Here’s one I probably would have chased down, if I was on the other side of the divided Franklin Blvd and didn’t know it was sporting a V8. I did a notorious CC on the Mustang II Cobra, even calling it a Deadly Sin, before I decided only those companies that actually died deserved that honor. A venial sin, perhaps? I have shots of a couple of other IIs, but not a Ghia, with the V8, no less.
And in such fine shape too. I’m not sure of its exact year, but if it’s a ’75, its 302 (4.9 L) V8 was rated at a mighty 122 (net) hp. On second thought, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t even try to chase it. The ’76 upped that to 134, and the ’77 and ’78s had a stonking 139 hp. Now if only they hadn’t put such big wheels on it; totally upsets its otherwise splendid lines and balance.
The years haven’t soften my opinion of these, I still find them ugly.
I guess you can say it was right for its time and all, but…
For a time, Mustang parts retailers tried to make these cars collectible by offering parts for them, but they obviously never caught on. GM was pretty successful with their more conventional pony cars in the 70s; I wonder what a real Mustang would have been like if Ford had decided to pursue that avenue. Given their bumpers in the 70s, I’m guessing it would have hardly been good.
I once dated a girl who had two cars – a blue and white 76 AMC Pacer with the Navajo cloth interior, and one of these, right down to the V8.
The only way I would take one of these is if the alternative was a Mustang II with that rough 2.3 four banger bolted up to its Cruise-O-Matic. There is no winner here, but you can lose less unpleasantly.
This must be one of the three left whose front end hasn’t been hijacked for other more lurid purposes.
Perhaps due to being under the weather, but I’ve always kinda sorta in a mild way thought about liking these. Screw it – I do like them in this guise. However, we all tend to like things that remind us of our childhood.
My godfather had one of these; it replaced an MG. When he went to work for the Air Force as a civilian teacher, he was assigned to the base near Brindisi, Italy, and he shipped the Mustang with him. He said it was a monster on the streets over there. It never came back to the U.S., so it may still be around there somewhere. I remember the car and it smelled like Kool cigarettes on the inside.
This one that Paul shot is pretty much the Kool color scheme, no?
Ciao Jason, it’s Dante from South Italy…quite funny, i’m sure the car was black.. there is one for sale so i’m going to look at it, could even happen is Your godfather one… anyway the interior is blue…
check it on here:
Whoever pinstriped this thing must have been dippin’ into the ‘shrooms.
That Mustang II is either a 1977 or 1978. The black bumper strips give it away. From 1974-76 they had steel inserts. My first car was a 1977 base model coupe with the 4-cylinder engine, my sister’s hand-me-down. I loved that car! I guess I am one of the few that actually likes the body style of these Mustang II’s. I would have loved a V-8, hatchback, or Cobra II, with some options even….but my strippo Mustang II made me happy as can be for the first two years that I drove. It had no power steering, base hubcaps (that I upgraded to factory wire hubcaps which made a huge difference on that car) and a full vinyl roof. It was in mint condition when I sold it for a 1980 Honda Prelude. The kid that bought it destroyed it in 6 months. I saw it parked at the local mall and couldn’t believe my eyes. Sure, the Mustang II’s had their faults, like a constant drone on the highway over 50 mph and atrocious gas mileage for a 4-cylinder, but for an inexpensive car built in the 70’s they weren’t half bad.
“That Mustang II is either a 1977 or 1978. The black bumper strips give it away.”
The 1974 Mustang II has a unique fuel filler location (it’s mounted lower on the
quarter panel) and deeper scallops between the headlights and the grille.
From ’75 to ’78, the only universal change occurred when the bumper trim switched from Stainless Steel to black rubber (which may have ben a mid-year change in 1976).
There are certain trim levels that are unique to a given year (For instance, 1978 saw the King Cobra and a unique graphic pakcage for the Cobra II), but without those cues, it’s near impossible to nail a car down to a specific model year.
The 1974’s had the older straight steering wheel design and no V-8 engine available. In 1975 Ford went to the new bent spokes steering wheel design. They also revised the front header panel and grille to accept the V-8 engine. Also, Ghias got the new opera windows. The biggest difference between 1977 and 78 models were the available colors and interior fabrics. Other than that they are very hard to tell apart.
I checked my color charts and the color is Dark Jade, offered only in 1978 on the Mustang II. It was a color widely used by Ford/Lincoln on many other models as well. The 1977 Mustang II color chart shows Dark Emerald offered only in 1977 and only on the Mustang II. After looking at the colors closely this one is surely Dark Jade, so it narrows this one down to being a 1978.
It looks like a Perana version of the Nissan Mustango. Ewhhh.
I thought the introduction of the ’75 Chev Monza hatchback immediately dated the styling on the Mustang II hatchbacks. They looked lumpy and pudgy compared to the Monza. Same for the Monza Towne coupe. It looked fresh and crisp, compared to this bloated Mustang hardtop. Let alone it’s Pinto roots, Ford had such a brutal rust reputation then… I had little attraction to these at the time.
The public were definitely lured with a third rate car here, that sold well, with the allure of the Mustang name.
Not even placement in Charlie’s Angels, could make me like these.
Look how flabby this guy looks below.
