Posted by wooriegi
I am going to call 1974 based on that thick header panel. Wow, these once seemed so ordinary. I had two good friends with notchbacks, high-trim Ghia version and a low trim standard like this. Both were 4 speeds, something that made these reasonably easy to live with as a daily driver. I once drove one with an auto, and it was excruciatingly slow – even to a guy used to a slant six Scamp.
I ‘think’ the ’74 was the only year to have the chrome trim bisecting the front turn signal lens, as well.
Another good way to tell a ’74 is the location of the fuel-filler; it was mounted low, underneath the quarter panel fender crease. 1975 and later were mounted above the crease.
Yep, it’s a ’74 for all the reasons cited above. In addition to a shorter nose, the eggcrate grille moved forward in ’75 and was almost flush with the opening.
The chrome insert in the bumper is also a feature of the early cars- Ford switched to a rubberized black plastic insert on the later cars. Near as I can tell in ’74 and ’75 cars all came with chrome, and ’76 on was the black insert.
However, lots of older cars have the black insert, since over time the chrome insert gets dinged to death- The inserts on this car are as good as I’ve seen outside the trailer queens.
I think I recall reading that the chrome bumper inserts hadn’t yet been perfected by Ford at that time. That trim on the Capri II’s bumpers was notoriously wavy in a fairly short amount of time. This might have been part of the reason why the trim on the M-II was switched to black rubber by MY ’76.
(I think silver is a great color for the Mustang II notchback.)
If there were not such large overhangs the car would look better. Gosh, what a side profile! The swoopy front end looks like a 1979 Monte Carlo while the back looks like a 1980 Ford Fairmont.
I wonder if that nose was there to offset what seems to be a bigger rear deck in an attempt to maintain the ‘short trunk, long hood’ look which the original Mustang did so well.
From the side, the little wheels and profile look kinda King Midget to me.
With the benefit of hindsight, this is the nicest thing Ford could have made out of the Pinto.
I think the swooping front end might be the worst styling element on the Mustang II, there’s no legacy reason for it and it makes the body look somewhat mangled, like it was dropped from a height. The overhangs and short wheelbase don’t help of course, but that’s more of a proportional fault. There was a lot of nice aspects though, funny enough I always hated the notchback in this generation, but most I have seen have been draped with Landau tops, this one looks pretty good. The two tone paint effect compliments the body nicely, and I normally don’t care for custom paintjobs.
Or maybe I’ve warmed up to these because it’s no longer the ugliest body to wear the Mustang badge anymore.
Another easy way to tell the ’74 from later editions is the grille; on the ’74s like this one, it’s recessed a bit, and a lot more flush on the ’75 and later models.
My aunt had an Aqua metallic/white/white interior ’77 Ghia V-8 (CA version). As smog choked as it was, it could still burn a little rubber, much to my surprise. I always had a bit of a soft spot for that rather weird little car.
I’ve ridden in the back of one of these and the scooped out sections of the seat rear were absolutely essential; good job I’m not tall though (and here tall would be over 5′ 4″). Longer than a Ford Cortina III but on a shorter wheelbase.
That was the “seventies Ford disease”, too much overhang and not enough wheelbase, leading to goofy proportions. I’d hate to manoeuvre that in a confined space. Push the back and front wheels out about three inches and it would look a lot better.
That disease lasted well into the 00s on Mustangs, albeit not quite as bad as on the II. My Cougar for a 200” RWD chassis has a longer front overhang than it has any business to for that matter. It made me a very cautious and nervous parker in any car I have driven since
The much-maligned Mustang II. Ford sold what, 350,000 of them the first year? They looked more like the original Mustang than their predecessors or successors.
Perhaps this is the origin of the full retro-look that took off in the ’90s and ’00s.
Not only Mustangs, but Beetles, PT Cruisers, HHRs, Challengers, etc.
Selling style, it doesn’t matter if it passes the test of time or not!
Not that I found the Monza Towne Coupe especially attractive, but compared to the overstyled Mustang II notchback, it looked cleaner and more modern. Without the added appearance of bloat, which plagued the Ford. Same could be said for the hatchback versions of the Monza and Mustang II. Without knowing their year of introduction, you knew which was the fresher design.
