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Spied: Ford Mustang mule further fuels SVO rumors

Ford is clearly testing a new Mustang variant, but could it be the SVO?

Spies caught Ford engineers testing a Mustang variant at its Dearborn development facility Monday, adding further fuel to the fires sparked by rumors that the turbocharged SVO model just might make a comeback.

A dormant model since its limited run in the 1980s, the SVO was a hotted-up Mustang sporting a turbocharged, 2.3L four-pot. Mustang enthusiasts have been abuzz about the potential for its return ever since the 2015 model was announced with a turbo-four sporting the exact same displacement.

Ford has offered the Mustang's Performance Package as an upgrade on the EcoBoost model since its introduction, but while it does include many of the same go-fast goodies found on the same package available on V8-powered GT models, it doesn't bring with it an increase in horsepower.

This is where a potential SVO model comes in. The warmed-over, 350-horsepower, 2.3L engine from the dearly departed Ford Focus RS would make an excellent candidate for motivating a more aggressive four-cylinder Mustang and wouldn't require an extensive (or expensive) dive into the company's parts bin to become a reality.

But is this mule an SVO? We're far from certain. The grille was lifted from the GT model's California Special--a long-running appearance package offered on both the coupe and convertible. The Shelby-inspired quad exhaust outlets may indicate that this model is equipped with an active system, which would suit a high-performance variant.

The covered-up fender and trunk badges ramp up the mystery, as California Special models are denoted by vinyl graphics on the flanks and normal "GT" badge in the rear (where this model has a round emblem of some sort, a la Bullitt).

April is frequently a big month for Mustang news, so we could learn the story behind this mule (and the veracity of the SVO rumor) soon. Stay tuned.

Photos by Brian Williams.

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