Story and photos by Brian Earnest
It’s not particularly easy to make a stock, unrestored 1980s car stand out in a crowd. Especially when your car was wildly popular and a lot of them were made.
Jack Deutscher has found his collecting niche with 1984 Ford Mustangs — he owns four of them and says he’s on the lookout for even more — but he’ll probably never have another one as unique his Mustang GT convertible. Sure, there were 32,914 Mustang GTs built for 1984, including 6,256 ragtops, and a lot of them are still around. But as far as Duetscher can tell, only about 40 of them were painted tan — Light Desert Tan, to be exact — and if there are any other tan convertibles out there, Deutscher has yet to find them.
“I’ve seen a couple in pictures, but I’ve never seen one in person,” said Deutscher, a resident of Janesville, Wis., “I go to a lot of national Mustang shows, and I haven’t seen another tan car, other than the one in my garage at home.”
That “other” car would be the tan hatchback Mustang GT that Deutscher bought back in 1993. He also has a pair of the hi-po Mustang SVOs from 1984, but it’s clear he has a soft spot for his tan ’84 droptop. Even when he missed his chance to buy the car five years ago, he remained persistent and finally nabbed the convertible that made him perhaps the only Mustang buff in the country with bookend tan 1984 pony cars.
“I have a hatchback that’s the same color, and I happened to see this one on eBay,” he said, “and somebody actually bought it before I could get it. The car was originally out of California. A guy in Colorado put it on eBay. A guy in New York bought it, and I freaked out. I told the original owner I really wanted the car, and he’s like, ‘OK, I’ll give you all the information for the guy in New York.’ About four months later, the guy in New York gives me a call. ‘Do you still want the car?’ ‘Yeah, I still want it, how much do you want for it?’ I paid what he asked for it and had it shipped.
“I wanted this car. I wanted one this color, I know they didn’t make many, and this one had so few miles on it and was in perfect stock condition.”
Unlike his first tan Mustang, the convertible has remained mostly untouched. At some point in its life, the car had its black convertible top replaced, but otherwise, it was a 64,000-mile original car.
“I stumbled on it because of the other car I have,” Duetscher said. “The hatchback that matches it, I’ve had for about 18 years. When I bought that one, it was white. It’s also an ’84, and when I opened up the hood, it was tan underneath. When I restored that car, I [returned] it back to tan, and when I saw this one I had to have it because it matched!
“I think they’re cool, and if I could ever find a tan turbo one, I’d buy that, too.”
There are plenty of 1984 Mustang GTs around wearing colors like Black, Oxford White, Bright Red, Light Cadet Blue and Bright Copper, but Duetscher has found the tan color to be a never-ending topic of conversation. When strangers approach him at car hobby events, he knows where the conversation will begin.
“Yeah, I get a lot of comments about the color. I get everything from, ‘I can’t stand it,’ to ‘That’s really cool.’” he said. “I love the car, so I don’t really get too excited about [criticism]. But I do get a lot of comments.”
Duetscher certainly isn’t alone in his affection for his Fox-body Mustangs. The body style debuted in 1979 and was still going strong in 1984, when the Ford pony car celebrated its 20th birthday. As it had 20 years earlier, the Mustang appealed to a wide range of buyers, and it had a lot to offer at a variety of price points.
For buyers who were on a tight budget, the LX tier offered four-cylinder coupes and hatchbacks that could be had for less than $8,000. The GT package brought a standard 175-hp 302-cid (5.0-liter) V-8, or a fuel-injected version that delivered 165 hp. The go-fast crowd could really get cooking with the freshly introduced SVO, which featured better handling and stopping capabilities and the turbo-charged inline four-cylinder that was also rated at 175 hp. At well over $15,000, the price tag on the SVOs was tough to swallow even for die-hard Mustang lovers, and only 4,508 were built.
To commemorate 20 years, Ford also offered a GT-350 Mustang that was basically a spiffed-up version of the GT convertible and hatcback. It was outfitted in Oxford White paint with red pinstriping, matching red interior and GT-350 markings.
A total of 141,480 Mustangs rolled out of Ford’s doors for the model year. The GL and GLX models were replaced by the single LX series. Aside from a few cosmetic changes, like new instrument panel appliques and different steering wheel centers, the cars didn’t change much from the previous model year. Up front was the same quad-headlight arrangement that would last through 1986 and a smallish, simple grille. The GT series offered a new front air dam, gas-filled shock absorbers and an upgraded suspension system. Hoods were black and matched the black wrap-around dual trim strips at the car’s waist. GT emblems and badging were found on the front of the hood and behind the front wheels. Integrated fog lamps were added early in the model year production run.
All things considered, it was simply hard to beat a Mustang GT ragtop in 1984. With a Borg-Warner five-speed manual and the base 175-hp V-8, the cars retailed for just over $13,000, had plenty of giddy-up, offered a ton of options and could be ordered pretty much any way you wanted them — including in the peculiar tan.
Peculiar for a borderline muscle car, anyway.
“I don’t know what it is about ’84s, but I love them. I’ve got four of them!” laughed Deutscher. “To me, everybody’s got a Fox Mustang, but not a lot of people get the four-eyed ones. So I think that they’re unusual.”
Deutscher was fortunate to find a car that appeared to have been babied long before he got it. It’s doubtful the car has ever seen any snow or road salt, and the car came with a pile of paperwork to prove how well it had been cared for.
“The previous owner was so particular about the car that he apparently had the hood repainted before he would accept it from the dealer,” Deutscher said. “When he bought the car, he wasn’t happy with the black hood. It was supposed to be a flat black. He got the dealer to repaint the hood, and I got all the documentation to prove all that.
“The guy I bought it from was an engineer, and just meticulous about the car. He had logbooks, and everything he ever did to the car he wrote down. And I got all that stuff when I got the car, so I know everything that was ever done to the car. It’s neat.
“I have done nothing to the car since I got it. Now I have a hole in the muffler, so I have to put a muffler on it. Otherwise, it’s [stock].”
With his prized convertible now registering 66,000 miles, Deutscher is wrestling with how much he wants to drive the car. Fortunately, he has three other ’84 Mustangs that can share some of the road time. “At 66,000, I think I’ve already crossed that line for low mileage, but maybe not,” he said. “I guess I don’t want to spin ’er over 100 (thousand), and even 70 (thousand) I might wince at. I’m going to try to keep it as original as possible. Restored cars are cool, but they are only original once, and I’d just like to keep it as original as I can, but at the same time, I’d like to drive it because they’re enjoyable to drive. We’ll see how that all works out for me, but I don’t drive it a lot.
“But it drives real nice. It doesn’t have as much power as some of the new ones, but it’s still got good torque. The brakes are terrible! The suspension is pretty good. It’s got a little bit of a bounce to it. It doesn’t handle as well as a newer car, but this car happens to be pretty tight.
“That’s what they were in ’84. It’s a little bouncy, but it goes well. It’s got a long throw in the shifter and the brakes are kind of squishy, but other than that … It’s just a fun car. I enjoy spending time with my family in them. I think they’re really enjoyable cars.”
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Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975
This revised 4th Edition is the most thorough post-WWII automobile reference ever assembled. This huge reference book includes complete model information for every American-made car manufactured from 1946-1975.