Mustang II: This Time, It’s Personal

You may have heard of Ford’s unfortunate pony car: the second-generation Ford Mustang. It is widely regarded as the most hated pony car in the model’s long and accomplished history. However, what is a Mustang II? Also, is it really as bad as famously deplorable cars like the Ford Pinto

What is a Mustang II?

The “II” in Ford Mustang II denotes the second generation of the marque’s famous pony car. Noteworthy for its size and shape differences from the preceding land yachts, the little Mustang arrived on the heels of the 1973 oil crisis. Fortunately, unlike many cars that didn’t survive the automotive extinction-level event of the oil crisis, the Mustang made it. However, to die-hard Mustang fanatics and general muscle car enthusiasts alike, the seventies pony car is the butt of many jokes. 

The second-generation Mustang, the Ford Mustang II is a generally disliked iteration.
Ford Mustang II | Getty Images

Part of the reason behind the sad reputation of the Mustang II is the generally anemic horsepower it produced. The 2.3L four-cylinder powerplant (you read that right) flew in under the radar in exchange for a more plush interior. Furthermore, Ford developed the Mustang II on the diminutive Pinto platform rather than a more midsized layout like the Ford Maverick. The move seemed to be a little bit of an overcorrect following the pseudo-limousine scale of the 1973 Mustang. 

When did the second-generation pony car come out?

After scrapping plans to release a Maverick-based Mustang II, Ford released the second generation car for the 1974 model year. The timing was excellent, as the decision to shrink the beloved pony car complimented the energy crisis that arguably killed the great American V8. According to MotorTrend, Lee Iacocca, the father of the Mustang, was acutely aware of the fortuitous timing. “Sometimes I think we’re luckier than we are smart,” Iacocca said. 

The Mustang II does have some redeeming features, including affordablity.
Mustang II badge | Jakub Porzycki, NurPhoto via Getty Images

Despite the contemporary anger directed at the second-generation car, it sold well at first and likely contributed to the continuity of the Ford Mustang. Ford even offered it with a 302 cubic inch V8 for the 1975 model year. Further, Hagerty says that the V8-powered 1977 and 1978 cars produced 139 horsepower, making them a match for the Chevrolet Monza of the day. 

How much is a Mustang II?

Fortunately for you car builders out there, you can get a solid 1974-1978 Mustang II without breaking the bank. According to Hagerty, you can snag a 1978 model with the 139-horsepower 302 engine for around $10,000 in good condition. Still, you’ll have to spend twice as much to snag the Cobra II. 

Are second-gen Ford Mustangs useless?

While many enthusiasts and internet trolls turn to namecalling (like saying the Mustang II is a Pinto wearing a different dress), the little pony has some redeeming qualities. First, the second-generation car pushed the Mustang across an era marred by the oil crisis. Next, with examples selling for pretty reasonable prices, the little pony car is an intriguing hot rod prospect. For instance, you could black it out, add a higher performance 302 engine, and add a lower, stiffer suspension to transform it. 

Also, the Mustang II provides weight-saving components for cars like the Chevrolet Corvair. Sometimes Corvair owners swap front suspensions from the Ford organ donor into the radical Chevy to improve handling. Further, we wouldn’t have the Fox Body or newer Mustangs we love today without the second-generation car. Scroll down to the following article to read more about Ford Mustangs! 


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