smashing success, and the FOX LTD disappeared from the production line.

1991 Taurus SHO

In 1989 Ford recognized the need for a high performance 4 doors sedan and introduced the Taurus SHO, a Transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive sedan powered by a Yamaha 3.0L V6, this is a nice car, but one that will never live up to the LTD LX and its 5.0 HO V8 and rear wheel drive, oddly enough the 89 V6 Taurus SHO (Super High Output)  at 3380 pounds is 177 pound heavier than the LTD LX and the lates 1999 model year, with a 3.4 liter DOHC V8 is at 3440 pounds, 237 pounds heavier: There has been claims saying that the Taurus SHO will outperforms the LX on the skip pad, but as factory equipped, both cars showed a .81 g lateral acceleration on the 300 ft skidpad, however  the factory tires on the SHO were P215/60 R16 94V as compared to the  P205/70 R14 Eagle GT of the LX.

The LTD LX was the fastest 4 doors American sedan en 1984-1985, and the police version was, and still is, one of the fastest police vehicles ever built in the US.

The year now is 2004, so perhaps en few years we may see this extraordinary and very uncommon sedan become one of the most saw after by collectors of high performance American automobiles.

Is there an LTD LX in Venezuela? no that I know off, but after reading the Motor Trend article about Bondurant's LTD, and since I own a 1984 Granada Elite V8, few years back I started to make some of the Bondurant's modifications to it, they will soon end as a full LTD LX conversion, view Granada Elite V8 to LTD LX.

José M. Valdés R.

Visitors since Jun 25 de 2004
Hit Counter

Copyright© 1997-2004 José M. Valdés R.
 All right reserved.