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Angels and Devils: The Best (and Worst) Mustangs Ever – Part 2

Posted in Bizarre, Cars, Classic, Design, Detroit, Ford, Gas Prices, General, Horsepower, muscle cars, Mustang, Oil Industry, Old Cars, Pictures, Sports Cars by Geoff | May 19th, 2009 | 15 Responses |

1974 Mustang II Ghia

Ford hasn’t always been the bold leader of sound automotive judgement that it is today. Though in fairness, most of the god-awful Mustangs listed below were the result of fuel shortages and government regulations, and actually many were sales successes initially. Taking a more zen-like approach let’s remember that without evil or ugliness in the world, true beauty and goodness may not exist either. Nevertheless, to quote Sealab’s Dr. Quinn, “Mistakes were made.” Mistakes indeed. As promised, in Part 2 of a look back at some of the best and worst Mustangs, here are five versions of the ‘Stag that we wish never existed. And actually when WAS the last time you saw a Mustang II on the road?

1993 Mustang LX

1993 Mustang LX

1993 Mustang LX

The performance discrepancy between engine choices was pretty wide in 1993, and even at the top end things were still pretty bleak. Even after Ford formed a Special Vehicle Team (SVT) in 1991 to create high-performance cars, the results for the 1993 Mustang SVT Cobra and Cobra R were at best 235 horses. Only after Ford got rid of the aging 5.0 in 1996 would a Mustang be built that created more than 300 hp. On the bottom end, the ’93 LX came with a pitiful 105 hp 4-banger that is somehow befitting the bug-eyed visage (dare I say Ford Tempo-esque) and uninspired body style that it is wrapped in. Base price for a ’93 Mustang; $11,159.

1979 Mustang Coupe

1979 Mustang; beautiful blind spots go on.....

1979 Mustang; beautiful blind spots go on.....

Inexplicably, for only the second time in it’s history, the Mustang was named the official pace car for the Indy 500 in 1979. Actually, this is a pretty good indication of how bad American car making then, because top-to-bottom, the engine choices offered in Mustangs that year are some of the most anemic of all time. At the bottom end was a six-cylinder that actually produced LESS giddy-up (85 hp) than the base four-cylinder (88 hp). At the top end, the 5.0 V8 wheezed its way to only 140 horses. Surely every one of them was needed to pace Indy. Something caught on at Ford though as the Fox platform first introduced with the 1979 would be used for nearly 25 years. Despite its shortcomings standard ’79 Mustangs sold more than 150,000 units and came in with a base price of $4,494.

1973 Mustang Grande

1973 Mustang Grande

1973 Mustang Grande

Mustang had definitely slid by 1973 with a base V6 engine that was only capable of 99 horsepower. The top-of-the line Cobra Jet was still able to produce 266 horses at this point, but its days were also numbered. The “Grande” line of Mustangs (the last year of which was in ’73) was meant to attract customers by adding luxury, not exactly first on most typical Mustang lover’s wish list. The definition of this luxury was a vinyl roof, pinstripes, wire wheel covers, a special “luxury” cloth and vinyl interior, unique rear spring bushings to provide a quieter ride and an electric clock……wow. It actually worked, selling 25,274 in its final year with a base price of each Grande at $2,946.

1984 Mustangs…all of them

1984 Convertible....in white

1984 Convertible....in white

A bright spot for the Mustang in 1984 was the beginning of many wonderful years of collaboration with Steve Saleen. Unfortunately, even in 1984 the Saleen Mustang suffered like all Mustangs from a dirth of performance and a maximum output of 175 horsepower….in the SVO version mind you. Not surprisingly, Saleen began engine modifications the following year. The base engine in 1984 was a pathetic 88 hp four-cylinder. In their defense, Ford was attempting to produce a lighter, quicker vehicle that could compete with European sports cars by utilizing (as one engine choice), a turbocharged four-cylinder capable of 145 hp. Obviously, the absence of 1984 Mustangs on the road today is an indictment of that failed attempt. Could it be that Mustang purists are having a flashback to ’84 when they protest a future turbocharged V6 replacing the V8? One could hardly blame them. On the outside, the ’84 Mustangs featured the always popular “Logan’s Run”/cheese grater grill and saggy plastic bumpers that are the automotive equivelent of a wet diaper. Even by today’s standards, the base price ($7,089) of this turd seems steep.

1974 Mustang II

1974 Ford Mustang II

1974 Ford Mustang II

Finally, this examination draws to a close with far and away the most maligned Mustang of all time; the Mustang II, first rolled out in 1974. Don’t blame Ford, blame the public, because the Mustang II was a sales hit with nearly triple the numbers sold over the previous year. Motor Trend even named it car of the year. Equal blame for the Mustang II has to be shared with the oil industry and the nations that created the fuel crisis as that was the real impetus behind its design, which included sharing parts with another punchline model, the Pinto. Engine choices in ’74 were between a 4-cylinder making 88 horses and a V6 worth a paltry 105 hp. That’s right. No V8 option. Though as you can see, many years the V8 wasn’t capable of much more anyway. Unless one of Charlie’s Angels came with it, the Mustang II was by far the ugliest ‘Stang of all time. Base price in 1974 of a coupe was $3,134.

