21,000 Miles: 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra

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The 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra here on eBay had me fooled: I thought it was just a decent project-quality example. But then I spotted the claim about having only 21,000 original miles, which seemed like a stretch given the condition of the exterior. After taking one look at the insides, though, I saw one of the best-preserved Mustang II cockpits I’ve seen in quite a while, lending some immediate credibility to the seller’s promise of unadulterated condition throughout. The King Cobra is in West Virginia with one bid to $2,000 and the reserve unmet. 

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I won’t waste any time: here’s that minty-fresh Mustang interior. While it could have been re-done, I feel that becomes fairly obvious, with one area (like the seating surfaces) standing out as impossibly clean compared to the carpet or the dash plastics. But this Mustang King Cobra’s passenger compartment appears to be evenly worn throughout, and does resemble that of a car with a history of limited use. There’s some light surface rust on the steering wheel, but everything else looks nicely preserved.

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The original paint shows signs of consistent, prolonged exposure to the outsides, with fading throughout the finish. The iconic hood graphics are just barely visible, but I like the rough-around-the-edges look. Of course, the other bits and pieces are there, including the wide front air dam, mesh wheels and side skirts. What’s a little confusing is the hood scoop color that clearly doesn’t match the rest of the car – and could have been swapped in from another King Cobra at some point.

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According to the listing, the Mustang has benefited from numerous recent repairs including a refreshed fuel system, new brakes and tires, replacement rear shocks and a full tune-up. It has been in storage for the last 30 years and if all the claims of condition check out, it could be one of the more original examples left. The picture of spare parts above may indicate long-time ownership in the hands of an enthusiast, but I’ll leave that level of due diligence up to any prospective owners. What about you – does the low mileage claim pass the smell test?

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Comments

  1. rdc

    I have no love for that era Mustang. Pass. 🙂

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  2. Grr

    Silly looking with those big aero add-ons but rolling on little wheels. And that handbrake lever is massive!

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  3. Van

    I’m not convinced.
    Sure, paint it and drive it.
    Just don’t pay to much for it.

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  4. George

    If it’s just been under a carport, I can see that the exterior could look worn with low miles. The quality of plastics not being very good in that era can add to aging with low use. The top edge of the back seat has a bit more grime than I would expect for 21K though.

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  5. Dairymen

    I have no idea why someone wants a mustang from 1972 till the mid-2000’s!

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    • grant

      Have you ever put a big honking V8 in one of these? Like a really insane, scare your aunt Mary fire breather? That’s why. Although I share your sentiment past about ’93, lol.

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      • Cassidy

        I felt the same way until I bought a ’00 model with a V6 and a 5 speed a year ago. Nice running with decent acceleration; good enough to know that a V8 would get me into all kinds of trouble. LOL I totally agree about the earlier models, I love the sound of a 289 in a ’65 or ’66 or a big block in a 68 or a 69, but if you ain’t got the bucks for those, picking up an unloved year isn’t a bad thing, its a fun car to drive!

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  6. Cassidy

    I bought a 78 fastback years ago that had just been traded in to a dealer. It only had 13,000 miles on it and it was sweet! It had a 302 stuffed up front and an automatic, but after suffering for a few years with a gutless Chevy Luv, it was awesome to have that power up front! Regarding this car, I agree with Van: don’t pay much for it and drive it! That exterior is in sad shape, but at least the rust worm hasn’t devoured it… yet. Hopefully, the reserve isn’t too much more than current bid!

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  7. JW

    Exact car the wife was supposed to buy new in 78 but was too tired to go to the dealership until the next day, they sold it and she ended up with a white cobra with the 302 / auto. It was a real fun car to drive but far from the 70 Mach1 we own now. I wouldn’t pay over 5K for it.

