As the early ’65-’73 Mustangs came to a close on my previous post, we continue with the not-as-loved later offerings. Not that the owners of these samples care much about such notions, as their possessions were a means to get their hands on some of that ‘Stang lore, in any way. Aesthetics aside, these owners are definitely into the Mustang Gospel, and are only too happy to spread the word.
V8s tend to be the norm with most of these, as with the locals that’s the main allure of later models. In the region, the offerings from ’74 to ’05 barely exist in meaningful numbers, but those few are pampered in ways that US counterparts probably rarely experience.
Not surprisingly, Mustang IIs are a very thin lot. No amount of gospel can cover for that model’s deadly sins, even if a few devotees are found here and there. I’m 93.85% with the II’s deadly sin status, giving it minor points by mere fact of keeping Ford’s pony car alive during the 70’s nadir years.
This particular II is owned by a Honduras native, so this was a bit of an international gathering in the end. And yes, if you must know, this disco-age sample had the original engine swapped for a V8. At some point, Cesar (my Mustang devotee friend) felt compelled to exchange some tips on chassis reinforcements with the car’s owner. He should know, as he had a Mustang II for some time, and in his words it ‘split in half’ after some performance enhancements of his own.
This is probably the nicest II I’ve seen in ages, and as good a sample as it’s possible. To see the original Mustang’s cues put through the grinder of ’70s styling shrunken over a Pinto chassis makes for a rather goofy affair. There’s definitely more ‘secretaries car’ on these than in the ’64 1/2, and it’s no wonder it was the Charlie’s Angels ‘Stang. Talking about gals, on a dinner with my wife’s girlfriends they all referred to this model solely by the adjectives ‘cute’ and ‘pretty.’ Ok, now that I think some more about it, I’m 99.99% agreeing with the deadly status.
As previously explained, since the locals’ love is aimed mostly to the original ‘Stang, it’s not surprising that the post 2005’s are quite popular as well, as it evokes the original rather successfully. The second photo goes a long way to show how those ‘original cues’ meant different things to different ages; as the yellow looks very JLo-in-the-2000s, while the little II looks like an undernourished wannabe nymphet that didn’t make the cut into a Happy Days episode (I do admit my phone’s wide angle lens adds to that perception).
Talking some more about the undernourished nymphet, it’s actually a rather CC affair. Found in a garage a couple of years ago, the current owner, in a “gotta have a Mustang” state of being (an unhealthy and serious condition) impulsively purchased the vehicle and got it roadworthy during the pandemic. However, it has since developed an unusual camber on the front driver’s side wheel. Cesar found the time to pull the owner aside and warned him to ‘look into it,’ with his previous Mustang II experience serving as cautionary tale.
As of this post, the owner seems to have ‘looked into it,’ for the car is now selling at the marketplace for $7,500, probably hoping to recoup some of his investment. On that ad, I discovered how much Pinto lurks under this II’s hood, as the engine is the run-of-the-mill Lima 4. Looks pretty unmolested though.
Sticking to negatives, the wooden ‘formica’ interior brought a sense of decontentment that just went against Iacocca’s claims of the II being a “little jewel.” The color hues are very period correct, with maroon-brown with brown, on top of some more brown. I’ll stop there, before my ‘fake wood’ PTSD kicks in; after all, I was raised in the 70’s.
As the Salvadorian Civil War started in early 1980, with a 5 year government ban on vehicle imports, early Fox body Mustangs rarely show up. Once the 5.0 entered the picture and the import ban was lifted, devotees of the Mustang Gospel took to grey imports as Ford never brought the model back to the region.
Only one early Fox-body Mustang was present, and that was Cesar’s, his being a bit of a weekend toy and project car. I’ll delve more on its virtues and foibles in a future post. Suffice to say that the ’79 Mustang was the only to ever break from the 65’s styling trappings, with a clean modern look befitting the euro likings of Ford’s then management. There was still a lot of malaise on the mechanicals and the interior, but that was per course for most American offerings at the time.
