The third-generation Mustang was produced by Ford from 1978 to 1993. Built on Ford’s Fox platform, it evolved through a number of sub-models, trim levels, and drivetrain combinations during its production life. It underwent updates for 1987, and for a time seemed destined for replacement with a front wheel drive Mazda platform before company executives were swayed by consumer opinions.
Enthusiasts group the generation into two segments: the 1979-1986 cars, with their quad headlight arrangement, and the 1987-1993 cars, with their aero composite head lamp front bumper styling. Production ended with the introduction of the fourth-generation Mustang (SN-95) for the 1994 model year.
By the mid-1980s, Mustang sales were slumping. Sales were over 100,000 units a year, but were minimal compared to previous numbers. Ford believed that the Mustang had lost its place in the market. They subsequently announced that they would replace the rear-wheel drive Mustang with a Mazda-derived front-wheel-drive version.
Mustang fans quickly responded and sent Ford hundreds of thousands of letters, asking them to save the rear-wheel drive Mustang. Ford responded by continuing production of the rear-wheel drive Mustang, and proceeded to rename the front-wheel-drive version as the Probe (above), which ended up being a replacement for the Escort-based Ford EXP. This was the first real time and only time in automotive history where the public has changed the company, starting a coo.