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  8. Skip

    I had a ’74 Mustang Cobra with sunroof that I bought back in the ’80s. It was a nice little car and relatively low mileage. But it had been driven to death by a 16 yr. old girl! Ended up doing a good bit of work on it and eventually sold it. But while I had it, it was nice little car and it really scooted. I was a volunteer fireman at the time, and having a sunroof was a plus, because if I got a fire run I could open the sunroof an put my magnetic “Kojak” light on top with no problem! I’ve seen a couple of ’80s models around town lately that I have to check out. I’ve always liked the smaller sized Mustang!

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  9. Doug Towsley

    Nice, start a collection with this and that Cosworth Vega, a Chevy Monza and some other late 70s-early 80s goofiness

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    • Van

      Goofiness LOL

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  10. philip schmidt

    Have been dealing with 1974-1978 cars & parts for 25 years.
    the frt seats NOT the head rests are reapholisterd.
    Center caps are not correct although the wheels are door stikers are missing the bushings although almost 90 complete factory king cobra with almost no factory additional option other then the standard Kc package & am-fm stereo. 121 thousand miles condition would be about right over all.
    Phil Mustang II Spec Shop / 1978 king cobra Registry administrator.

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    • richard aufderheide

      Philip,

      do you have any members with a t top 4 speed and pref AC that is looking to sell?

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  11. Prowler

    My memory of this gen Mustang is Farrah Fawcett standing next her white with blue stripes King Cobra on Charlie’s angels……I think she made the car look much better than it really was.
    These are the weirdest mustangs ever built…underpowered over striped and decaled. too many scoops..flares..ground effects…. hey that sounds like every other late 70’s early 80’s car trying to give the illusion of power and speed.
    As far as the miles being accurate…I can hear Puff the magic dragon playing in the backround

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    • Jeff DeWitt

      In those days about all they HAD was scoops, flares and ground effects. With the emission laws and the state of the technology nothing was fast.

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      • Savage1

        Technology had nothing to do with speed back then.. Saying NOTHING was fast is a bit ignorant. No offense. The gas crisis did. The King Cobra is a rare and desired car even as a Mustang II. The mustang II is a FAR better built car than it’s predecessors and the Fox body that came after it. The 70’s “Disco styling” of the Ghia models, the low Hp ratings because of the Gas crisis and the MYTH that they are Pinto based, has caused a lot of hater-aid for the cars. Truth is, the car only used about 5% of Pinto technology and it was the best part. The front suspension. Nothing else will bolt on or fit between the cars. The car was more Falcon and Maverick than anything else. These cars are a Hot Rodders dream! You can hook them up with any small block ford motor goodies you like, and today’s transmissions really make them scream. They sell better tucked bumpers for them on eBay that makes them look a ton like the first ten cars. Even if you find an ugly Ghia coupe, simply remove all that junk and smooth out the body. You’ll have a Vette eating monster with about $6k out of pocket. The King Cobra however is rare and under 5k made in 78 only. A pristine restored one that’s loaded can go for $20k easily.

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  12. Steve

    Something mighty scketchy about the mis-matched hood scoop.

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  13. piper62j

    Pass…

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  14. Rick Auf

    I have a 68 fastback and a ’10 Shelby GT 500. I would love to get this car.
    4 speed, de smog it, or just put in a 302 hi Po crate engine and I think you would have a hell of a car. 2 deal breakers….1. No T tops ( gotta have T tops on this car…. And I’m sure the aftermarket ones are not available. And no mention on AC…. Gotta have my AC. But overall, you either like their ‘over the top gaudy body cladding ( I dig it) or you don’t. But this an opinion of a man who has a 65 Rambler Marlin, and thinks the rear end is sweeter than the 68 fastback Stang!

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    • sam

      thanks for your interest in my car however it does not have t-tops. the air if it had any was removed along with the power steering, to make room for everything that went into engine bay. the battery is in the back.this one does not have the factory body clawing you normally see.it doses,t say mustang or ford anywhere on exterior. i had to buy the pony for the grill. also no smog unit on it.

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  15. MikeK

    The seller insists bidders with 0-5 feedback contact him (actually refers to himself as “we” “us” etc)…which I understand. Except the seller user I.D. is hilltop motor… with zero feedback. More red flags.

