After the great muscle car mass extinction of the 1970s, fans of these quintessentially American tire mincers were justifiably worried that this particular genus of the motoring kingdom would never again occupy a new car showroom. The fear that the only place to witness these carnivores of the concrete jungle would be in museums, car shows and dragstrips was all too real.
Thankfully, by the mid-1980s, it was starting to become clear that advances in electronic engine management and emission control technology would allow some of the old magic to return (though we very much doubt anyone could have envisioned the 600hp-plus Shelby GT500s and Corvette ZR1s of today). The 1982 Ford Mustang GT with the “High Output” 302 cubic inch V8 is often credited with reigniting the muscle car flame, but a nameplate that debuted that same year is responsible for pouring gasoline on that flame. And it did so using an unlikely engine and wearing an unlikely badge.