Home » Meet The Man Who Brought The Only Mustang II Out Of Over A Thousand Mustangs At The Mustang 60th Anniversary Event

Meet The Man Who Brought The Only Mustang II Out Of Over A Thousand Mustangs At The Mustang 60th Anniversary Event

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Anytime I end up at some Gathering of the Mustangs, be it at a small Cars & Coffee gathering or a massive thing like the huge 60th Anniversary Event, or something in between, like that book club that does all its reading in the back seats of Mustangs, there’s a little game I like to play. I like to see if any of those Mustang-lovers have the guts or boldness to bring a genuine, honest Mustang II out to show the good peoples of the world. Most of the time, the answer is no, there are no examples of the least-loved Mustang of them all. That was almost the case at the Mustang 60th Anniversary event Ford held in Charlotte, NC yesterday. Almost, but not quite. Because there was one, solitary example of a Mustang II, a nearly immaculate and perfectly restored one, brought there by one brave person, a bold defender of the underdog, the unloved, the unfairly disregarded.

I was told there were 1,000 Mustangs brought to the 60th bash, and while I didn’t count them myself, that seems about right. There were a lot of Mustangs there. And while I didn’t get a chance to inspect every single one, from both what I saw with my own eyes and from other eyewitnesses reports, there were roughly 0.0 other Mustang IIs in attendance.

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That’s pretty astounding, when you think about it; 1/1000th of the represented Mustangs were from the entire second generation of cars, and over a million of those were sold. To Ford’s credit, they don’t try and pretend the Mustang IIs never existed, like, it seems, most of the attendees do. Ford arranged to display the Mustang II, complete with a nice, big printed sign, in their lineup of Mustangs from over the years.

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So, clearly, Ford isn’t ashamed of the Mustang II, and, really, they shouldn’t be. I mean, you have to understand the overall Malaise-context of the automotive world at the time, but in that context, in that world of new emissions regulations and high gas prices and pervasive attitudes to quality control that had all the rigor of crabgrass, the Mustang II was really no worse than so many other cars of the era.

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And it had its charms, too! The four-banger Pinto engine many of these got was actually an excellent little powerplant, and the design had a number of forward-looking features, like those body-colored, energy-absorbing bumpers. It was also the first American car to have amber rear turn indicators!

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The Mustang II pulled the Mustang through the hardest years for muscle cars; it was the lifeboat that kept the Mustang name relevant during those dark times of smog pumps and primitive early catalytic converters and gas lines. Really, who knows if the Mustang would have survived the ’70s without the humble Mustang II keeping the embers glowing?

That’s why this prosthetic-limb-colored example was such a treat to see at this event, and especially one in such immaculate condition. Car collector and restorer Mike Williams was responsible for this one, which may very well be among the finest – if not the finest – Mustang II Ghia on the planet. I asked Mike some questions about this remarkable and yet still unloved car:

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The car is full of period details that set the mood and stage of its era: the 8-track player in the dash that still works, the half-vinyl roof that was the hallmark of the Ghia edition, and those wire wheels, a reminder of Ford’s cost-cutting and parts-sharing, as those are right off a Ford LTD:

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Those three cats were a strange Ford hallmark for years, referencing, of all things, the English king Richard the Lionheart. Ford was so weird about heraldic crests for decades. The rest of the Mustang II badging is less feline-focused, but was still 70s-classy, with a distinguished serif typeface calling out the Mustang name.

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The Mustang II was also the only mustang where the generation number was an actual part of the name; this is a Mustang II, with the Roman numerals forming part of the name. They also formed the basis for the only standing hood ornament Mustangs used, too:

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Mustang2 Hoodornament

Look at that! It looks like a little horse breeding trophy, or something. It’s a very architectural element to the car.

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I remember when the Petersen Museum did some Mustang event a few years back, and in talking to the curator, I learned that the Mustang II was the hardest car for them to source for the exhibit, simply because hardly anyone was preserving or restoring Mustang IIs.

