Home » Someone Is Driving Around London In A Perfect Version Of The Worst Mustang

Someone Is Driving Around London In A Perfect Version Of The Worst Mustang

Mustang Ii Ts2
ADVERTISEMENT

My trip to London was more about unplugging, spending time with family, and staring at paintings in museums. I was going to try, with all my might, to not spend as much time as I usually do gawking at cars. I was mostly successful, but I did let my eyes fall upon some unusual piece of rolling metal. The most surprising find? This extremely clean 1970s Mustang II with California plates tucked into a little parking lot near London’s Borough market.Mustang Ii Exterior

I always have these grand plans for exercise when I go on vacation, which often don’t happen because I’m either too busy or too tired from walking so much. About halfway into my trip last week I woke up before the family and thought I’d take advantage of the rare London sunshine to go for a little jog. My plan was to start at the site of the old Globe Theater at the base of Southwark (pronounced suh-thick) Bridge, down the northern bank of the Thames River, across Tower Bridge and back along the south bank.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Fun fact: If you’ve never been to London you might picture London Bridge as the thing with the towers. It is not. London Bridge is a completely nondescript, boring roadway. Tower Bridge is actually the one with the cool towers on it. Don’t feel bad, I didn’t realize this until I got there.

The first part of the jog was quite nice and I enjoyed staring at the HMS Belfast docked in the river as I slowly jogged off the 9,000-calorie British breakfasts I was indulging in every morning. Crossing to the other side of the Tower Bridge I realized that the running path I was on dead-ended at the base of the plain-as-crustless-Wonder-Bread London Bridge.

Undeterred, I tried winding my way through the Bankside neighborhood. I immediately got lost somewhere around the Golden Hinde, which is the ship Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the globe. Seriously, get turned around for like 15 seconds in London and you’re going to randomly bump into something of huge importance to Western Civilization. It was then that I fully got the Eddie Izzard joke about being from Europe “where the history comes from.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Jogging a little further I nearly broke my neck looking back at this:

Mustang Ii License Plate

Yeah, that’s a Mustang II Ghia. In great condition. Parked near the Thames with California plates. What-the-what?!?

For those of you who don’t know, the Ford Mustang II was Ford’s attempt to keep the company’s extremely valuable nameplate alive during the oil crisis and after years of letting the Mustang get big, heavy, and awkward. It’s basically a Pinto underneath, available with either a 2.3-liter inline-four or 2.8-liter V6, initially.

Here’s a great brochure showing off the appeal:

ADVERTISEMENT
Ford Mustang Ii Brochure
Ford Brochure

Given the Pinto bones, most people would agree that the Mustang II is the worst-and-least Mustang to ever Mustang. Much to my surprise, Ford actually sold the Mustang II in Europe. There were even right-hand drive versions built for the UK market. Here’s a British review of a left-hand drive version:

The version I saw, though, couldn’t have been a British market car. For instance, British market cars had a super European turn signal light awkwardly poking out of the nose next to the grille, as seen on this 1978 Mustang II Ghia for sale on Car & Classic:

Mustang Ii Parking Lights
Photo: Car & Classic

There’s even a Facebook Group for UK & EU lovers of the Mustang II. I deeply respect this. So why don’t I think it’s a British car? Obviously, anyone can put American plates on a car in the UK, but this car has both a steering wheel in the correct place (sorry/not sorry) and it doesn’t have the parking light/indicator conversion. It’s possible this is a European version?

It also appears to be optioned all the way up to the Ghia spec, though I’m not sure exactly which year or which motor it has. I’m guessing it’s got the V6. If anyone can look at the clues and let me know I’d appreciate it.

ADVERTISEMENT

Why does a Ghia spec exist? Well, Italian coachbuilder Ghia designed the body and Ford thought the Ghia name would give it that extra little bit of European flair. Here’s what you got with a Ghia package:

Mustang Ii Ghia Brochure
Ford Brochure

That’s right, it comes with a digital clock, Westminster cloth or Media velour trim, BSW steel-belted radials, and “elegance that can evaporate boredom instantly.” No one can top 1970s copywriters for pure cocaine-fueled optimism.

This owner selected the vinyl and it looks fantastic.

Mustang Ii Interior

If anyone has any details on what the hell this is and how it got there I’d love to know more.

ADVERTISEMENT

Popular Stories

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
70 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
11 months ago

How do you get 9000 calories out of flavorless beans on toast?

