Ford Fox platform

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Ford Fox platform
88Mustang 9917.JPG
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1979–1993 model years
Body and chassis
Class Compact
Personal luxury car
Pony car
Layout FR
Body style(s) two-door convertible
two-door coupe
three-door hatchback
two-door sedan
four-door sedan
five-door station wagon
Vehicles see below
Successor Ford SN-95 platform
Ford D2C platform
Ford MN12 platform
Ford D186 platform
Ford CE14 platform

The Ford Fox platform is a platform used by Ford Motor Company in North America for various compact and mid-size vehicles for the Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln divisions. Using a rear-wheel drive, unibody chassis configuration, the Fox platform was used by Ford from 1978 to 1993; a substantial redesign of the Ford Mustang extended its life another eleven years to the 2004 model year. With the exception of the Panther platform, the Fox platform is the longest-produced vehicle architecture by Ford Motor Company.

Designed to be relatively lightweight and simple, the Fox platform was originally intended as the replacement for derivatives of the original Ford Falcon architecture (dating from 1960); the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr were introduced to replace the Ford Maverick and Mercury Comet, respectively. As downsizing expanded beyond full-size vehicles at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s, the Fox platform came into wider use, included in many redesigns and central to several Ford product line revisions.

During the mid-1980s, Ford reduced its usage of the Fox platform as mid-size sedans and station wagons were transitioned to front-wheel drive. After the 1988 model year, only the Ford Mustang and Lincoln Mark VII coupes remained. The 2005 Ford D2C platform underpinning the fifth-generation Ford Mustang would become the fifth and final vehicle architecture to serve as a Fox-platform replacement (the second under the Mustang nameplate).

Chassis overview[edit]

The Fox platform, like most compact and mid-size cars of the late 1970s, was designed with a rear-wheel drive layout. In contrast to the full-size Fords and Mercurys of the time, the Fox platform used unibody construction.

For the first time in a rear-wheel drive Ford, the Fox platform used MacPherson strut front suspension, continuing the use of a live rear axle suspension configuration. Initially configured with rear drum brakes, 4-wheel disc brakes were added to higher-performance vehicles, including the Continental Mark VII, Ford Mustang SVO, 1994-2004 Ford Mustang, and the Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe/Mercury Cougar XR7.

Due to the use of strut front suspension, the Fox platform was designed with a wider engine bay than its Falcon-chassis predecessor. As a result, the chassis was flexible in its use of longitudinal engines, accommodating a wide variety of powertrains, including four-cylinder (naturally-aspirated and turbocharged), inline-6, V6, and V8 engines,[1] ranging from a 2.3L inline-4 to a 5.8L V8 (the most powerful Fox-platform car is the 2003-2004 Mustang SVT Cobra with a 390 hp supercharged 4.6L V8). To further improve the fuel economy of Lincoln Fox-platform vehicles in the 1980s, the platform was adapted for the use of BMW diesel inline-6 engines.[2]

The Fox platform was produced in four separate wheelbases, 100.5 inches (for the Ford Mustang/Mercury Capri; lengthened to 101.3 for the SN95 redesign), 104.2 inches (1983-1988 Thunderbird/Cougar), 105.5 inches ("standard"; sedans/wagons), and 108.5 inches ("long"; 1980 Thunderbird/Cougar XR7/ Continental Mark VII/ Lincoln Mark VII/ Lincoln Continental)

Design history[edit]

1983 model year changes[edit]

During the early 1980s, the Fox platform would be involved in major changes to many Ford nameplates. In the marketplace, redesigns of the Ford Granada, Ford Thunderbird, and Mercury Cougar had been poorly received by consumers, leading to a collapse in sales for all three nameplates from 1980 to 1982. In addition, fuel prices had stabilized to the point where consumers had shifted back to full-size cars, leading the company to postpone its planned discontinuation of the full-size Panther-platform vehicles. To rectify the sales collapse and capitalize on the move to full-size vehicles, Ford began a major model shift of many of its best-selling vehicle nameplates in all three divisions.

