There certainly have been more powerful Mustangs.
There have been better looking ones, too.
But you can’t underplay the role of the 1987 Mustang 5.0L in getting Ford’s legendary pony car back on track as a desirable performance vehicle. After a lackluster period from the Mustang II era of the mid-1970s to early Fox-bodies of the 1980s, the 1987 Mustang 5.0L set the stage for an entire Mustang revival.
And for that, the 1987 Mustang 5.0L lands at #5 on our list.
Of course, the Fox-body platform had been around for years before the 1987 5.0L hit the streets. Following the Mustang II’s run from 1974-78, the Fox-body was first offered for the 1979 model year and received minor tweaks in the years leading up to 1987. By the mid-1980s sales were slumping badly and Ford execs seriously toyed with the idea of converting the Mustang into a front-wheel drive vehicle.
Enter the 1987 Mustang 5.0L.
Featuring a 4.9L 302-cubic-inch engine (but wisely marketed as the 5.0L), the 1987 Mustang 5.0L featured new cylinder heads and induction, which allowed the engine to breathe better and produce an additional 25 horsepower. Aero-friendly exterior tweaks and a more tuned suspension helped propel the Mustang from zero to 60 miles-per-hour in a quick 6.1 seconds. The Mustang once again delivered great bang-for-your-buck performance to the consumer.
Just like its forefathers intended.
Even more impressive, the 1987 5.0L launched an entire movement.
The increased performance of the new 5.0L EFI inspired the automotive aftermarket to develop an avalanche of new performance parts for the Fox-body. The attainable and reasonably priced 5.0L Fox-body became a popular choice for a whole new generation of American performance fanatics looking for affordable hop-up candidates.
The 5.0L movement was born.
Soon, 5.0L race classes, 5.0L-dedicated forums—even new magazines were popping up. Summit Racing even had a 5.0L Mustang-only section in its catalog for a time! Thanks in part to publications like Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, 5.0L Mustang, and other respected print and online publications, passion for 5.0L, 4.6L, and late-model Mustangs remains strong.
And the revival started with the 1987 Mustang 5.0L—the #5 Mustang on our list.