Jb996
Jb996
11 months ago

Regarding 1970s copy editing:
“Top-of-the-line Ghia. Drive it soon at your Ford Dealer’s.”

My Ford Dealer’s what? I need to know!

XXLTall
XXLTall
11 months ago

Did you see Jaclyn Smith in London? If you also see a Cobra II then you know Cheryl Lad is in town also and the Angels are on a mission. Sorry I forgot what Kate Jackson drove.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
11 months ago
Reply to  XXLTall

Sabrina drove a Pinto.

Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
11 months ago

That velour is ????

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
11 months ago

The Mustang II was NOT an attempt to keep the name alive during the oil crisis. The MII went into production and was on sale before the oil embargo in Nov 73. Ford just got really, really lucky that gas prices spiked which made any car with a 4cyl highly desirable.

It was a reaction to the insurance industry’s assault on high performance vehicles and looming emission controls, which were the primary industry concerns when the car was conceived. It was also meant to be a return to the Mustang’s roots by being based on the recently introduced new smaller Ford.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
11 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

Not only in the US but Australia as well. In 1972, the Australian insurance carriers threatened to deny the coverage for the street version of Bathurst cars or to increase the premium to the exorbitant level. This photo in the car magazine was the trigger point.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
11 months ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

Wow, that picture! Just nonchalantly cruising along with the 140 mph speedo buried, with the engine wound out to 6600 RPM. Love it.

Steve Harris
Steve Harris
11 months ago

It’s a 2.8l from 1979, looks like it was only recently imported (V5 date is 2020). You can see some details by typing the reg into the MOT checker https://vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk/

BTW, the correct pronunciation is closer to suh-thuck. I lived round the corner from there for 15 years.

R53forfun
R53forfun
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Harris

Fascinating! TIL that you can evidently get “California” vanity plates in the UK! That is bizarre but I love it.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
11 months ago
Reply to  R53forfun

The plate is also age related – the V at the end signals the date of registration (August 1st 1979 – July 31st 1980).

James Brown
James Brown
11 months ago
Reply to  R53forfun

The registration plates (UK registration stamped on a California-style plate) are not legal. But with some old-fasioned goodwill from the Police, I doubt the owner will get into too much trouble.

Guillaume Maurice
Guillaume Maurice
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Harris

I thought the numbers/letters too Brittish to be a real californian plate.
And after spending a year on the UK side of the Chunnel I know there’s a lot more flexibility when it comes to licence plates ( as long as you have the money for it ) and vanity plate than in France. ( where you have basically 3 options : regular plastic plate with the F on one side and the region on the other, regular plastic plate without either, embossed aluminium plate without the F and the region stuff… Everything else is lllegal and worth a fine [ and you’ll have to show your car with legal plates within 7 days or so ] )

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
11 months ago

Despite appearances, Mustang IIs are actually not crap and being Pinto-based is not a bad thing. Fiery reputation aside (which doesn’t apply to the Mustang anyway), they handled fantastically well for their era (to the point where Mustang II front suspension is a golden standard for hot rod and muscle car builds to this day, with a robust aftermarket), the four-cylinder was a great engine, and with the V6 and later V8 options they were making about the same HP that the original Mustang did. Basically, the idea was to return to the Mustang’s humble roots, and the public ate it up, people forget today that the Mustang II was actually a huge success from a sales standpoint.

Granted, their styling has aged like a fine milk and they are very much of their era, but not actually a bad car from a driving or mechanical perspective. In fact, I would argue that with the exception of the styling, the Mustang II is actually better than the original Mustang.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

Here’s an interesting bit of synchronicity.

Ford Executive Stylist John Najjar, who was a fan of the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane, is credited by Ford with suggesting the Mustang name. Najjar co-designed the first prototype of the Ford Mustang known as the “Ford Mustang I” in 1961, working jointly with fellow Ford stylist Philip T. Clark.

The early, Allison-engined P-51s first saw combat with the RAF through the Lend-Lease program. These planes had been nicknamed Apache (a name retained for the A-36 dive bomber versions of the P-51) by the USAAF.

RAF pilots loved most everything about the plane except for its rear blind spot canopy (similar to the P-40) and the Allison engine’s sluggish performance at altitude. So they modified them with a Malcom bubble canopy (like the Spitfire’s) and swapped out the Allisons with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine, also from the Spitfire. The RAF dubbed their modified mounts “Mustang.” A legend was born.