For 1981, Lincoln saw the first changes, as the Lincoln Continental was rechristened the Lincoln Town Car; the Lincoln Continental nameplate went on hiatus until 1982, reappearing on a mid-size sedan (again giving Lincoln a Cadillac Seville competitor). To eliminate further duplication, the Continental Mark VI lived out its model cycle and was replaced by the far more contemporary Mark VII for 1984.

For 1983, the Ford and Mercury product ranges saw a number of extensive changes. To move its full-size nameplates upmarket, the Ford LTD Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis became the sole full-size sedans, while the LTD and Marquis nameplates were moved to the mid-size Fox platform as restyled versions of the Granada and Cougar sedan and wagon to replace those slow selling models. To reverse the sales collapse of the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar (now solely a coupe), Ford redesigned the two coupes with radical new aerodynamic bodystyling.

The revision effectively tripled the size of the Lincoln model range while eliminating the duplication of several Ford/Mercury vehicles (the Ford Fairmont/Granada and Mercury Zephyr/Cougar sedan and wagon); the mid-size Fairmont/Zephyr were replaced by the compact Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz for 1984 and the Cougar reverted to its coupe-only bodystyle.


By the early 1990s, the Ford Mustang had become the sole model produced on the Fox platform. For the 1994 model year, as the Mustang underwent a major redesign (under the body family program code name Fox-4), the Fox platform itself saw major changes to its architecture. As part of the upgrade, most of its parts were redesigned carrying over only the floor pan and front suspension crossmember with major changes to the suspension and improvements to noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH); the updated Mustang-specific platform became known as the SN-95 platform.

The 2003-2004 Mustang SVT Cobra became the penultimate development of the Fox/SN95 platform, with a 390 hp supercharged 4.6L DOHC V8. The SN95 platform would be produced for 11 years, extending the life of the Fox platform to 26 years of production.[3] For 2005, the Mustang was completely redesigned, using the all-new Ford D2C platform.


As the company entered the 1980s, Ford became part of a growing trend among automobile manufacturers using front-wheel drive in its vehicles. As part of the 1983 changes to the Ford product range, the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr were phased out in favor of the front-wheel drive Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz, introduced as 1984 models. Based on a long-wheelbase version of the Ford Escort, the Tempo/Topaz were produced as downsized compacts to compete against the Chevrolet Cavalier and imported sedans such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord (of the time).

Introduced as 1983 models, the Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis were replaced by the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable in 1986. As the Lincoln Continental shifted to front-wheel drive after the 1987 model year, sedan production of the Fox platform ended.

For 1989, Ford moved the Thunderbird and the Mercury Cougar to the all-new MN12 platform; while still rear-wheel drive, the new chassis introduced a number of suspension advances over the Fox platform. As the Lincoln Mark VII was replaced by the Mark VIII for 1993, the Ford Mustang became the sole Fox-platform produced by Ford.


In total, a total of fifteen distinct vehicles were produced on the Ford Fox platform, with the Ford Fairmont, Mercury Zephyr, Ford Durango, Ford Mustang SVO, and Continental/Lincoln Mark VII produced exclusively on the architecture. The platform would be produced in a variety of body styles, including two-door and four-door sedans, two-door coupes, three-door hatchbacks, five-door station wagons, two-door convertibles (marking the return of the bodystyle to Ford), and a two-door coupe utility (the last coupe utility produced by Ford in North America).