I remember so many of the early ones came in this ugly mustard yellow and off white interior.
If I’m not mistaken, that is Medium Yellow Gold, the same color as my 72 Maverick LDO. At least the LDO’s paint was offset by a rich looking brown vinyl top and side trim.
Ack! What’s wrong with me??? I really dig that color…
My neighbour across the street had one of these when I was a kid in the early 80’s. It was that same mustard yellow. Even then, it wasn’t too well regarded. It was his stress reliever car. He’d get into an argument or something and just take a baseball bat to it. It happened a lot, honestly. This went on for a couple of years until they moved away. I assume the car was junked at that point.
While I agree the Monza made a better looking car, it turned out to be a terrible design. I might find a V-6 model with a five-speed livable, but we’ve all heard the horror stories related to V-8 engine service issues.
An even greater flaw involved the body structure. V-8 Monzas were famous for cracks in the frame around the engine and transmission mounts, which often led to the car being scrapped.
Fully agreed Dave. I didn’t mention engineering in my post. I know about the Monza’s well documented issues, including having the Vega engine. Though much improved by ’75/76.
Years ago helping my sister shop for a used car, we test drove a Mustang II of this vintage. Guessing it was a 75
A very well kept Mustang that was immaculate, had low miles and was owned by an older gentleman. I thought we had found a great car ,until we took it for a test drive.
With its automatic transmission, and some sort of small 4 cylinder engine, the car could
barely get out of its own way. Almost to the point of being dangerous to drive. No thanks .
You can make fun of the IIs all you want, but they did sell more than a million of the things over 4 years. GM didn’t come close to that with Camaro/Firebird. So I would say there is little disputing that they were the right car for the time and a good move by Ford.
But it’s so much easier to make fun of these than to acknowledge that they actually weren’t that bad compared to all the other crap being manufactured at the time.
I think it was largely because it was introduced coinciding with the 1973 Oil Crisis. Combined with the fact it was a downsized Mustang. A fresh Mustang, in a reasonably sized package, was going to sell like hot cakes.
All small cars had a resurgence in sales, immediately after the Crisis.
I had no preference to Ford or GM. But I thought the ’75 Monza, was immediately a more desirable car, at the time.
In Canada, there was a big taboo at the time, with Ford and rust issues.
My recollection is that the Mustang II didn’t do terribly well in its first weeks on sale; it bowed something like two months before the OPEC embargo. When the embargo hit, the Mustang II suddenly started making sense to people and sales picked up markedly. It’s interesting to speculate how it would have done if the OPEC embargo hadn’t happened or had happened a year later. (The embargo was nominally a response to Western support of Israel in the October War, but the OPEC states had been looking for a pretense and if it hadn’t been that, it probably would have been something else.)
Still, Ford gets full marks for recognizing that even before the oil embargo, the Mustang had strayed too far from its roots and become too bloated. Basing the Mustang II on the Pinto floorpan wasn’t too sexy, but I’m not sure a Maverick-based car (the only other affordable alternative I can see) would have been a great improvement.
The main misgiving I have about these cars conceptually is not that they were a disgraceful idea, but that the Capri (even the U.S.-spec Capri II) did the same thing better. The Mustang II was so much heavier than the Capri that even the V-8 cars weren’t any faster than a V-6 Capri and they didn’t handle as well. The only area where the Mustang really had a clear edge, except in aftermarket engine stuff, was as a sort of junior Thunderbird personal luxury car; even the Capri Ghia wasn’t as plush as the Mustang II Ghia.
Admittedly, I am fond of the Capri in general; it was much more my kind of car.
First became aware of the Capri in the early 1970’s, when I worked as a stevedore on the Baltimore docks during summers in college. Got to drive dozens of them around the Dundalk Marine Terminal after they came off the ship, loading them onto tri-level railroad cars. Although an American muscle car fan at the time, I was very impressed with the Capri, especially the V-6 model. Light, quick, nice handling and excellent fit and finish.
Ford had to do something with the old bloated Mustang when the energy crisis hit, and I give them kudos for trying, but the II was a miss. Base models were tinny boxes and the Ghia tried to be a mini T-Bird. Neither could get out of thir own way, although I never drove the V-8. Why Ford didn’t rebadge the Capri and bring it over mystified me. Better looking, better handling, far more fun to drive and already on the shelf.
There’s something to be said for clinging to the familiar in times of crisis. Maybe the Monza was just too future-looking, although it does post-date the shock. Don’t know that the Camaro/Firebird and Stang II are like-for-like.
Its twin is around here somewhere green with V8 Ive yet to see it parked for a shot.Rare but ugly as
There is a pastel yellow one with the white padded top in my neighborhood. I’ve never gotten a good look at it.
My dad bought one like this, in 1978. It was a 1975 model, owned by a friend of his. White Ghia, with a white full vinyl top, tan vinyl interior. Automatic, and slow, with an awful hesitation when you stepped on the gas. I thought it had some kind of six in it, definitely not V8, but with so little power, maybe it did. He bought it when my brother was about 18, to replace a gas guzzling ’69 Olds Delta 88 convertible. At the time, I’m sure he was thinking this was young and sporty. By the time I was 17 and driving, it wa mine, since my brother was away at school. Free wheels were wheels, so I knew (and know) that I shouldn’t complain, but I have to admit that I hated this car and was a tinge embarassed to be seen in it. It was slow, girly, way uncool and nothing like its predecessors. I didn’t want or need anything fancy – just something cooler!
