Vintage Road & Track Comparison: Mustang II V8 vs Monza 2+2 V8 – Battle Of The Pygmy Ponys

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Neither of these Shetland pony cars were originally designed or intended to have V8 engine. The Mustang II, an evolution of the Pinto platform, was designed for its four and the compact 2.8 L Cologne 60° V6. The Monza, basically a re-skinned Vega, was designed to use GM’s rotary engine as well as the Vega four. Things didn’t turn out so well for either in terms of those original intended engines. The Mustang II turned out remarkably porky (almost 500lbs more than the similar Capri, which performed just great with the V6), and performance with the V6 was decidedly lackluster, never mind the four. GM’s rotary (thankfully) never saw the production light of day; we can only imagine how that would have turned out as a follow up to the Vega’s engine disaster.

So small block V8s were shoehorned into both of them. That required some substantial re-working in the Mustang II’s case, and of course only made it heavier, especially in front, which was not destined to do its mediocre handling any favors. The Chevy V8 fit into the Monza, but obviously that wasn’t originally intended, since it required jacking up the engine to gain access to the rear most spark plugs.

So here’s the big showdown of the V8 pigmy ponys. It’s a bit late tonight for me to add any more commentary, but maybe that’s just as well. I always found the packaging, ergonomics (fixed seat back on Mustang, for starters) overall balance and dynamic qualities of these cars woefully lacking, V8 or otherwise. A VW Sirocco was a much better alternative all-round. But these were so adorable…

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