The featured lead profile pic isn’t especially flattering to the Mustang II’s design, as it over emphasizes the length of the hood, the extra visual mass in the forward upper fender area. And of course the extra overhang.
The Sunbird was probably the best of the bunch, and would’ve been my choice.
In the last few years, I think of the Monza as the “Mustang Too.” Such a relief that it didn’t replace the Camaro.
This car is malproportioned and it’s not just the overhangs or the toylike detailing – the tiny 13″ wheels and tires must take some blame. I do like the interior though.
I can’t fault the interior for materials and quality but I always found the dashboard very corporate Ford fare despite being a Mustang that was trying hard to incorporate key elements of the originals with the exterior. The dual hump symmetrical dashboard was as part of the originals as the three vertical bar taillamps
It’s easy to forget just how ugly these were!
If any of the above commenters who said something nice about this car actually owned one and liked it, I apologize in advance. But I had a girlfriend who owned a notchback Ghia, V6 automatic, and it was an abysmal car in just about every way. Driving it was awful, and though less than ten years old, it was already falling apart with saggy seats, cracked dash, fading paint, loose steering, zero shock damping, etc. A Pinto Brougham, as bad as that sounds. Still, as a fan of automotive history, it’s nice to see one in good shape, in New York of all places.
Getting wiser CC by CC, thank you!
Knew about the fuel-filler, but not about the header panel.
Did it mean a shorter nose or a longer hood?
Saw a Mustang II 1974 here in Odense (home of Odense grain vinyl?)
in the most striking golden glow.
Also saw a Ghia with the deepest pile carpeting ever.
i took a quick ahor od the interior, too.
all thumbs today. here it is:
Just moving the front wheels a few inches forward, yields a major improvement to the proportions and overall look. The Mustang II is very close to being a nice looking car. Even with the smallish wheels, the car does not look off balance to the eye with the extended wheel base. This might have not been practical for Ford to execute, but it would have made a world of difference.
Much better. It seems the only excuse for the excessive overhang is to accommodate the longer front fender sidelights – which continued to stretch in length from the late 60’s to mid-70’s, emphasizing new over old model years, and maybe more for style than safety. Dumb.
We did the same thing here back in 2012. Gave it some decent sized wheels too:
It’s either a V-6 or a V-8 has been shoehorned in, judging by the dual exhaust pipes exiting the rear. I’m not even sure it was possible to put a V-8 in these, they had to made the front longer to put in the 302 2v for 1975.
What a great looking survivor, and still as polarizing as ever in the styling department based on the comments above. It looks better than anything affordable you can buy today, folks. It even looks better than the 2020 Mustang to me. I’ve always liked these, they were mini broughams inside and sporty looks outside. Ford would love to sell as many of these now as they did in 1974.
Even when these cars were new, I had a strong dislike for them. I was shocked the Mustang name could be based on a Pinto and sport a four-banger, all of 89 hp or so.
Ford could have done better, as they did with the Fox body cars that came later.
Someone else explained it by comparing the Maverick with the Pinto by saying the Pinto was new and fresh, while the Maverick was old-school Falcon. The same almost certainly applied to the Mustang II. While going back to the Falcon chassis would have been more logical, it would have been too much of the same old, same old, and it’s doubtful that approach would have sold like the Mustang II.
The hp is no worse that the original ’64 base engine: 105 hp gross.
My brother had a fancy white over red Ghia coupe that was only a couple of years old. It was really nice inside, like a little T Bird. The car had the four cylinder, four speed manual power train and it performed okay. Ford had introduced the car with the availability of a V8 engine which many considered to be obsolete at the time. Most buyers opted for the four. I think that they were the right car for the times as the number of sales proved that. People forget that the first Fox bodied Mustangs were also seen as something of a let down styling wise. It took several years before they were accepted as real Mustangs. They remained in production for so long that an entire generation equates that style with the name Mustang.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of new posts by email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Copyright 2011 - 2023 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.
Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.
Type your email…