Horrible,a deadly sin of the highest order.V8 RWD what’s not to like?Plenty,looks,feeble power for a 302 V8,battering ram bumpers.GM must have laughed their heads off when they saw this.A once great name dragged through the mud yet again
I don’t personally think only those companies which have died deserve DS articles. Although I believe bad cars deserve to be maligned, factors beyond inferior product can bring on bankruptcy. That’s a can of worms I DON’T want to open…
…and having said that, I can understand the appeal of a small, well-optioned car with a torquey–if breathless–V8. It’s a flabby cruiser which can be easily parked.
That is one uuuuugly car. I know they sold well but I cannot for the life of me understand why.
Perspective on Mustangs seems to be from where your age relates to it.
Most people agree that most cars from the Mid ’60s have wonderful styling. It seems to be where we draw retro from.
I thought these Pintobangs were okay. They came out “right sized” for the times and sold like crazy when I was 11 years old. My sister had one and I thought it looked like an updated Mustang. My sister had the 4, automatic, and air. Driving it was awful.
My 11 year old son recently saw a very nice Fox Mustang. He declared it UGLY. He loves the current model. I was eventually a grudging fan of the Fox – it was the only game in town, but it never really looked like a Mustang.
By the way, was the new ’15 at the auto show last week. It looks like a Mustang and my family really liked it. It may not represent enough change for some.
Dave B, you in Houston? The new Mustang was really sweet…modernized the current look. I still think they can lop off another 3-4″ on body length….
Looks like a super clean example of one of Ford’s greatest hits. They did a great job separating the two bodystyles with the notchback Ghia going in a mini Mark IV direction and the Mach 1 / Cobra fastbacks taking on Camaros.
The non-factory pinstripes on this car accentuate the fender lines and remind me of more modern designs like the Mercedes CLS, CLA and BMW Z4. The wheelbase is a bit short other than that A+ on the styling. The car lasted five years without a single facelift.
An infinitely better car than the 71-73 Mustang and one that will go own in history as the first successful downsize.
BLECH!!! Its like a sawed off…..cross dressing…broughamified….
Screw it. This thing doesn’t make a shred of sense, and neither will any description I can come up with!
Rather than recreating the original Mustang, it could be argued, Ford wanted to create a ‘Mini Monte Carlo’. By using Monte Carlo-like body sculpting and trim, look how easy it was to create a Mini Monte…
Nice work Daniel! And a not-so-out-of-the-ballpark call.
Thanks Don. To me, the only element I see it sharing in common with the ’64 1/2 Mustang profile, is that body sculpting behind the door. Other than that, the Mustang II hardtop is pure 1970s personal luxury coupe. In a mini package. At least to my eyes.
I’d call the Mustang II hardtop a 70s marketing coup… like a mini Cordoba. Rather, than an engineering benchmark. The name said ‘Mustang’. But the look said ‘pre-Cordoba’.
It certainly looks more like a Monte Carlo then a mini T-Bird
Looks pretty much like the ’78-’80 Monte turned out.
That hadn’t occurred to me before, but you’re absolutely right.
I usually dislike automotive photoshop, but this is well done!
Very nice observation, I can’t unsee it now! lol
I agree, it really does remind me of the downsized 78 Monte and I harbor similar feelings towards it as I do the Mustang II
Good eye, Daniel. Just redo the side panels and – hey presto! I think it actually looks better with your faux-sculpturing on the sides. Somehow it doesn’t look as ill-proportioned.
It’s trying SO HARD to be equal parts Brougham, pony car and Pinto. And it fails at all three. And it’s adorable.
Aggghhh I love it I love it I love it
Seriously, I would rock one of these things, if only to aggravate my gearhead buddy who’s only 5 months older than me, but whose garage consists/has consisted of, over the past 6 1/2 years:
-an ’88 Firebird,
-two ’86 Camaros (one IROC-Z),
-an ’87 Jetta,
-a ’94 Mustang,
-an ’02 Dodge Cummins,
-and a motorcycle whose make and model eludes me.
He would hate this thing with a passion, but he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
“It’s trying SO HARD to be equal parts Brougham, pony car and Pinto. And it fails at all three.”
Which is why it succeeds so admirably at being a ’70s Ford.
I have no idea how many here remember the television “Romper Room” Magic Mirror where the host could see the kids in T.V. land. “I see Sally and Robert, and Nancy.”
Look at it through the Magic Mirror: “I see LTD and Pinto and Granada and Elite and oh look! Cousin Cougar, Marquis, and Great Uncle Continental!”
We had Romper Room in Australia. I thought it was ours. Did you have the milk break with the placemats?
