1980 Ford Mustang: Ultimate In-Depth Guide

History, Specs, Options, Performance & More

1980 Ford Mustang: Ultimate In-Depth Guide

1980 Ford Mustang

1980 Ford Mustang Overview

Not a lot of excitement for the 1980 Mustang model year as it was largely a carryover year. The 1980 Mustangs were almost identical to the 1979s. Sad news came in the form of a new 4.2 liter V8 that replaced the 5.0L V8 that had even less power (WTF????). A carriage roof was a $625 option that gave the car a convertible look when the top was up. 271,322 Mustangs were sold in 1980.

Model: 1980 Ford Mustang
Generation: 3rd Generation Mustang
Type: 2 Door
Body Styles: Coupe, Hatchback
Engines: 2.3L 2V 4 cyl, 2.3L 2V 4 cyl turbo, 3.3L 1V 6 cyl, 4.2L 2V V8
Original Price: $5,338 (Basic Coupe), $5,816 (Basic Hatchback)
Units Produced: 271,322

Additional 1980 Mustang Research: 1980 Research Center / Colors Details / Production Numbers / Prices & Options / Sales Brochures / Owner Manuals / Maintenance / Pictures / Videos / VIN Decoder / Special Editions


Background & Details

Though very few visual changes were made for the 1980 model year for the Mustang, several options were changed that affected this years lineup that made this year a bad year for Mustang.

Not much was done this year as far as major body modifications. Few exterior changes were made to the 1980 Mustang and like always there were tweaks here and there more than anything else. The front grille was restyled slightly and the Ford logo moved to the top of the front facia. Minor changes in the 1980 interior were made, including the addition of high back bucket seats for the base models. The Recaro bucket seat from the previous year’s Pace Car package, were also kept as an option. Electrically, the car came equipped with halogen headlights.

There were a few new options as you can see from the option list, with most options were carried over. The 1980 Cobra package included all of the spoilers and scoops used on the previous year’s pace car, along with a gaudy oversized cobra hood decal. An interesting option for 1980 was a faux-convertible top. What appeared to be a new convertible roof was in fact a decor option called a Carriage Roof, which was available only on the 2 door hardtop models.

Special Vehicle Operations

The most exciting news of the year was the fact that Donald Peterson, President of Ford went ahead and set up Special Vehicle Operations (SVO). SVO plays a major role in establishing Ford’s place in racing and in applying increased performance technology to production models.

Pathetic Engine Options

The 2.8-liter V6 and the 5.0-liter V8 were both deleted from the options list for the 1980 model year.

The new 3.3 liter straight six engine had with paltry 89 horsepower. Rumors were, that it only was added to the Mustang line due to too few 2.8 liter V6 engines available for customer demand. We believe it because there were no redeeming features for this crap powertrain. Some argued that although horsepower was down slightly, additional torque from the bigger engine made up most of the deficit in responsiveness. We never felt that in driving the 1980 Mustang so take it with a grain of salt.

The only V8 was a new version of Ford’s small-block that displaced 255 cubic inches, and only had 119 hp. This was considered to be the worst V8 engine ever offered in a Mustang. The Turbo four became the most powerful engine available in 1980. This engine was only available if ordered with an automatic transmis mission. The reality is that the new V8 was introduced as a stop-gap measure to keep a V8 in the 1980 Mustang lineup that had decent fuel economy.

The turbocharged 2.3 liter inline 4 cylinder engine was definitely the high performance engine this year. With 132 horsepower it was easily the most powerful engine in the range.

Special Edition Models & Variants

1980 Ford Mustang Ghia


The 1980 Ghia luxury group continued to be offered on the coupe and hatchback. The Ghia package included full wrap around black body side molding with argent gray inserts; high back vinyl seats with European styled headrests, turbine wheel covers, and Ghia badges on the decklid.

Learn more about the 1980 Ford Mustang Ghia

1980 Ford Mustang Cobra


The 1980 Cobra package included all of the spoilers and scoops used on the previous year’s pace car, along with a gaudy oversized cobra hood decal. The 1980 Mustang Cobra borrowed heavily from the 79 pace car, with its distinctive grille, hood treatment, lower front air dam and rear lip spoiler on the rear deck lid.

Learn more about the 1980 Ford Mustang Cobra

SVP M81 McLaren Mustang

M81 McLaren Mustang

Probably the most interesting event in the 1980 model year was the development of the M81 McLaren Mustang. Whether it is really a 1980 or 1981 may be up to argument. The fact, is however that the concept that started in the spring of 1980, led to the formation of a special vehicle operations ( SVO ) who was responsible for designing and producing the car, and set up specifically to create limited production performance vehicles to enhance Ford’s performance image through motorsports. The result was a wild looking car with wide IMSA flares at all sides,a factory roll bar,BBS alloy wheels and Recaro seats. The engine was a modified version of the 2.3 liter turbocharged motor. Increased boost and standard hot rod technology,bumped the power up to 175 hp. Although some 250 of these cars were planned, its been said that only 10 were actually produced and with a price tag almost 5 times that of a standard Mustang, which was just over $5,000 at the time.

Learn more about the 1980 SVP M81 McLaren Mustang

Specifications, Options & Detailed Stats

Production Numbers

Sales fell in 1980 with 271,322 Mustangs sold (down from 369,936 in 1979). To dive into the model and body splits as well as see charts and percentages, check out our 1980 Ford Mustang Production & Sales Numbers deep dive.

Options and Pricing

There were a few new options as you can see from the option list, with most options were carried over. For more detailed options and pricing, please check out our 1980 pricing and options research.

Exterior & Interior Colors

For detailed colors, color palettes, codes and interior colors please check out our in depth 1980 colors information post.

Dimensions & Weight

The Mustang was unchanged from a size perspective. It was still the 4.2 inch longer wheelbase than the previous generation and it was both taller and longer overall too

Engine Specs

Disappointment best describes the 1980 Mustang engine situation. The 3.3-liter straight six and the equally crappy small-block V8 were the main two units. I think the 4 cylinder was the most exciting engine and that says a lot. For more information on engines for 1980, you can find the information here.


Below is the performance data for the 1980 Mustangs that we could find. We have included 0-60 mph times, 0-100 mph times as well as quarter mile times and top speed where available. As you can see, the anemic engine options clearly had an impact on the 1980 Mustang acceleration times.

VIN Information

Vin Decoder Mustang 1980

This link will take you to a page which contains the VIN tag information for all years of Mustangs. Previously this information appeared on each Mustang’s year page, but consolidating it has significantly reduced page loading times. To decode the build sheet, check out our 1980 VIN & Data Plate Decoder sheet.

Videos & Picture Galleries

We managed to find some great video reviews of the 1980 Mustang so definitely check those out. We also have a picture 1980 Ford Mustang Picture Gallery and photos of real Mustangs in each color that was available.