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    • Doug Towsley

      The seller insists bidders with 0-5 feedback contact him (actually refers to himself as “we” “us” etc)…which I understand. Except the seller user I.D. is hilltop motor… with zero feedback. More red flags.
      —————————————————————
      Maybe, With many of the stupid Feebay rules and policies maybe they just opened a new account. In the old days that would be sketchy but not anymore. It takes VERY LITTLE to fall off best match and preferred seller. Heck, a few buyers ding you on the 5 star ratings and you fall below the threshold Thus new acct. I have NO involvement with this seller but there are many compelling reasons for the above.

      As to buyers with less than 5 feedbacks, I have talked to a LOT of sellers who have nothing but grief from scammers and con artists who open new accts and ruin things for a seller. Contradictory? Sure! But a seller has to toe a very strict line. Abusive buyers can do as they please and no repercussions and can open a new acct every day of the week and keep ruining your auctions.

      If you are worried about the seller, The Internet is YOUR Friend. Ask for references, check out their business or reputation. Theres a bazillion forums and boards you can join and ask for help. SOMEONE is nearby and often will do an onsite inspection.

      I know a guy on western US area who was interested in a shady deal on CL back east. He was wise to be worried but REALLY wanted the vehicle. So, another guy i know with skills, did a ISP and WHOIS search tracked down the listers to their REAL address they were running scams from. Fred confronted them. Showed up at their house. No car,. it was a scam. Talk about putting the fear of God into someone.
      Probably still wondering how they got tracked down.

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  16. Jeff

    I had a ’67 Mustang in the mid-90’s and was a member of the National Capitol Area Mustang Club (Washington DC area) and they would not even acknowledge these cars were ever built, as far as they were concerned the Mustang II never existed. That said, I am always suspicious of cars from WV, PA, and north. I’ve been suckered in more than once by pics of a body that looks perfect and then find a chassis thats about to collapse from rust. I won’t go look at one again unless I get pics of the chassis.

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    • Jeremiah

      I guess you don’t know what you’re missing. The NCA Mustang Club can stick their nose in the air, let them smell their pretentious farts. These are fun cars to drive. It’s kind of funny how long stupid stereotypes can linger past their validity.

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      • Rick A

        I agree, as a teen in the late 70’s, early 90’s….. I lusted after a mustangII COBRA. And remember, not considered a “true mustang” by the Pony purists….. It kept the name alive until they started making the Hi Po 5.0’s.
        And IMHO they looked more like the first generations than the 70-73s. If you dig the car, you dig the car. Always going to be ‘haters’. Eg. I have a 68 GT fastback…..I take it to a show and there is a sea of mustangs. I also have a 65 Rambler Marlin…. I get mocked when discussing it, but when I show it….. It garners a crowd like you would not believe

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  17. Terry

    Had a King Cobra in the mid 80s. Talk about no respect! Fun cars. Taught my first wife to do burnouts in it.

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  18. Jeff DeWitt

    I knew a young lady who had a dark blue Mustang II with T-tops, V8 and a four speed, NEAT little car and no doubt a blast to drive.

    I never really understood the hate the Mustang people had over these cars. For the sort of car it is it’s really a good size and as others pointed out they kept the name going until the Fox bodies came out.

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    • richard aufderheide

      Jeff,

      EXACTLY. it kept the breed alive. they (Ford) tried to phase out the Mustang with the Maverick….. then the Probe…. If it were not for these Gen III mustangs (or may be its Gen 2..i don know if the 67/69’s are lumped in with the 64 1/2 thru 66).. we would have some prius looking thing today… or worse Ford would roll out a “limited edition” piece if retro crap like they tried with the thunderbird years back. i remember stopping to look at one at the dealer… and he told me they were taking “bids starting at 10k over the sticker) he took my info… a year and a half later he called and said they would sell the car for 25k on a 36k sticker price.
      Clowns.

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  19. rdc

    Excellent point re the Mustang I still don’t like that era car. By the way, 69 and 70 Mustangs were different than 67/68. 🙂

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