My distinct memory of friends who had these Mustang IIs was that they were god-awful cars. A woman friend bought a new Ghia like this one with the 302/automatic, trading in a 65 Continental. The car ran badly and broke down frequently. Same was true of others who had the four and sticks, etc. Small was beautiful in 75 (Jerry Brown first became our governor that year based on this slogan) and many people bought the Mustang II for this reason. Setting aside its lack of reliability (at least the ones owned by my friends), it really is a badly styled car. The front and back don’t match, the wheels look too small, too many lines that don’t sync up, and too much gingerbread trim.
The small wheels and swoopy body lines are vaguely reminiscent of some British sports car, but then the blocky edges and square bumpers remove all such thoughts from the viewer’s mind.
Your friend traded in a ’65 Continental? On one of these? Heresy!! But smaller was better back then, I guess. My only experience with these Mustangs was as rental cars, one of which must have been an early model, as it coincided with the first gas crisis, as I recall. With the 302 engine they got horrendous gas mileage. I remember renting it in downtown San Francisco and by the time I got to Fremont and did some local driving for my job, it was out of gas. About on a par with my dad’s ’73 Maverick LDO. The Ghia models were kind of a junior Thunderbird luxomobile, though, pleasant enough, but nowhere near the panache of my ’70 Cougar XR-7 (which had its own awful gas mileage issues, btw).
The Ghia models were kind of a junior Thunderbird luxomobile
And how. The magazine articles at the time of it’s introduction were talking about how the bits of trim were designed to fit together snugly. There were claims of “jewel like” fit and finish.
The interior was really nice. If I recall, the one I looked at had the blue interior pictured here.
The first ones didn’t have the opera windows either. The bumpers aren’t bad at all, considering what Ford hung on it’s other models in the mid 70s. All in all, it kind of works for me, though building it on the 2 door Maverick platform, at the same time as the luxo Granada was built on the 4 door Maverick platform, would have been the way I would have gone.
The one really bad impression I recall is how shallow the trunk was.
A close friend bought a baby blue 74 MII Ghia at 4 years old, and I spent quite a bit of time in it. I never developed an appreciation for that big rough four cylinder engine, but at least it was not made worse by adding an automatic. The interior was really very nice. The doors felt like the heaviest doors ever put in a small car – it really did feel like a mini Mark IV in the feel of the body and the interior trim.
Then, after a couple of years, the rust started. That would have been after the cracked head. My friend kept it for a few years, and even did a through job of body repair and a repaint (he was a body man) to keep it looking good. I could see the attraction, but I preferred my 71 Scamp.
Yes, the Continental was just too big for the driveway/garage at the cute little house she was renting in Westwood and it was about 10 years old when replaced by the Mustang II. Believe me, she had many doubts that she’d made the right move, especially given that the new Mustang was less reliable than the old Continental.
According to the biography of UCLA’s Chancellor Franklin Murphy, who was on the board of Ford Motor Company and close friends with Henry II, Dr. Murphy loved his little Mustang II Ghia so small was beautiful among many during this period!
My 72 Maverick LDO had the 302 and automatic and got terrible gas mileage and the tank was very small, something like 10 gallons, which meant frequent fill-ups, very inconvenient during the gas crises of 73-74. Makes me appreciate the 20 gallon tank on my G37 sedan today! No wonder people started flocking to the Japanese imports in big numbers by the late 70’s.
I remember when these came out. Really kind of liked them…liked them better than the 71 generation Mustang. Actually went over to the Ford dealer for a better look. Nice interior. Looks OK from the front, especially the early ones, before the grill was pushed out to make room for the 302. Probably the thing that really doesn’t look right is the Pinto wheelbase, just too short for the overal length of the car, and the dinky wheels.
If they had put it on the 2 door Maverick’s platform, it probably would have looked better, and made a smoother transition between the 71 series and the Fox version of 79 Apparently, this was the original plan, then they had a “better idea”.
Ford was probably targeting the Celica and Capri,, rather than finding a niche between the 4 bangers and the dinosaurs GM was making. Those early Celicas were not exactly stunners either.
I seem to be among the few who think the early Celica is a good-looking car. The big bumpers added to U.S. cars didn’t do them any favors, of course, and some of the detailing is little dubious (the wheelcovers were all pretty dreadful and the body-colored bumper covers offered in some markets weren’t much better), but it’s an attractive shape and the proportions are pretty good. I think it’s much, much better than the CALTY-designed second-generation car. It’s just a pity that the interesting engines weren’t sold here.
That first series Celica was a great looking car. We got them with the orig bumpers and still see a few around.
I seem to be among the few who think the early Celica is a good-looking car.
The hatchback that came out a few years later looked better balanced. The coupes looked a bit better balanced than the Mustang II because they didn’t have as much front overhang. But the chrome fake exhaust ports on the hood? And the trim behind the rear side windows? The high beltline? And sticks in my mind I saw a lot of them with some gaudy stripes on the sides.
You’re right about the trim fruit; the Japanese rarely seemed to have enough confidence to just let the body work on its own. Having said that, there were so many monstrosities out of Japan, the fruit trim was a convenient way of ‘gilding the weed’.
Still, on this model I think they succeeded. In some ways its actually prettier than the concept.
Mustang 2 was one of the all time WTF product. The difference between Mustang 2 and Citroens? Citroens were designed to be ugly and different. Most of time, they were ugly enough to be cute. Mustang 2 is just ugly.