The rounded ‘aero’ nose of later Fox bodies looks slightly ill-fitting to my eyes, even though it kept the model looking new for a few more years. Through the use of smoked glass the updated styling does a better job of cleaning the greenhouse’s C-pillar area, doing away with the most dated bit of the ’79 body. The vinyl top is an odd detail on this sample and probably dealer installed back in the US, as vinyl shops simply don’t exist over here (and with that, you brougham lovers know this land is not for you).
This white sample has a Miami vibe to me, even though they were rather popular in California, where I lived at the time. Technically, this is my generation’s ‘Stang, and even if sales only hovered around 100K yearly, it was the sole American model my classmates mentioned as a car they ‘aspired to.’
Being in California during the early 90’s was to see firsthand the collapse of American brands with then-20 somethings. Whatever aspirations the Sloan ladder had placed in the American psyche was nowhere to be found with California’s youth of the time, and to mention a US make in conversation was a death knell for further talk (look… I tried). Only the Mustang bucked this trend, with quite a few guys talking about owning one. A Spanish classmate sprung to buy one with his first paycheck, and there were a few more such cases among my classmates.
For the record, if I were to choose, I would take this plain black LX. Not too extrovert, with just enough period correct ‘Stang.
A flurry of interest raised sales some on the aero’s last years, as the Probe came out and there was much fear for the future of Ford’s pony car. By then, dashboard and front accommodations had improved as well, though the rear was still strictly for appearances. Not a big deal, as I assume for most buyers the car was a weekend toy, or had more than one vehicle at home.
The ’94 introduction proved rather successful, and put most worries of the Mustang’s future at ease. It sold in respectable numbers and was -once again- fairly popular in California. Of course, it never approached the sales of the ’79, or ’74 years, much less the original ’65. That said, by then Ford had learned to live with lowered sales expectations, with the car’s position as a niche product cementing.
Ford’s Mach III had given a prelude of the 94’s styling, and while there were worries as to how the Mustang cues would fit the lozenge-styling of the 90’s, the results were rather effective. Once again, styling purists found those cues a bit gimmicky, but the Mustang faithful didn’t care about such reservations.
How successful those ‘Stang cues appear nowadays may be debatable, but they do add some distinction to the organic styling and keeps it from being too anodyne (a common malady of early 90’s car styling). I probably have more gripes about the interior, which painfully tried to emulate the 65’s dash with a sea of plastic formed shapes of varying quality. Still, the ‘Stang interior was way ahead from any of GM’s competing F-bodies.
By this point, the local’s penchant for extroverted styling comes into play, with somewhat excessive accessories appearing more often than not. Stripes become de rigueur, as well as the occasional large sticker. Originality has gone out the window too, but is that really important at this point?
The ’99 restyle made use of Ford’s new edge styling in perfect evolutionary form. You either found it a successful manlier interpretation of the 94’s lines, or an unimaginative job mucking around the same themes. Either familiarity or a personal bias kept me from shooting much of this sample. That said, this generation kept the Mustang alive until the successful retro reincarnation of 2005.
Curiously enough, around the grounds a rare (in these lands) late GTO appeared. The driving and chassis dynamics of the ’03-’06 GTOs are leagues beyond what 60’s offerings had, but the uninspired styling brings a huge counterpoint against Ford’s original pony car. Considering Pontiac’s sad fate, the Mustang evolution goes to show how much work, chance, and effort come into play in order to keep an icon alive.
Happy Mustang morning!
Nice variety here.
That red II has a hood alignment issue.
Plus it has the “HST” lighting package.
(headlight shaped trinkets)😀
The window cranks making those circular marks on the door vinyl was a common thing, (at least on Fords) back then.
When someone puts a strong V8 into a Mustang II, it reminds me of those old comic book ads about the skinny guy at the beach getting sand kicked at him by a big bully, and then coming back all muscular and not having to accept the bullying anymore.
