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What the Hell Were They Thinking: Ford Mustang II


For starters, it was based on the Pinto.

Its base engine produced a measly 88 horsepower. The optional V6 only offered 105 hp. Then mandatory catalytic converters went into effect in 1975, reducing output to 83 hp and 97 hp, respectively. And it was built on the same platform as the Pinto subcompact. Welcome to the Ford Mustang II. Built from 1973 through 1978, the Mustang II was all about a supposed return to Mustang basics and downsizing.

Mustang buyers were complaining their favorite pony car had become too big, so Ford made the attempt to satisfy their demands. However, it wasn’t exactly the best time for performance due to the 1973 oil crisis. As a result, automakers were forced to downsize their engines as well. Then came catalytic converters and things went from bad to worse. For the 1975 model year, however, the crisis had ended and Ford decided it was time to give the Mustang II proper power and performance. The 302 cu in V8 was offered, but produced just 140 hp. 0-60 mph happened in 10.5 seconds. Various exterior styling revisions were done at around this time as well, but the Mustang II just wasn’t a very good looking car to begin with.

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Despite all its flaws, the Mustang II was a sales success. Sure it had quality problems and didn’t look nearly as cool as its predecessors, but the Mustang II may best be remembered as sort of a stop-gap measure. Ford adapted the Mustang for the time because it didn’t have much of a choice. But gas got cheap again and the Mustang later returned to form.