Which Citroen are you referring to? The Ami? The 2CV? Or just all Citröens in general.
I had the ’75 version of this car back in the early eighties. Overall it was a reliable, pleasant car. The detuned 302 was really pretty weak, but in this light car is was more than adequate. It was very nose heavy and handled accordingly. It was brown with a tan top and interior and had the alloy wheels. I enjoyed the broughaminess of the era and Ford was a leader in that area. My sister had a plain ’76 Pinto at the same time. Although they shared the same platform, there was a vast difference between it and my Mustang. The Ghia package did not correct the flaws of the Pinto, but it did a pretty good job of covering them up.
I grew up with these, and sort of “imprinted” on them, so can’t pretend to be objective about the look. Interesting how few I see these days (in contrast to all the restored 64-71 Mustangs out there). A important part of its legacy was as a “donor” car, with all the hot rods using that Mustang II front end; secondarily, I believe its engine mounts and such could be used to bolt a 302 right up into a Pinto, leading to some “sleeper” (if front-heavy) cars at the time.
An ugly misshapen little toad of a car (no offence intended to toads) 🙂
My niece had one of these as a first car . 75 red (at one time) V8 Ghia with AC. She had $500.00 to spend, It had blown head gaskets on both sides. It’ (barely) chugged home under it’s own power. For $200.00 I got a top end gasket set and had the heads surfaced, also it covered antifreeze,plugs,oil and filter. It was roomier than you would think under the hood, I had no problem R&R the heads. I did have a small box of leftover brackets and bolts, mostly from the non-functional AC. The interior was faded into about 6 shades of red, purple and pink. It looked like a rolling toilet. But It got her around for about 3 years, and all she bought was tires. And a lot of gas, it got terrible mileage. She eventually sold it for about what she had in it, the C4 and 302, along with the front suspension and steering rack was in demand the at the time. She paid $300.00 for it. Bought it in 1987.
Paul: Did you really identify the Ford 302 as 4.9 liters? Where have you been? FIVE POINT OH sound familiar?
Familiar? Yes. Truthful? No. But then what’s truth got to do with marketing? 😉
We all know it was to differentiate the 302 from the 300 Six (also 4.9 L) when advertising the pickups.
It was always 4.9 in Australia.
Oh dear, looks like a second week of ugly cars…….
This car is unfairly maligned. If it had simply been called the Ford Ghia we’d all be reminiscing how prescient Ford was to take the stylign cues of the personal luxury coupe and translate them to a more sensible size. After all, how many Monte Carlos ever saw more than two people on a regular basis? To my eyes its a far more successful shrink than the horrible ’80 Thunderbird/Mark VI.
My two best friends in college were Jeff and Dave. Jeff’s father owned a Ford Dealership and gave Jeff a new Mustang II Cobra, Dave had a new Duster which cost about half of what Jeff’s Mustang did. Dave could outrun, out maneuver, out do anything Jeff could in that Cobra. Dave was unmerciful in his teasing of Jeff’s Cobra, they often turned to fists when talking about their cars. This was my first real understanding of what happens when a car maker takes a legendary name and reduces it to something that needs defending.
I always think of Jeff and Dave whenever I see one of these horrible little Mustang IIs
The first annual Harrisburg Auto Show was held in early 1974, and I went with one of my friends. The two cars that really made an impression on us were the Mustang II and Pontiac Grand Am.
At the time, these cars were a breath of fresh air after the bloated 1971-73 generation. If I recall correctly, Newsweek even ran a lengthy story on the new Mustang II in the fall of 1973, complete with photos of Lee Iacocca. An iconic nameplate being applied to a SMALLER car was big news in the fall of 1973. The “downsizing” of our cars wasn’t in the lexicon at that time.
Today they look awkward, and have become one of the vehicular poster children of just how bad the “Malaise Era” really was. It did sell well at the time, however, and kept the Mustang nameplate viable until Ford could get it back on track with the Fox-based cars in 1979.
A Deadly Sin if there ever was one. The fact that the 1984 version of this car not including a V8 in the lineup was truly stupid. Being the garbage Cologne 2.8 made it even worse.
The “1984 version” was not the same car as the one featured. Totally different platform.
Can’t say as I hate II’s, but I can’t exactly like them either. One of my younger brothers had a ’75 2.3L/C3, and I drove it on more than a few occasions. A little underpowered compared to the ’79 3.3L powered Fairmont I had at the time, but not a bad driving little car.
I must be blind because I don’t find these ugly at all. And 1.1 million sold in 5 years is nothing to sneeze at.
Just wondering – can anyone think of another car which was so successful in the market at the time, but which is so maligned/detested/ignored nowadays?
I never liked these when new, but can sort-of see the point today. They were more like a Celica than a Mustang-of-old. Would we like them more nowadays if they hadn’t been called Mustang?
If it hadn’t been for OPEC, it undoubtedly wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. Any small cars, including the Vega, Pinto and Gremlin had big surges in sales as a result of the energy crisis. How the Mustang II would have done in an environment of continued cheap gas is an interesting question to ponder.
Clearly, it was time to put the Mustang on a diet, but one a bit less drastic might well have been a better choice. And it would have probably looked better.