Nice posting and thanks.
HST = Headlight Shaped Trinkets!
My nomination for CC Zinger of the Year! 😉
Ayup. So does the black “V8” car.
You usually say “headLAMP shaped trinkets”, don’t you?
I meant to borrow your saying while changing it just enough to avoid copyright issues.😀
If I’m wrong about that I will start writing the cheques now.
They’ll be very small cheques. Not only the amount written, but the cheques themselves will be on microfiche and too small to sign.
(Did I spell “cheque” right? Too lazy to cheque.😀)
Although they’re used interchangeably in casual speech and writing, the terms don’t mean quite the same thing; a headlighting system comprises headlamps producing the headlight. This is consistent with more general (formal) usage—a lamp produces light.
(Don’t worry about any cheques; despite being Canadian, I’m not into royalties.)
Yes, everyone makes fun of the Mustang II. However, it brought hordes of cash to FOMOCO during the Oil Crisis of ’73. Most of these were heavily optioned with A/C or Ghia packages adding additional bucks to the bottom line. IIRC, Chrysler was bleeding like a stuck pig and GM wasn’t too far behind.
Without the oil crisis, Lido would have looked like a complete idiot and hastened his exit from Ford. However, the Mustang II provided the cash for the Granada with provided the cash for the Fox and Panther platforms.
Call it the six degrees of Mustang II.
“Six degrees of Mustang II”
As someone who has owned 2 Mustangs and came close to owning 2 others over the years, including a Mustang II hatchback, they do have a certain something that most Ford sedans don’t have. A extra bit of style, perhaps?
The 2 that I owned, nearly 30 years apart, were in many ways similar. The 66 coupe had a V8 and automatic transmission and the 06 convertible has a V6 with the same rated power. Just driving they are almost interchangeable. Yet each belongs to a period of time due to differences in style.
And yet, if I had to pick between the two I would want the 66, but with A/C, you can keep all the ” upgrades ” that are part of the 06.
That first iteration of the retrostang keeps looking better and better to my eyes. They got it just right in ’05, before it subsequently got more pinched and ugly with each refresh.
I drove a buddy’s ’05 across the country when it was about four or five years old. It performed great through all kinds of weather. Back in CA, my girlfriend’s roommate had also sprung for a red ’05, but a GT, which looked fantastic.
I’d love to find a used one as a toy, but I just don’t have the space for it, and it’s not practical.
Thanks for the write-up – lots of cool old vintage Stangs. The IIs are so old and uncommon now that they are quite unique. Still, it’s the last car I’d plunge old car money into. And yet, I’d probably prefer that uniqueness to the current Angry Birds Mustang.
What makes the ’05 Mustang work is that it wasn’t really retro. It picked up on all sorts of vintage Mustang styling cues, yet it still looked unabashedly like a new car. If someone who had never seen an old Mustang before laid eyes on an ’05, they’d never think it was retro or old-fashioned. It’s more like how every BMW or Mercedes from the 1960s to the early 2000s clung to familiar brand styling cues, yet somehow were never labelled “retro” (Z8 excepted).
I worked on the Mustang II when it was new. Yeah, it was a Pinto reskin, but it wasn’t a bad combination for the times. An economy car mated with pseudo-luxury features. It felt so much more comfortable than a Pinto.
The last of the real (’73) Mustangs dropped the performance bar pretty low. The Mustang II was a logical extension of that trend.
At least let’s recognize the Mustang II for a quality that keeps it in great demand at wrecking yards. Not sure who keeps track of such things, but Mustangs II steering gear has to be one of the most popular swaps on custom builds – perhaps 2nd only to old Chev Blazer frames.
Great review of the post-73 sorta-Mustangs. We think the retro ‘05 to ‘09 (?) did finally get it just right, the big round headlights, grille shape, and whole car really evokes the 1st gen better than anything since 1970. My wife got her dream flame-red convert in ‘07 and it perfectly fulfilled her passion to own one since ever April 1964 when she was in Jr High back in MD. It has the great look but with much improved safety, performance, convenience, and power. She babies it and it still looks new.
