The second-gen Ford Mustang was commonly referred to as the Mustang II. Its production run started from 1974 to 1978. Like the first generation, the second-gen Mustangs were assembled at the automaker’s factory in Dearborn Michigan.
The Mustangs were sold in 2-door coupes or 3-door hatchbacks. Two engines were on offer, they were the base 140 cu in, inline-4 which produced 88 hp and 171 cu in, Cologne V-6 rated at 105 hp. In ’73, Ford significantly expanded the dimensions of the Mustang, a fact that didn’t go down well with many enthusiasts who demanded the next Ford Mustang return to the original size.
Overwhelmed by the number of complaints from the buyers, Ford downsized the model which they based on the subcompact Ford Pinto as opposed to the compact Maverick. The new Mustang was 19 inches shorter and weighed 490 pounds less than the 1973 model. The ’74 model was meant to take the Mustang back to its roots.
Though the new design was a huge hit that saw the model sell over 385,993 which was only comparable to the first year of the model’s introduction back in 1964, many buyers were unhappy with the automaker’s decision not to offer the V-8 engine (it was only offered in Mexico).
The second generation Mustang through the years
The 1975 Ford Mustang
Ford listened to consumer complaints and in ’75; the automaker brought back the V-8 engine but the 302-cubic inch 4.94 L, V-8 was not what many enthusiasts hoped for. Unlike the more capable V-8 engines of the previous years, the engine was only good for 140 horses and was offered only with an automatic transmission.
Due to the engine’s almost 5-liter displacement, Ford christened it the “5.0” which made this Mustang the first ever Mustang with an official metric. The 5.0 metric would stay through to the ‘80s and the early ‘90s. It was synonymous with performance power in new generation Mustang models.
To fit the V-8 engine on the small body, the head panel, engine bay and front fenders of the 1975 model were revised. Other changes to the 1975 Ford Mustang included opera windows on its vinyl roof and additional performance options.
The 1976 Ford Mustang
In 1976, Ford released the Mustang Cobra II which was inspired by Shelby. This model was targeted to racing enthusiasts as track racing was fast catching up as the favorite weekend activity for American auto lovers.
The model featured a non-functional hood scoop, front and rear spoilers as well as racing stripes in white and blue or black and gold. However, despite looking the part, the Mustang was not as powerful as the original Shelby Mustang which is what mattered to performance-oriented buyers.
The 1978 Mustang
The most notable addition in 1978 was the King Cobra Mustang. This was a limited edition Ford Mustang. Only 5,000 units were produced. In addition, it was the first Mustang to wear the “5.0” badge. The model was unique in that it featured a Pontiac Trans-Am hood and a prominent air dam.
This package was offered only on V-8 powered Mustangs. Several changes were also made to the Cobra II in both 1978 and 1979. Other features were largely unchanged and this quietly marked the end of the second-generation Ford Mustang.