We covered this issue a while back, and “created” an alternate Maverick-based Mustang II without all that front overhang and bigger wheels and tires: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/what-if-cc-builds-a-better-mustang-ii/
This happens all the time; all-too often cars succeed or fail because of circumstance beyond their own reality; usually economic ones.
Amazing how great minds think alike eh? Exactly what I have been posting on this thread. I didn’t know the older thread existed.
So now, we need to find a custom body guy, round up an old Maverick and make it real. Same badging and everything. Take it to car shows and drive people crazy….”yeah, it’s a Mustang II, but I don’t remember it being quite like this…”
I think the II would have probably still done well even if there wasn’t a spike in gas prices. It could have even looked better while on the Pinto chassis if the styling would have been a little better, maybe more European Capri and less baby Mark IV, also, the Mustang II has always desperately need bigger wheels.
The styling of the II did reflect all the popular themes from the time. Sort of how the baby SUV crossover thing is big now, the baby Monte Carlo/Thunderbird look was hot at the time.
I almost forgot, my aunt had one of these. Bought it new a few years after I was born so maybe ’77 or ’78. White with tan interior and I think it had the padded top in tan. It was a slushbox, and even tho I was a mere tyke, I do remember the engine was a wheezing, trembling turd that defined ‘feeble’. When she and her new husband moved down to Huntsville AL in about ’82 the tinworms had chewed up this wart of a car to the point they just junked it. Granted it came from northern NJ where the salt flows like wine…
I love the “they should have made it off of the Maverick platform” comments. The Maverick is the Falcon which is the basis for the Mustang that got way too big. They were trying to do something smaller, remember?
The Maverick front overhang looks just as long as the Pinto overhang to me. Even if shorter the tear-up on the Mav to get the size down to the magic Mustang II level would have exceeded what was spent starting with the Pinto. Or it would have had a shorter front overhang but been too tall or too wide or had too long of a rear overhang etc. The car would have weighed more, been less fuel efficient (no 4-cyl.) and all of the gripes about performance would have been worse.
The size was perfect and the Pinto platform was the best way to get there.
Did you bother to read the other article on the subject before commenting?:
Here’s the key parts:
We could have based our Better MII on the Capri, but for this exercise, let’s assume that Ford had chosen the more realistic Maverick alternative. The Maverick was itself a development of the original Mustang/Falcon platform, and the cost of adapting it would have had to be very low indeed. The Maverick body would only need a fairly light re-skin, as the basic proportions and shape are all there.
The new front suspension and rack and pinion steering Ford developed for the Mustang II could have been scaled easily to the Maverick platform, potentially endowed the resulting MIIv.2 with superior handling. The real MII was cursed with severe understeer, among other handling shortcomings. Much of that was due to its nose-heaviness, because of the short wb and the long front overhang. The V6 Mach I had a 57/43 weight distribution; the V8 probably pushed that to 60% in the front. And with the Pinto chassis’ small wheels and tires, the MII was simply overwhelmed.
But what about weight? A key design/marketing goal was to offer a four cylinder in the MII, for economy and competitive reasons. Not really a problem: the 1974 MII weighed 2700 lbs for the four, and 2900 for the V6. The Maverick, in 1974 form with big bumpers, weighed 2700 lbs, the same as the four cylinder MII, and that’s with the straight six. It’s quite obvious that the (real) MII had no weight benefit from its heavily re-worked Pinto platform. Based on the Maverick, a four cylinder “What If MII” would actually have weighed less than the real thing.
Weight would not have been a problem. Handling, a major shortcoming of the MII, would have been better. As would the looks.
And regarding you comment: The Maverick is the Falcon which is the basis for the Mustang that got way too big. They were trying to do something smaller, remember?
The original Mustang was right sized, and light. It only got bigger (and too big) starting in 1969. A Maverick-based MII would have just got it back to where it belonged in the first place.
I thought I read that before but when I checked it was that white Cobra II. I think the articles on the blue Cobra II were before my time at CC because I didn’t comment and have strong opinions about the MII. So I read it anew.
Likely the heavy weight came from adapting the new front suspension to the existing platform. Adding that to the Maverick would have resulted in the same weight gain, if it could be done at all. How ever more a ’74 Maverick weighed over a ’74 Pinto is how much more the Mav based MII would have weighed over the Pinto based one, comp equipped. You’re mixing apples and oranges I’m afraid.
I was a kid when the MII came out but vividly remember it being a really, really big deal. New name, new size and new engine — the V6.
A Mav based MII would have lacked all that newness. Newness was the magic of the original, not its right size. Lee knew that, obviously better than anyone 😉
That low revving 200 CID Falcon engine may have been durable but would have seemed like a boat anchor to folks cross shopping SOHC imports. At least the OHV Cologne V6 was rev happy.
I hated the long front overhang and 13″ wheels too but overall the MII was a well-executed, successful car. A set of 14 or 15s makes all the difference in the world and even hides the overhang somewhat.
I think the sales dive you talked about had more to do with the GM H-body cars arriving than it did with the end of the fuel crisis. Let’s face it those were a copy of the MII and every GM division got one except Cadillac. As I remember those were heavy too.