I found some interesting production numbers for each generation of the Mustang. Considering its short lifespan, the Mustang II did quite well.
First Generation 1964.5-1973 2,981,259 Avg. per year 350,736
Second Generation (Mustang II) 1974-1978 1,107,718 Avg. per year 276,929
Third Generation (Fox Body) 1979-1993 2,608,812 Avg. per year 153,459
Fourth Generation (SN95) 1994-2004 1,562,529 Avg. per year 156,252
Fifth Generation (S197) 2005-2014 1,006,975 Avg. per year 111,886
Sixth Generation (S550) 2015-Present 519,568 (2015-2020) Avg. per year
Thanks for the stats. The II is remarkable for being a car that sold so well but generates so little enthusiasm. Put another way, its post-production popularity to original sales ratio (PPP:OS) is exceptionally low.
Thanks for these articles, it’s interesting getting a glimpse into auto-enthusiasm in other countries. Mustangs in El Salvador is a topic that never entered my thoughts before! It’s cool there are so many Stang lovers there.
And amazing there are even a few Mustang II loyalists! I was feeling the II love on the first black one. I tend to agree with you that the II deserves credit for keeping the flame alive in hard times and we shouldn’t be too unkind to it just because it was ugly and slow in the 70’s. Lots of things were. That black car is in quite nice condition, and the aftermarket aluminum wheels with whitewalls is in the spirit of the age, as is the thick wood steering wheel. It’s even helpfully labeled as Second Generation (I saw the First, Third and Fourth, too, presumably the collection of the cars’ owner).
I lost the II love on the red one, though. It gets points strictly for survival. I hate to bag on somebody’s ride, but that car is just gross. Is 7500 the local currency or converted to US dollars? Because I just can’t see someone paying anything close to $7500 for that in the U.S.
The 7,500 is in US dollars (!). While used cars usually carry a bit of a premium over here, I think the owner is being overtly optimistic on that figure. Specially when a ’09 can be bought for the same amount of money on the local market.
Yes, after all this time the black one looks unique, as a previous post mentioned, and the presentation does a lot for that one. I didn’t talk kindly on the II, but took more shots of the black one than any of the later models.
This brings back memories of living in Dakar, Senegal. Down my street there was a (possibly French) man who had a small yard filled with Mustangs from 1974 to 1982 and a lot of parts. We walked over to a beat up early fox notchback, he lifted the hood and there it was: a four cylinder Toyota engine. It likely came from a rwd Carina, there were many of those out there.
Things like that weren’t uncommon, there was also a Blazer K5 on the other side of the city with a 3 piece front window glued together, good luck trying to find the original part out there. It’s interesting to see what people can and will do to keep a car running in countries like that, you don’t just throw a car away when it breaks down. I spent a lot of time at the local scrapyards and the hundreds of open air garages along the busy streets, Ill never forget the cars I saw and the things they did to keep them running.
I later on had a “79 Mustang hatchback with the 2.3 turbo, 4 speed and TRX handling package. Across the Atlantic it would have been junked long ago, it’s condition was pretty bad. Rotten panels, home made wiring that didn’t quite work, bad head gasket, no air filter, a wheel bearing that had so much wear it actually gave it a degree or two of camber…
It smoked as much as a steam train and ran poorly but it served me well. The engine was worn out and very out of tune so it actually sounded very tough at idle, almost V8 like and the chromed (and rusty) American Racing steelies with wide tires were great for the dirt, grass and sand it had to drive on. It certainly stood out since sportscars were very rare. Eventually the tired turbocharged four died and I sold it for about $1200 or so. It’s replacement was an overheating Alfa 33 which was a big mistake while the new owner was going to drop a Lincoln V8 in. Too bad I didn’t keep it!
