Mustang 2 History (1974-1978)

Article by Mark Trotta

With an emphasis on economy and not performance, the 1974 Mustang II was a completely new design and significantly smaller than the 1973 model; 13" shorter in wheelbase, 4" narrower, and almost 19" shorter overall. It was also 450 pounds lighter in overall weight.

1977 Mustang

Starting in 1973 and continuing into 1974, the booming foreign car market, the OPEC oil embargo, and skyrocketing fuel prices brought about a big change in the way American cars were designed and produced. Consumer demands shifted from powerful and luxurious cars to smaller models with better fuel economy.

Mustang II Dimensions

1974 Mustang II

Along with being smaller in every dimension than it's predecessor, the Mustang II had a new front suspension, featuring an isolated front sub-frame which helped decrease road noise and vibration. The previous steering system, which dated back to the 1960 Ford Falcon, was upgraded to rack-and-pinion steering.

Available as either hardtop or hatchback, a 1974 Mustang could be ordered as one of four models; base two-door coupe, Ghia two-door coupe, base three-door hatchback, and Mach 1 three-door hatchback.

First Four-Cylinder Mustang

The Mustang II's base engine was a four cylinder, the first Mustang to be so equipped. It was a single-overhead cam design (SOHC) with two valves per cylinder, and produced 88 horsepower. The reader must keep in mind that at this time in automotive history, lower engine compression ratios and lower octane fuel were seen across the board for all U.S. produced cars.

Ford Lima Engine

Produced at the Lima, Ohio plant, the four-cylinder's displacement was advertised as 140 cubic-inches from 1974 through 1979. The same engine was subsequently advertised as 2.3 litre (2.3L) until it's production ended in 1993.

V6 Mustang

In 1974, there was just one engine option, a 2.8L V6 derived from the German-built 2.6 V6 that powered the Mercury Capri. With a compression ratio of 8.2:1, power output was 105 horsepower. These 'Cologne' engines had a long production span, and went on to power 3rd Generation Mustangs in 1979.

Either motor was available with the base 4-speed manual transmission or optional 3-speed automatic. For the first time in Mustang history, a V8 engine was not available.

second-generation Mustang history

Mustang II Mileage

When equipped with the 4-cylinder motor and 4-speed manual transmission, a 1974 Mustang II delivered an average of 34 miles-per-gallon on the highway, a substantial 35 percent increase over the 1973 model.

1974 Mach 1

Based on the three-door hatchback body, the 1974 Mach 1 was basically an appearance package, featuring black lower-body paint styled steel wheels with chrome trim rings, and the 2.8 V6 as standard equipment.

1974 Mustang Mach 1 history

Rallye Package

For the buyer looking for a sportier ride and better handling, the Rallye pack option was standard on the Mach 1, and included heavy-duty suspension, wide oval tires, and adjustable shocks. Other items included with the Rallye option were styled steel wheels, interior clock, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Mustang Ghia

Replacing the Mustang Grande as the luxury model was the Mustang Ghia, a two-door coupe featuring body side moldings, vinyl roof, opera windows, and full wheel covers.


Other standard features for the Ghia included remote-control door mirrors, plush carpeting, wood-tone door panel accents, and a digital clock.

Mustang II Options

Extra-cost options available on all 1974 models included air-conditioning, sunroof, body side moldings, styled steel wheels, forged aluminum wheels, bumper guards, and several choices of radios and tape players.

1974 Mustang Sales

For the 1974 model year, Ford sold 385,993 Mustangs, nearly tripling the number sold in 1973. It was also more than twice of it's closest competitor, Chevy Camaro. The Mustang II had the honor of being named Motor Trend's 1974 Car of the Year.

1975 Mustang II

Along with a redesigned hood and new header panel, the 1975 Mustang grille was moved further forward to accommodate a V-8 engine. The 302 cubic-inch engine, limited to a two-barrel carburetor, produced 140 horsepower, and was available with automatic transmission only. Despite it's low performance figures, 1975 was the Mach 1's best selling year.

With the advent of mandatory catalytic converters in 1975, engine output dropped on all engines. Steel-belted radial tires replaced bias-ply tires, and the Ghia received a restyled half-vinyl roof. Toward the end of the production year, windshield-wiper controls were relocated from the instrument panel to the turn-signal stalk.

1975 Mustang history

For 1975, Ford sold approximately 188,500 Mustang II's.

1976 Mustang II

Presented as a stand-alone model for the first time, the 1976 Mustang Cobra II was an appearance package that featured a blacked-out grille, simulated hood scoop, front and rear spoilers, and racing stripes.

1977 Ford Mustang Cobra II

About 187,000 Mustang II's were sold for 1976.

T-Top Edition

1977 saw the introduction of the T-top option, featuring twin removable tinted glass panels, and available on fastback models only.

Mustang II sales rebounded to approximately 192,000 for 1978.

Mustang II King Cobra

Perhaps the lowest number production of special edition Mustang II's, the King Cobra was offered for one year only (1978), and featured exterior graphics, air dam, hood scoop, and raised white letter 70-series radial tires. Under the hood was the 140 horsepower 302 V8. The King Cobra was the first Mustang to wear the '5.0' branding.

Less than 5,000 King Cobra Mustang II's were produced.

Although the Mustang II era was the shortest of the Ford Mustang's six generations, the combined total production of 1974-1978 models exceeded one million units.

1976 Mustang history


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