Vehicle name Image Production Predecessor Successor Wheelbase Notes
Fox-platform vehicles (compact)
Ford Fairmont

Ford Fairmont sedan 1.jpg

1978–1983 Ford Maverick Ford Tempo 105.5 in (2,679.7 mm)
Mercury Zephyr

Mercury Zephyr Z7.jpg

1978–1983 Mercury Comet Mercury Topaz
Ford Durango Ford Durango Side.jpg 1981–1982 Ford Ranchero
  • The Durango was a limited-production factory-commissioned conversion of the Ford Fairmont Futura two-door by National Coach Corporation.
  • Approximately 200 were produced.
Fox-platform vehicles (mid-size)
Ford Granada 1982 Ford Granada wagon 1981–1982 Ford Granada (1975–80) Ford LTD 105.5 in (2,679.7 mm)
  • The Granada was updated and took on the LTD name for 1983.
  • The 1982 Granada was the first American Ford to wear the revived "blue oval" badge.
Ford LTD 1984 Ford LTD four-door 1983–1986 Ford Granada Ford Taurus The LTD was an updated version of the 1981–1982 Ford Granada.
Mercury Cougar
(fifth generation; sedan/station wagon)
1982 Mercury Cougar GS wagon.jpg 1981-1982 Mercury Monarch Mercury Marquis Cougar sedan and wagon models were discontinued after the 1982 model year.
Mercury Marquis 1983 Mercury Marquis 1983[4][5]–1986 Mercury Cougar Mercury Sable
Lincoln Continental
(seventh generation)
1984-1987 Lincoln Continental -- 09-03-2010.jpg 1982–1987 Lincoln Versailles Lincoln Continental (D186) 108.5 in (2,755.9 mm)
Fox-platform vehicles (Pony car)
Ford Mustang 1979 Ford Mustang Official Pace Car.jpg 1979–1993 Ford Mustang II Ford Mustang (SN-95) 100.5 in (2,552.7 mm)
Ford Mustang SVO
Mustang SVO 1986.JPG
1984-1986 none Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (1993) Ford Mustang with 2.3L turbocharged engine and suspension, brake, and bodywork modifications.
Ford Mustang (SN-95) 1999-04 Ford Mustang coupe.jpg 1994–2004 Ford Mustang Ford Mustang (S197) 101.3 in (2,573.0 mm)
Mercury Capri MercuryCapriRS.jpg 1979–1986 Capri II 100.5 in (2,552.7 mm) Mercury version of Ford Mustang; different rear bodywork from 1983-1986
Fox-platform vehicles (personal luxury car)
Ford Thunderbird

(eighth generation)

1982 Ford Thunderbird Town Landau fL.jpg
1980-1982 Ford Thunderbird (seventh generation) 108.5 in (2,755.9 mm) First Thunderbird produced with 6-cylinder engine as standard.
Ford Thunderbird
(ninth generation)
Ford Thunderbird 1983-1987 Aero Bird-1.jpg 1983–1988 Ford Thunderbird (tenth generation / MN-12) 104.2 in (2,646.7 mm) Turbo Coupe is first four-cylinder Thunderbird.
Mercury Cougar XR7

(fifth generation)

1980-1982 Mercury Cougar (1977-1979) 108.5 in (2,755.9 mm) Separate wheelbase and bodyshell from Cougar sedan/station wagon; same powertrains as Ford Thunderbird.
Mercury Cougar
(sixth generation)
5th Mercury Cougar.jpg 1983–1988 Mercury Cougar (seventh generation / MN-12) 104.2 in (2,646.7 mm) Return to single model line; Cougar XR7 is sold as Mercury version of Thunderbird Turbo Coupe from 1983-1986, replaced with V8 engine in 1987.
Continental Mark VII / Lincoln Mark VII Lincoln-Continental-Mark-VII.jpg 1984–1992 Continental Mark VI Lincoln Mark VIII 108.5 in (2,755.9 mm) The Mark VII was the first American-market car sold with composite headlamps and anti-lock brakes.


  1. ^ Lamas, Jonathan. "Third Generation Mustang (1979-1993)". Retrieved 14 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Sass, Rob (2013-02-01). "Few Thrills With a Diesel Continental". New York Times. Retrieved 14 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Lamas, Jonathan. "Fourth Generation Mustang (1994-2004)". Retrieved 14 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Mercury Cougar
  5. ^ Mercury Cougar