Back in the US, reports of the modified British P-51s performance so impressed the Army and North American (the manufacturer) that when the Brits ordered more P-51s built to their specifications, it was quickly agreed upon. War-taxed British manufacturers could not meet the Mustang production line demands for the Merlin engine that was used in so many of their other frontline fighters and bombers, so the American auto company Packard was licensed to also produce the engines.

The newly improved P-51 was adopted by the US, as was the British nickname, Mustang.

Consequently, without the British, the P-51 would not have become the dominant air superiority fighter of the war and gone on to serve with renown. Nor would it even have been called the Mustang and Ford’s John Naijjar would never have suggested it as the name for Lee Iacocca’s little two-door “secretaries car.”

Pretty appropriate to find a Mustang in London, I’d say.

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
11 months ago

Is this less Mustang than the current electric thing?

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
11 months ago
Reply to  Pisco Sour

No. I don’t give a shit how much faster, more reliable, more comfortable, more feature-rich, etc. the Mach-e is than a II.

Mustang IIs are craptastic Mustangs.
4-door CUVs are not Mustangs.

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
11 months ago

The CUV thing hurts my soul so badly. I mean, just call it a Mach-E (pronounced “mocky”) and call it a day, why Ford had to sully the horse badge I have no idea.

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison
11 months ago

Just came back from Bavaria and I passed a PT Cruiser on the Autobahn. Those were crap here and I cannot fathom why anyone would go through the pain of bringing one to Germany.

Steve Harris
Steve Harris
11 months ago
Reply to  Scott Morrison

They were sold new in Europe. Not very popular though.

Brammachu
Brammachu
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Harris

Im German. Growing up i saw someone on my street own a PT Cruiser, and after that a 1st Gen Nissan Juke. Now he drives a 2nd Gen Juke. Guy has interesting taste for sure

Joshua Christian
Joshua Christian
11 months ago
Reply to  Brammachu

Honestly though, good for him! He knows what he likes haha

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

Yo Matt how about doing journalism 101? Investigation! A few decades back a rich American bought the London Bridge and had it shipped over brick by brick. It is now a tourist attraction in Lake Havasu AZ proud home of Piranha 3.

AlienProbe
AlienProbe
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

This is a site about cars not bridges. So Matt gets a pass journalistic half assery as long as it’s not car related.

Fawgcutter
Fawgcutter
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

The one at Lake Havasu is the second stone bridge. Another bridge replaced it in 1973 after Robert McCulloch purchased the second one. The first stone one was falling apart (hence the song, “London Bridge is Falling Down”), as it survived the Great London Fire and 600 years of service when the British replaced it with the second one. So Matt’s writing about the third one, and since they are located in the same relative location, they’re all called “London Bridge,” at least to the local populace. (I found out about that when I visited London.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Bridge

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

Announcer impressive switching from British to US to European. How any of our crap was equal to Jaguar, BMW, ROLLS is amazing. BUT if a two story bus can work you can fit a Caddy or Lincoln and show i am better than you.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

<insert confused puppy gif>

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Dave Horchak? Is this your third name change (after TacoTruck Dave)? I know you love the Jensen Interceptor, though, so it makes sense. No amount of name changing can cover up that Horchak brilliance!

Angel "the Cobra" Martin
Angel "the Cobra" Martin
11 months ago

Matt, how the hell can you call yourself a car nerd and not camp out until the owner shows up. Show some initiative.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

Or leave a note.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago

They weren’t bad cars, they were just bad mustangs. The fact that someone brought this thing over to the UK is somewhat baffling, but when I lived in London there were some other American cars that also made me scratch my head. I remember seeing a Ford Windstar in the UK (LHD) and thought wwwwhhhyyyyyy??

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
11 months ago

There is and has been for a long time, a pretty large US armed forces contingent in the UK and my understanding is they can get a car shipped for free.
Which they then use to seduce us like they used to do with chocolate bars and nylons.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

ah… yep, that makes sense.

James Brown
James Brown
11 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

And for that absurd expenditure (the cars sometimes cross the Atlantic by air, inside a C-130), we in Europe thank the US taxpayer.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
11 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

That sounds like the voice of experience?

Deathspeed
Deathspeed
11 months ago

Despite the Pinto underpinnings, I have always loved the look of these notchback coupes (the fastbacks, eh, not so much). And they got back to the spirit of the original Mustang – a stylish body on compact car underpinnings. I think people forget the original started as a tarted-up Falcon.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Deathspeed

You are just so wrong, please do not reproduce!

Deathspeed
Deathspeed
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

lol too late!!