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I think that’s why this car, and its very kind owner, made such an impression on me. Anyone can appreciate a first-year Mustang or a ’67 fastback or a Mach I or a perfect Mustang SVO, but to be the one to lavish so much care and attention over the one Mustang that most Mustang owners like to pretend never even happened, well, that is something truly worthy of respect.

So, everyone, please take a moment to reflect on this rarest Mustang at the 60th Anniversary event, the one-out-of-1000 Mustangs, this pristine 1975 Mustang II, with a V8, even.

 

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Meet Our Second Anniversary Car, The Mustang II!: Cold Start

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Alec Weinstein
Alec Weinstein
1 month ago

As the guy who bought the II from the Petersen exhibit, it got *so* much love and so many stories, with people walking by other cars to see it. Would recommend.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 month ago

The 71-72 Mustangs were pretty hideous. Just awful. Big barges.

Mustang IIs may be scarce but their front suspension is everywhere.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 month ago

I find it mind boggling that these are still so deeply unloved 50 years on. I totally get that they compared unfavourably to their predecessor at the time, but at this point they’re almost as special due to how rare they’ve become, even if certainly less iconic than any first gen.

One great thing of unloved classics is that no matter how shitty they were in their time – or more likely because of it – they became a part of automotive history almost as much as great cars and are still debated today. Shitty cars of yesterday can be someone’s dream car today. Hat tip to everyone preserving Mustang IIs, Yugos, Pintos, Ladas, Omnis, Trabants, Fieros, Dustbusters, Citations, Alliances and whatnot.

M. Park Hunter
M. Park Hunter
1 month ago

I used to daily a low-miles ‘79 Pinto Country Squire wagon in the mid 1990s. It featured rack and pinion, disc brakes, the 2.3L four, and a four-speed. Plaid buckets in front and wood graining on the side. Can confirm it was a surprisingly delightful car to drive, slow-car-fast style. Fun fact: I thought the cruise control didn’t work at first. Nope, it was just limited and wouldn’t take a set above 57mph. Happy double-nickle, Malaise Era!

10001010
10001010
1 month ago
Reply to  M. Park Hunter

My Subaru won’t let me set the cruise above 90mph, it’s frustrating some times but I guess it wants me to be more involved at the higher velocities.

Russell Thornburg
Russell Thornburg
1 month ago

Kudos to him for showing his gorgeous sampling of that generation Mustang. Each and every car designed and made is significant to someone. I love Chrysler LHS/New Yorker/Concorde/Vision/Intrepid of the first LH generation. Not many other people out there like me, I’m sure. So thanks to Mr. Mustang II for showing you love for that model!

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
1 month ago

The interiors of the LHS (Large Heavy Sedan) were limo worthy in spaciousness, but what other car required discharging the AC & removing the condenser to change the water pump?

Dan Manwich
Dan Manwich
1 month ago

Did anyone show up in a perfect Mach E?

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan Manwich

Someone tried but Ford didn’t let them in because even they know it’s not a real Mustang. 😉

Anthony Henderson
Anthony Henderson
1 month ago

My first, and one of my most recent cars were both 1976 Cobra IIs, both black with gold stripes and V8s. Guess which one brought over 25K at Mecum? This Ghia is to be respected as the time capsule it is!

Ricki
Ricki
1 month ago

Honestly the only thing I really disliked about this vintage Mustang was the Ghia styling. A regular hardtop notchback, removing the beltline trim, and better wheels/hubcaps would have gone a long way to making it still feel muscular. The cool uncle car instead of the weird and a little creepy uncle car.

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
1 month ago

I owned one the summer of 1987, I think it was a 1974. It had seen a pretty hard life in no small part due to the roads and salt of Cleveland.

The previous owner was a large man, and the car listed to the left. He had “repaired” the rusted fenders by riveting on flattened coffee cans (I shit you not).

All in all, it was quite the beater, but a fun little thing with the four speed and the 2.3 Pinto engine.

