We know how the pony cars managed to survive the 1980s: Ford managed to give the Mustang a desperately needed horsepower injection that really came into play in 1982, and over at GM, the third-generation F-body kept making leaps and bounds with engines and performance packages, especially the Camaro IROC-Z. But there is a catch: both of these cars came dangerously close to going front-wheel drive. The Mustang’s story is pretty well-known, but the F-car’s saga isn’t as popular. We found mockups of the potential sport coupes and we want to know which one you would have more interest in…if you were being forced to pick, because of course we’d walk away.
1. ST-20 based Mustang
You probably know the story of the “ST-16” Mustang development: shortly after the Fox body Mustang arrived, a Jimmy Carter speech caused Ford execs to seriously consider a FWD Ford Mustang. Ford threw the whole budget at the car, and by the time running mules were tooling around Detroit, word got out, loyal fans went beserk and pelted Ford with angry letters, and the company instead gave the RWD Mustang a visual refresh and renamed the front-driver Probe. The above clay model is not the ST-16. That is the ST-20 design study…yes, folks, the Mustang almost went front-driver TWICE. Unlike the Probe, the ST-20 study utilized the Ford Escort/Mercury Tracer platform and was supposed to be smaller and more nimble. The last time Ford downsized the Mustang, we got the Mustang II. Luckily, the Fox platform was updated into the SN-95 platform and carried on long enough to get the Mustang away from wrong-wheel drive.
2. GM-80 concepts and mules
Like the Mustang, the GM twins almost made the conversion twice. The first time was towards the late 1970s…since the F-car’s cousin, the X-body (Nova and friends) had made the jump for 1980, there were elements within GM that thought that the F-body should follow. Things went quiet for a bit, then in the mid-1980s, swoopy front-drive prototypes started to float around. The plan, according to insiders, was a three-way attack: A Camaro, a Firebird and an Oldsmobile, which was to either be called the Touring Coupe or Silhouette. The body panels were made of composite plastic and the powertrains were probably early versions of the Quad 4 and the 3.4L V6, but rumor has it that every tester was shipped to Australia and flattened once the nearly $1 billion program was culled before damage could be done.