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
11 months ago
Reply to  Deathspeed

This is true, and Pinto underpinnings actually benefitted it because what everyone forgets about the Pinto was that it was actually a really good handling car. In fact, Mustang II front suspension is a gold standard for street rod and muscle car builds to this day. In many ways the Mustang II was a better-driving car than the original, and with the later V8 options was just as fast.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
11 months ago
Reply to  Deathspeed

I tend to agree. As a young-un, I thought the Mustang II was an offense against nature, but it’s grown on me over the years. Perhaps its degrading eyesight and rampant nostalgia, but I’m starting to think they look pretty good. The Cobra 2 version, especially.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
11 months ago

The Mustang II isn’t all bad by any means. The front suspensions have been donated to many a hot rod, and the 2.3 is a perfectly fine engine to put in a cheap LoCost kit build (a good friend has one). In the end, it’s 70s crap but there was much worse 70s crap out there. I actually think the body style has aged reasonably well.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
11 months ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

Right car at the right time. A lot of people overlook that but it sold and sold.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

True, and this applies to lots of cars. GM sold over a million diesels that ruined diesels in the U.S. and over a million Morris Marinas were made, even though plenty of jokes have been made about those.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
11 months ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

Shit the 2.0 and 2.3’s have been raced in everything from circle track, drag racing, open wheel racing, to WRC.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
11 months ago

Ok, can we talk about the Cranberry Media Velour interior showcased in that brochure? If I’m reading it right, Cranberry Media is the actual color, as it says Medium Blue or Tan were your other Velour options.
.…..
Crap; now I’m hearing ‘velour’ in Ricardo Montalbán’s voice—a sure sign I need to stop

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago

For what it’s worth, this looks to the be the Jaclyn Smith-spec model that Kelly drove in Charlie’s Angels. Same colorways at least.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

No which pic? Everyone here is different none matched Kellys Mustang 2+2.

Robert L
Robert L
11 months ago

If you’re walking so much that you’re tired then you don’t really need to worry about exercise. That’s the beauty of walking.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Robert L

Also they say it is the thought that counts. I think about exercising all the time, it doesnt help.

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
11 months ago

It’s the digital clock that’s super novel in the UK. A clock without proper hands is an affront to the king.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
11 months ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

Did the kids tease you with scathing versions of Sid Bridge is Falling Down?

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
11 months ago

The one you spotted has extra indictors inboard of the main ones on the grill. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Euro spec indictors moved around over the years, so it might be an original Euro car.

LTDScott
LTDScott
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

If that was the case it’d be badged as a T5, not a Mustang II.

https://www.torquenews.com/106/ford-details-german-ford-mustang-never-wore-mustang-name

Anthony Henderson
Anthony Henderson
11 months ago

Not a V8 car. Those had call-out badges on the front fenders. Nice color combo and condition!

Buzz
Buzz
11 months ago

Jay Foreman has some hilarious and informative content related to London architecture, if you want to learn more about Tower Bridge (or maps)

https://youtu.be/szUjnEZcp68

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
11 months ago

London Bridge is actually in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It was taken apart piece by piece and shipped and they put it back together. Pieces are still numbered

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

The story goes that the real estate developer who built Lake Havasu City thought he was buying Tower Bridge.

London Bridge has fallen down enough times to get a song about it. When it was moved to Arizona, it was time for its periodic replacement.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree
JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
11 months ago

Beat me to it!! That is the one the song was about- the new one is a late-1900s knock off.

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
11 months ago

The song was about the first full stone bridge, the one in Arizona was the second.

Rob Rex
Rob Rex
11 months ago

The plate isn’t a real California plate, it’s a UK plate remade in a UK style.

LTDScott
LTDScott
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob Rex

My understanding of these plates is that they’re technically not legal but the rozzers over there don’t care.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
11 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Yep. About as legal as a £7 note, but the police and MOT testers don’t care. They don’t really mind red turn signals on older American cars either.

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
11 months ago
Reply to  Rob Rex

It’s interesting that they chose the special “arts” plate for their custom/fake plate This Iconic California License Plate Has A Very Creative History | LAist

Beached Wail
Beached Wail
11 months ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

Note that the Arts Council plate in California is limited to a range of 2-6 characters (numbers/letters). So not only is the Mustang sporting a fake California plate, but its 7 characters would never be issued in California. I guess it’s kind of equivalent to US drivers who put fake EU plates on the front of their cars with bogus personalizations, except that in this case it’s the actual number plate for the car. Unexpected in England!

70
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x