D8Mach
D8Mach
1 month ago

At least the II isn’t a Vega

D8Mach
D8Mach
1 month ago

I got my first II in February of ’78 intending to trade it in when the vastly superior ’79 came out. I go to the dealer in September and can’t find that more Mustangy Mustang than my II. I’m standing next to this thing with 4 eyes, no C and slabs of red for tail lights. Not to mention how it looked like it was designed with a protractor and straight edge.
Salesman chuckled when he told me I was standing next to it.
A “Mustang” based on Grandpa’s grocery getting LTD II. Came with a massive 260 V8. Turns out the back half was so flimsy Ford had to install slapper bars on the axle.
I have to hand it to Ford marketing , they sure had the public BSed.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 month ago

Also let’s not forget that the Mustang II has earned a bona-fide spot in the hot rodding hall of fame, for its front suspension design. The entire front subframe contains the front suspension and steering (rack-and-pinion, by the way) and disc brakes as one unit, easily transplantable to any number of street rods. Mustang II front ends are still used to this day in street rod builds.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago

That is simply brougham-tacular.

(And still far, far more of a Mustang than the Mach-E ever will be.)

Spectre6000
Spectre6000
1 month ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

The Mach-E is the single most cynical marketing exercise ever…. Even Toyota’s sticker and Pep Boys hood scoop department doffed their chapeaus to Ford over that one.

Last edited 1 month ago by Spectre6000
Rockymountainhigh
Rockymountainhigh
1 month ago

Local HS in my old neighborhood…all new cars: a lot of Bmw’s. A few Hondas. Sh*t ton of Wranglers. Bunches of SUV’s . All brand new. And this one kid in the white Mustang II Cobra, with the blue stripes, parked on the end. It looked so cool in the sea of all new cars.

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
1 month ago

He’s the embodiment of my plan to come to a Corvette Club event with a nice example of the worst Corvette.
Bravo!!

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Ok so which is it? Cross fire, either an 82 or 84? Or a mid-70s?

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Love it. Even the Mustang SVO has only recently started to get decent approval I feel like. I’ve looked for Mustang IIs a couple times and yeah there are often practically none for sale.

Tim Cushing
Tim Cushing
1 month ago

who needs Mopar when you can go Mad Catz

Mike TowpathTraveler
Mike TowpathTraveler
1 month ago

Unless you were around then, the 2024 mind can’t comprehend the gas oil crisis of that era; the long lines of waiting cars, later on, the Odd/Even license plates that determined whether you could buy a drink of gas that day. Or not. In that context, the Mustang II made perfect sense. And that is why it sold so well.

I love ’em. It’s sad to see so very few of them around, sad to see the aftermarket never took to making parts for them. And yeah, I’d not mind at all, having a white or blue Cobra II, with the spoilers, louvers and Shelby stripes. Later in the 70’s, Chevy came out with the fastback Monza to counter the II. The peformance tape striped Spyder did showroom face-off’s against the Cobra II. Chevy upped the game with the Monza Mirage, which featured taped-on plastic wide body panels that mimic’d the IMSA race series Chevy Monza DeKon racer….

The Dude
The Dude
1 month ago

I wasn’t around yet at that time, but I could only imagine the uproar in today’s political climate if people had to ration gas like that or the rationing in place during WW2.

Jb996
Jb996
1 month ago
Reply to  The Dude

But we’ve already seen exactly what would happen.
In Covid, people were asked to sacrifice just a little bit, to ration their presence (keep distance), and to ration their comfort (wear a mask). Those are pretty minor things compared to tangibles like food and gas.
And we saw exactly what happened. Denials of reality, unmitigated anger towards those who did ration, refusals to cooperate, a whole political platform rose up based on selfishness and not caring about anyone else, etc.
So yeah…

The Dude
The Dude
1 month ago
Reply to  Jb996

Good point. I didn’t even think about that because wearing a mask was so inconsequential. And I wear glasses so it’s more annoying (but not really) than for those who don’t have glasses.