Did we miss one or get it wrong? Let us know what you think.

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15 Responses

  1. Alex says:

    The Mustang II was not a bad looking car, and if you got it in Cobra or King Cobra packages, it boosted the horsepower considerably. My dad owned a 1976 Ford Mustang Cobra II, i think for its looks it belongs in the top list. And sales don’t lie my friend :)

  2. muscle says:

    The 76 with the 302 was faster than the 60’s mustangs with small blocks. Throw in a big inch motor on that pinto sized platform and you got the ultimate sleeper!

  3. ugly says:

    Mustang II = U. G. L. Y. it ain’t go no alibi IT’S UGLY. Yea Yea IT’S UGLY.

    Very, Very funny how at the same very same time that Mustang was making some of the biggest, ugliest cars in history, the U.S. saw it’s first wave of small, economical Japanese cars. For some reason they decided to put the fuel saving Japanese cars in the front of the showroom and hide the Mustangs in the very back. Conspiracy? No, those things don’t exist remember?

    There is no possible way that a company like Ford could not know what they were doing. There is always some kind of serious scandal going down with the big 3 at any given time of the day.

    Thank god they have at least been bringing some kind of style back into the ring again with Mustang’s made in the last few years.

  4. nighthawk says:

    I had a Mustang II Cobra II in Black + Gold..302, Auto,Air, great highway cruiser and esy to park in the city. Drove from CT to NYC weekly and Pennsylvania occasionally.. great little car with lots od power for its size.

  5. Dave says:

    I’ve owned a 65, 70, and 71 mustang. And have ridden around alot in the 79 and up ones. The coolest mustang except for the newest ones was my 71 mach 1. i always thought it looked cool, the coupes for 71-73 not at all. Shape wise the mach 1 was very similar to the camaro’s of the 70’s, so why don’t they get any love. I’ll tell you why, because they never put a 460 with a 4 speed in any of them.

  6. arto says:

    I need to go buy me a ’74 Mustang II, I am so loving how laid back it looks

  7. Ken D says:

    THe 1968 Ford Mustang used in “bullit” will always be the best Mustang
    ever. It has history and every guy dreams of having had that chase
    with the Dodge Charger, and winning. In real life, I don’t know who would’ve won. Anyone out there know?

  8. Guess you don’t need to do any RESEARCH before vomiting a “car list” blog, huh? ANY car is a product of it’s time and what is desirable THEN. Cars from 25-35 years ago cannot be compared to cars now. You couldn’t get 300 hp in ANYTHING in 1974, or 1984.
    The Mustang II was not a knee-jerk reaction to the oil crisis. How long do you think it takes to design and produce a car? Weeks? Are you really that stupid? It takes YEARS. The Mustang II development started in 1969. People wanted the car smaller like the original, not the boat-on-wheels 1971-73 version. It was designed to look like the originial, which it does more so than any other mustang from 1969-2004. So to call the Mustang II ugly is also calling the 1965-68 and 2005-11 models ugly too as they have the same styling cues. No Mustang has sold more than the 1974 between 1968-2010. With no V8, which returned in 1975.
    I own 2 Mustang II’s and have won 53 car show awards between them, and always get positive comments from people who see it.

  9. romeo carlo says:

    hey! i’m restoring my Mustang II 140cid 2.3L 4 cylinder, i’m from Philippines.

    i’m planning to change my my engine to v6 or v8 is that possible. please help me. you can email me @ lopez_romeocarlo@yahoo.com

  10. romeo carlo says:

    hey! i’m restoring my Mustang II 140cid 2.3L 4 cylinder, i’m from Philippines.

    i’m planning to change my my engine to v6 or v8 is that possible. please help me. you can email me @ lopez_romeocarlo@yahoo.com

  11. Al says:

    Spot on. The mustang II is an abomination and an embarrassment to automotive history. Even suggesting they rsemble a 65′ is pure sacrilege. I don’t care how many they sold.

  12. nik says:

    actually, u only got 1 thing wrong. the ‘stang 2 was actually better (by looks anyway) by far than any 80’s ‘stang, and looked better than most cars the morons in asia think look good

  13. Terry says:

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My Mustang II got 4 awards this summer in car shows and is on the road every weekend.

  14. Kirkland says:

    Why bash the 84? I have a soft spot for that year. I bought a 1984 Mustang when I was 19. It was an ex cop car, it had a V8, a 5 speed, and a posi rear end, it was an incredibly fun car to drive.