PS — The ’69 Mustang was not “too big”. In fact many Mustang fans consider the ’69 Fastback to be the ultimate Mustang in terms of looks and performance.
Likely the heavy weight came from adapting the new front suspension to the existing platform. Adding that to the Maverick would have resulted in the same weight gain, if it could be done at all.
I’m not sure I understand. The Pinto platform was stretched a bit for the MII. The Maverick would not need to be stretched at all as it already had room for the 302.
That low revving 200 CID Falcon engine may have been durable but would have seemed like a boat anchor to folks cross shopping SOHC imports.
Compare the base 200 six to the Pinto 4 banger that was standard in the MII. iirc, the German V6 was initially offered in the 79 Mustang, so it could have been offered in a Maverick based Mustang. Besides, Falcon sixes had been available in the Mustang since day one.
Ford really would have had the market covered both ways: the Capri for people looking at a Celica, and a Maverick based Mustang, with all the “all new” styling and swanky Ghia trim, but in the size Mustang buyers are used to, for the model’s traditional market.
I would take the fact that Ford had to modify the front end to wedge the 302 in, so soon after the MII’s introduction, as evidence that Ford realized they aimed too small for the Mustang’s clientele
I think the sales dive you talked about had more to do with the GM H-body cars arriving than it did with the end of the fuel crisis. Let’s face it those were a copy of the MII and every GM division got one except Cadillac.
Seems sales of all small cars fell off in 75. Some time ago, I looked at AMC sales in 74 and 75, and iirc, more Gremlins and Hornets combined sold in 74 than Gremlins, Hornets and Pacers combined sold in 75.
It would have been a lot of work updating the Maverick to rack and pinion, a track not too narrow for the body, etc. Recirculating ball steering to the import crowd would have been slightly less nauseating than the 200 CID Falcon engine. Yes it powered the original Mustang in base form but this was 10 years later. 1-bbl carbs were no longer cutting edge on sporty cars 😉
The 2.8L Cologne V6 was a terrific engine but didn’t do so well with a lot of weight behind it. Ever drive a 2.8L ’74 Capri? I have and it was a rocket. Same engine that the MII had. It was pretty good in the Capri II and passable in the MII.
In a heavier Mav based MII it would have been a total dog.
Ford could not cover the Celica market with the German produced Capri. The exchange rate went to hell around ’75-76, Ford raised prices and Capri sales tanked. They weren’t going to sell them at a loss.
The Japanese yen was very weak which gave the Celica a huge price advantage over the Capri. The only hope was a home grown Celica fighter. The fact that the MII could do that, be a mini Mark IV and also a Camaro competitor says a lot about the car.
Sales of small cars did not die in ’75. ’75 brought us the Corolla SR5, VW Rabbit and Chevette. The Accord came in ’76 and back then it was tiny. Even Cadillac jumped into the game with the ’76 Seville. Small was still big even though energy fears subsided, somewhat.
The problem with AMC sales in ’75 was that the cars were tired old AMCs. The market wanted new and Ford delivered with the Mustang II. So did Cadillac with the Seville. I believe the Mustang II was one of the inspirations for Cadillac on the Seville.
I think that the MII’s weight gain had to be more than just the front suspension. I spent a fair amount of time around these, and the MII always had a “heavier” feel to it than the Maverick (and the original Mustang) had. The MII felt like a Gran Torino or an LTD, especially in the apparent weight of the doors. The MII also felt a lot heavier than the Pinto, and undoubtedly also had a lot of extra bracing and sound deadening in it, all of which adds weight.
The four years that separated the Maverick’s development from the MII’s development seemed to be two completely separate eras in Ford’s design philosophy. The earlier car was fairly lightweight, the latter was much heavier than it should have been and oriented towards max luxury (much like everything else out of Ford from 1972 or so.)
The original Mustang was right sized, and light. It only got bigger (and too big) starting in 1969. A Maverick-based MII would have just got it back to where it belonged in the first place.
Specs for 74 Maverick Grabber w/302 :w/b 103, length 187, width 70.5, height 53, weight 3067
79 Fox platform Mustang hatch w/302: w/b 100.4, length 179.1, width 69.1, height 51.5, weight 2844
1968 Mustang w/289 w/b 108, length 183.6, width 70.9, height 51.6, weight 3011
1973 Mustang w/302: w/b 109, length 193.8, width 74.1, height 50, weight 3239
Compare the length of the precrashbumper Maverick, 179.4, to the 68 and 73. you have a slightly downsized Mustang, compared to the 68, but a car that is a foot shorter and nearly 200lbs ligher than the bloated 73. Then the 79 will, again, be slightly downsized, and 200lbs lighter than the Maverick based Mustang.
I think the doctored pix on the old post make a vast improvement in the proportions, balance and athleticism of the car.
Left a hole in the data series:
75 MII w/302: w/b 96.2, length 175, width 70.2, height 49.7, track 55.6/55.8, weight 3170…that’s interesting, 100 lbs heavier than the Maverick, while a foot shorter. That’s a lot of sound insulation.
North American spec 75 Capri II w/V6: w/b 100.7, length 174.8. width 66.9, height 53.4, track 53.3/54.5, weight 2685. 500lbs lighter than the MII?
