2nd GENERATION – 1974-1978
by Jeff Burgy
The second generation was known as the Mustang II. It was a total departure from the previous models – new platform, shorter wheelbase, and different body styles. You had a coupe and a hatchback fastback. There was no longer a convertible in the line-up.
We were in the midst of an oil crisis, and a gasoline shortage, so no V8 engine was offered. In 1974, the Mustang II had a 4-cylinder or a V6, and that was it. It was voted “Motor Trend Car of the Year.”
Shortly after that, there was a crash program to increase the size of the engine compartment enough to accommodate the V8 engine. They had to modify the front fascia and the hood so they could stuff in that V8.
They introduced a couple of models to increase sales. There was a Ghia model which was a luxury version that included a half-vinyl roof, and a moon roof, and all sorts of options. But the wheels were only 13 inches and that hurt performance because when you punched it, you just spun the wheels.
In 1976, in order to spark interest in the car, they introduced the Cobra model and the Stallion model. The Stallion model had decals of prancing horses on the sides, and a blacked-out grill and trim. The Cobra model was known as the Cobra II. It was basically a stripe package – it had the same 302 engine that you got in the base car. It wasn’t souped up, there was no dual exhaust option, there was no 4-barrel carburetor, it was just a 302 2-barrel. But people liked the graphics, and it LOOKED fast.
Then, in 1978 – the last year for that model, they came out with the King Cobra, which had even more graphics on it including a giant Cobra decal across the hood. And they offered a T-roof option, also additional slats, spoilers and spats. It looked sporty.
The Mustang II has been maligned for many years. A lot of collectors don’t care for it, but then there are a lot of collectors who think it’s a super car. And for someone who wanted an economical car for their family, it was certainly the right car at the right time. When it was first introduced in 1974, it sold three times better than the 1973 Mustang.
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