With the debut of the seventh-generation Ford Mustang almost upon us (think: September 14 at the Detroit Auto Show), the pony nostalgia is running high these days. So it shouldn’t surprise you to see that one of the Internet’s most active rendering artists has digitally revived the Fox Body Mustang for 2023. Come to think of it, the original third-gen ‘Stang and the upcoming 2024 model have a somewhat similar mission.
During the previous decade, the Blue Oval has moved its GT supercar and F-150 Raptor super-truck away from the good old V8 architecture, gifting these with EcoBoost twin-turbo V6s in pursuit of superior efficiency. However, with the muscle car segment being the most traditional one of them all, the Mustang got to keep its vee-eight, albeit while welcoming the Mach-E electric crossover into the range back in 2020.
The 2024 Mustang? This is born in an era when Dodge is introducing an electric Charger (rumors dare not talk about a V8 alternative, but a turbocharged straight-six Hurricane) and Chevy seems prepared to give up on the Camaro altogether. Fortunately, though, as prototype sightings have confirmed, the pony gets to keep its V8.
However, the latest water cooler chat dismisses the previous Gen 7 Mustang hybridization rumors in favor of an all-electric ‘Stang that would arrive towards the end of the decade.
What the Fox Body and the upcoming 2024 Mustang have in common
As for the similarities mentioned in the intro, the Fox Body’s 1979 arrival landed in the middle of the gas crises-fueled era. As such, the Blue Oval had to come up with a way to mix the stringent fuel efficiency requirements of the time with a design that would steer clear of its predecessor’s (Mustang II) compromising nature and become a proper enthusiast pleaser.
Despite the more compact Fox platform that improved both performance and gas mileage, the pony wasn’t exactly an instant hit. In fact, in the mid-1980s, the carmaker seemed determined to retire the Mustang and replace it with a Mazda-based FWD offering. Fortunately, the strong reaction of muscle car fans convinced the company to keep the pony alive, while the FWD idea materialized as the less-than-noteworthy Ford Probe.
Nevertheless, the original Fox Boxy, built between 1979 and 1986, received serious revisions for what would become the golden age of that generation, namely the cars built between 1987 and 1993. These feature a more streamlined front end with a rather modern look, while the last few years finally brought more encouraging V8 outputs for proper performance—Ford used the Mustang SSP police car to usher in some of the best go-fast bits of the day.
Modernizing a Fox Body Mustang is no easy task
Digital artist Marouane Bembli (aka The Sketch Monkey) faced a proper challenge in his quest to bring the boxy boy that is the Fox Body Mustang up to contemporary styling standards.
However, he found a solution by virtually taking advantage of the generous Ford (and Lincoln) parts bin. As such, the front apron borrows heavily from that of the original 2014 (2015MY) S550 Mustang, which was more retro-flavored than the subsequent facelifts.
And filling up that generous headlight area meant making a pact with the devil—we’re obviously referring to an SUV, which in this case was the Lincoln Navigator (hey, at least the pixel master kept things in the Ford family).
The retro Mustang DNA came in handy when the artist sculpted the flat side area of the 80s machine. And no modernization job would be complete without the rolling trends of the day: massive wheels and a lowered stance. After all, with the artist clearly mentioning V8 firepower in the video below, something has to put all those horses to the road…
For a long while after its retirement, the Fox Body Mustang was mostly ignored, being confined to the world of tiny-budget builds. However, this rendering is only the latest manifestation of a trend that has seen many builders, some of which come from the drag racing realm, showing some serious love to the third-gen ‘Stang over the past few years.