1st gen Celica w/b 95.5, length 169.2, width 63, height 51.6 weight 2392lbs, over 700lbs lighter than the MII.
And accoring to the specs here, the Celica used recirculating ball steering.
Uh according to the Capri Club the Capri II V6 was 2,800 pounds, the fully loaded Ghia 2,996. They used the word Oink to describe the weight increase.
Never said the Celica had rack & pinion in fact we’ve discussed here before how even the CALTY version had recirculating ball steering.
Of course the MII had a sound package, that was part of the “little jewel” concept. The MII V8 curb weight you cite wasn’t that much heavier than a loaded Capri II Ghia and most of that difference was due to the 302 V8 and heavier transmission, not the super duty sound package.
Also hatchback bodystyles are notoriously heavy but that’s what the market wanted back then. The Mav was not a hatchback.
Uh according to the Capri Club the Capri II V6 was 2,800 pounds, the fully loaded Ghia 2,996. They used the word Oink to describe the weight increase.
Here is where I was getting Capri stats. All the V6 versions are in the 2600-2700 range.
As for hatchbacks weighing more that a coupe. the same site gives the weight of a base MII coupe with the 302 as 3179, the hatchback at 3214, so yes, the hatchback is heavier, by all of 35lbs. The broughmated Ghia coupe weighed 3223.
The bottom line is the MII had it’s charms, but, while it was sized to compete with the Celica, it was far heavier, could be optioned to a Thunderbird trim level and suffered some unfortunate styling compromises, so didn’t really compete with the Celica after all.
Initial sales were good, just like first year sales of the Pacer and 74 Matador coupe, but then fell by 100,000 and stayed down.
Why did Ford do what it did? Henry II is dead, and Iacocca probably isn’t talking.
I had to LOL at your comment that Mustang II sales were “good”. I would say so… triple the sales of the ’73 and within 10% of the original Mustang’s first year. After that sales decayed at about the same rate as the original for the same reason — copy cat competitors. One of those was the Monza 2+2 which, according to your site, weighed 3,119 pounds with the small block V-8 in base trim.
Another competitor was the ’78 Celica which had handling as soft as a marshmallow. But it was sure refined and had features like power windows that the Mustang II never had. I wonder where Toyota got that idea from :-). Of course it was Ford, they were fond of copying Mustangs witness the ’77 Celica Liftback.
By the way the Capri II wasn’t that much bigger than the Capri I but comparably equipped weighed 150 pounds more. Nearly all of that was attributed in the magazines to the new hatchback body style. The beefier structure for a H/B goes into all of the models whether they are hatchbacks or not or you end up having too many body differences in production.
triple the sales of the ’73 and within 10% of the original Mustang’s first year.
Of course, the 64 had a short run due to the April introduction date. Found an interesting chart, Mustang sales by year since 64 Facinating how, through the 80s, 90s and 00s, outside of recessions, Mustang sales were reasonably stable. Are the weak sales now due to the return of the Camaro and Challenger, or because the ‘stang has, again, left it’s roots and gotten so impossibly expensive? On the occasions that I’ve looked for a new one, the base GT with fabric upholstry is very hard to find in stock. Seems every one on a dealer’s lot is loaded and priced from $35 to $40K
I also see that, when the Mustang returned to a compact platform in 79, sales flew even higher than the first MII did in 74, but then crashed when Volker strangled the economy with high interest rates, which would hit cars especially hard as most people have to finance one.
Was the MII OK as it was, or would it have been better on the Maverick platform? We could probably debate this until we both take a dirt nap.
“I also see that, when the Mustang returned to a compact platform in 79, sales flew even higher than the first MII did in 74, but then crashed when Volker strangled the economy with high interest rates, which would hit cars especially hard as most people have to finance one.”
I suppose but the MII had to live its last three years under double digit interest rates (higher than Volker’s), inflation and unemployment. The fact that it could outsell the Fox Mustang over the first five years with those headwinds is really saying something.
The MII was a phenomenally expensive small car and yet it still sold like hotcakes. If I’m reading your chart correctly year 5 MII sales were as high as year 2. Year 5 Fox Stang sales were about 1/2 of year 2.
Mustang 2, Fox 0 😉
Watching the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977-79) last night with the kids and what car is Pamela Sue Martin (Nancy) driving? A 1975 Ford Mustang II Ghia. Since Nancy’s dad was a lawyer, I guess that was a pretty nice set of wheels for a teenager to have back then. And to top it off, Nancy solved the case!
Never fear, for I’ve found one to write up, only in a 1976 Givenchy Mark IV combination of aqua with white landau top and white interior with blue carpeting
Here’s a sneak peek. Yes, it does have a stand-up hood ornament!
WOW – THAT’S THE EXACT COLOR THAT MINE WAS!!!! It was called Light Aqua, Code 7Q LOL I still remember that! It is actually a 1977 color.
Mine had the matching low back vinyl buckets.
Found this one on Google – looks like mine but I didnt have a Ghia, I had the base model with a full white vinyl top.
Light Aqua was the replacement color for Silver Blue Glow from 1976. It was offered for 1977 and 1978 as well. It was a popular color – I used to see a lot of them in RI back in the day.