A few thoughts:
Thanks Rich for showing us Mustang enthusiasm from El Salvador. This two-part series has been pretty cool.
It’s interesting to see the “Second Generation” and “Third Generation” windshield stickers. I’ve never see than before, as most just have something like that saying “Mustang” or “American Muscle” or whatever.
I’ve said it here before and will say it again: As a Mustang Enthusiast, I do not hate the second-generation Mustangs. As others have said, they were an important bridge for the marquis to get across the Malaise Era doldrums. And c’mon, are they really THAT bad looking people? Ok, maybe I have my rose-colored teenage glasses on when I say that, remembering Jaclyn Smith driving around in one. 😉
The black 5.0LX is my kinda fox. I do like the LX better than the GT of this generation.
That teal/green fourth gen “New Edge” Mustang looks great. While I prefer the retro stylings of the fifth gen (biased opinion… mine’s pictured below), that is a pretty car.
I don’t hate the new GTO either. Having had a ’97 GTP, I thought its styling looked pretty good at the time, albeit a little dated in a “That 90’s Show” sorta way…
Oh, and to scottn59c above: I can now never un-see the “Angry Birds” reference to the current Mustangs. Thanks for that. 🤣
And finally, maybe XR7Matt is right… The fifth gen Mustangs look so much bigger that the fourth gen Mustangs. You can really see that in the pictures of the teal ’94 parked next to that black ’07.
All good points, but, yes the Mustang II is THAT ugly. Go up and look at the straight right side photo of the red II and honestly say that isn’t by far the ugliest Mustang ever. Actually, make that one of the ugliest automobiles ever. The 21st century GTO is another car that gets labeled with having bad styling, but compared to the Mustang II, it’s freaking gorgeous.
That last photo sums everything up. The GTO had a performance heritage which was very strong in the ’60’s. While the reborn GTO is a very strong performer it just couldn’t connect with that heritage. Of course these will be collectible as they have quite limited production numbers. The blue ’68 Mustang coupe on the other hand, looks great, and clearly displays the magic that has kept Mustangs popular over the years.
MII suspensions lived on more than the cars.
With generations some ‘novice car fans’ define solely on body styling, and call ’67-’68 Mustangs the ‘2nd Generation’, ’69-’70, 3rd. etc.
I disagree, same novices try to put full size Chevys into “generations”, calling 1958 Impala a ‘first gen’, even though X frame was used in the ’59-’64. Not only that, but they were not all Impalas.
Regarding GTO’s, the emotional opinions show how powerful GM was at differentiation and advertising in the 50’s and 60’s. Some old timers still think Pontiac was a “stand alone car company” no relation to “lowly Chevy”. version. Novices think the 60’s GTO was like Corvette, [and Ford brought out the Mustang to compete with it] with unique platform/body/etc., and “Pontiac’s 60’s line up was all muscle cars”.
Interesting article. I have to chime in on the Mustang II a little. I’ve actually owned two as well as a parts car. My first new car was a blue ’75 Mustang II coupe that we bought to replace our ’67 Mustang coupe. We kept the ’67 for a second car. I drove the II to work for about a week or two and then decided I liked driving the ’67 much better and traded with my wife. It was a nice enough car for the times but I never got attached to it as I tend to do to my vehicles. After a little over 3 years we traded it for the ’79 Malibu I still have and kept the ’67 for another 20 years. The second II we bought was for our two teenage daughters to drive. I have to say that was one tough little car. It was in 3 accidents ( one while parked ) and kept coming back for more. That car made me rethink my lack of respect for the Mustang II.
Today I have a 2009 Mustang and I love the way it looks and drives. Mine is a V6 with manual transmission and handling package. It is a ball to drive. Sizewise it doesn’t look all that large until I park it next to my ’66 Mustang. By the way, I am not a fan of the “Angry Birds Mustang”. I think it looks too much like a Camaro. Now I know what to call them.