While we explained that the 2004 SVT Cobra is our favorite, there is no single vehicle that is as notorious on the street as the 5.0 Mustangs. From the late 1980’s onward, the 5.0 Ford Mustang GT has been known for one thing and one thing only: cheap horsepower. Starting in 1979, based on the Fox platform, the 5.0 Mustang of the early 1980s was a little underpowered (at just 140 horsepower from the 4.9 V8), but that perception soon changed as technology advancements allowed the automaker to produce a V8 that met emissions and fuel economy standards.
The result? A 225 horsepower V8 that was easily tuned to produce insane horsepower figures. To this day late 1980s and early 1990s 5.0 Mustangs are still sought after for their trademark notchback design and high potential from the V8.
Several variations of the 5.0 Mustang were released during the third generation (1979 – 1993) including the ultra-rare Mustang SVO (powered by a 175 horsepower turbocharged 2.3 I4), the SVT Cobra (powered by a 235 horsepower V8), and the SVT Cobra R (same engine as the SVT Cobra- it came with larger brakes, Koni shocks and struts, and other race-oriented enhancements).
The classic 5.0 Mustang, however, remained the popular choice due to its incredible value: 225 horsepower (as of 1987), jumping all the way up to 300 horsepower (as of 2009). Ironically, the 5.0 Mustang never actually had a 5.0 V8. Rather, for most of its life it had a 4.6L V8. The only time the engine was close to 5.0 was during the 1980s, when it was packaged with a 4.9 Windsor V8.
The 5.0L Mustang is the Honda Civic of the domestic tuning world: inexpensive, and easy to access. With hundreds of thousands of Mustang GTs sold, parts availability is not a problem, and the parts themselves are quite inexpensive. The 5.0 Mustang: inexpensive to purchase, inexpensive to make fast.