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
1 month ago

My F.I.L. Traded his Colony Park wagon for a Mustang II fastback w/ the Cologne V6. Is was sorta peppy. He paid an upholstery shop to split the rear seat so that he could fold down 1/2 and still carry a (very short) passenger in the other seat.

Eric Kam
Eric Kam
1 month ago

I love how everyone tries to pretend the Mustang II never even happened. Just like how the Mach E isn’t being sold right now. The Mustang II front end is in more GM vehicles and foreign cars than total Mustang II sales. Lol. So at least it has that going for it.
A guy around me has had a Mustang II King Cobra for years. A red w\black stripes one. It’s hopped up a good bit from stock but nothing to write home about. The same motor in this guy’s off white Mustang II is what’s in that guy’s King Cobra.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 month ago

I never realized what a sweet hood ornament these have! My only personal memory of a Mustang II is being stuck in one cross-ways bridging a ditch along a gravel road – the bumpers were touching the ground, but the wheels weren’t. A buddy had transplanted a 302 from a later Fox-body into one and then proceeded to see just how much of a beating the car could take. We ended up in our somewhat precarious position after he lost control while trying to get the car on two wheels. We finally walked several miles back to his place to grab a truck and a log-chain. Fun afternoon!

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 month ago

I’m more curious if anyone had the stones to show up in a Mustang Mach E.

BexleySpeed
BexleySpeed
1 month ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

I can’t believe it took me so long reading these comments, and the second mention of the MachE, before I could remember what it was. Goes to show how far away it is inside my brain.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Crap crap crap. The Mustang II wasn’t Mustang it was a Pinto. Now if Kate Jackson shows up playing Sabrina Duncan, really hot Charlie’s Angel, I appreciate the Mare, because it ain’t a Mustang. Originally the Mustang was designed as a secretary car. Sure it exploded as a pony car but as a 70s Pinto it was once again a secretary car and a Pinto.
Fight me on this I dare you.

D8Mach
D8Mach
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Fight about what?
79 on was based on the fairmont\ Ltd II\ Zephyr. Grandpa’s Grocery getters. Manly cars, right?

Anthony Henderson
Anthony Henderson
1 month ago
Reply to  D8Mach

…and the 64.5 was based on Grandma’s Falcon. Don’t forget, you could get a Ghia in the Fox body, too!

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

OK, I’ll bite…

The Mustang II was a clean-sheet design, based on some of the 1970-73 Pinto’s engineering, btu sharing very few parts. In 1974, the Pinto was revised to use the new Mustang II-style suspension, but the entire unibody and subframe are different, and almost nothing apart from the engine/transmission/rear end and some interior pieces are directly interchangeable. There’s more Fairmont in the Fox-body Mustangs than there is Pinto in the Mustang II.

(I found all this info in about five minutes of research, by the way; it’s not secret.)

Also, why is calling it a “Pinto” an insult? Ford made some stupid decisions when it came to the Pinto, mainly how it dealt with the backlash from the accidents, but it was really no better or worse than any other small car at the time. And it has provided lots of cheap fun for lots of folks over the years, as a small, lightweight, easily-modifiable, rear-wheel-drive car. What’s wrong with that?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Because it’s ugly and it’s mother dresses it funny.

Steve F
Steve F
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

The Mustang II is closer to the original 64-66 Mustang than the muscle car Mustangs that sold between 1967 and 1973 – it shared core engineering with an economy car but had sportier styling, most came with a boring base engine and soft suspension abut more powerful (for the era) engines and better suspensions were available. They were sporty looking cars aimed at secretaries and recent high school grads, not rip roaring muscle cars or Euro sports car hunters.

Not only was the Mustang II the right car for the time, it did all the same things the original Mustang did so well and sold great because of it. We just look back on it with disdain because it’s immediate predecessors were faster and cooler, but honestly they drifted pretty far from the core tenants of the original Mustang, and sales at the time reflected that.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve F

Great arguments Steve. I accept your facts and retract my comments as being not as correct as yours are.

Taxi maniac
Taxi maniac
1 month ago

Prosthetic limb colored is greatest adjective ever

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