1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra W/ 4-Speed

There is usually a healthy debate on the merits of the Mustang II whenever one is shown here at Barn Finds. I’m in the camp that there probably wouldn’t be a Mustang today without them and there are others who think that they have no redeeming history at all and they’re an embarrassment. Here’s one that hopefully both sides can do that reaching-across-the-aisle thing that politicians always talk about and then never do once they’re elected. This 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra can be found here on eBay in Hudson, Wisconsin. The bids are at $7,250 and there is no reserve, wow! Thanks to Jim for submitting this great tip!

So, about those politicians who always say that they’re going to work with the other side and we all know that will most likely never happen, yet both sides say it every election cycle and we fall for it every time? I’m hoping that this Mustang II King Cobra can have all of us holding hands, singing Kumbaya, and walking into the sunset together as one big happy car family. Who’s with me? (crickets chirping Kumbaya in the distance)

The second-generation Mustang is a favorite of the love-to-hate crowd, for some reason. I get it, folks who grew up in the mid-60s and lived with the Mustangs that were made during the first generation, or at least the first half of the first-generation, see this car as nothing more than a Pinto with a different skin. ‘Taint so, McGee. I argue that the Mustang II came at the exact right time for Ford and for the rest of us. They were small and fuel-efficient at the right time when that was more important than laying two strips of rubber on the road at every green light.

Were contemporary Toyotas and Hondas better cars? Probably, but then again, Farrah Fawcett didn’t pose on the hood of a 1978 Corolla. Need I say more? And, that wasn’t even a King Cobra, just a regular Mustang II Cobra. The seller says that only 378 King Cobras were painted this dark blue color and only half of the total were 4-speed cars. This example is not a perfect car by any means, despite how great it looks in the photos. They have thankfully and honestly provided a lot of great photos including details and even those of the underside.

You can see what work needs to be done on the inside. Seats are easy to fix, it just takes money – no problem, right? If this car was driven in Wisconsin or Minnesota winters (Hudson is on the border of WI and MN) then I’d be worried about rust and it does appear that there is a bit. But, the rear cargo area looks great as does the rear seat area. As it turns out, I’ll be in Hudson this Friday the 19th. If anyone is serious about this car I could see if the owner would let me check it out in person.

The seller just bought this car five months ago and they have only driven it about ten miles in that time due to the snow coming on strong at that point and they didn’t want to drive it in the winter. They say that there was a tiny drop of oil after taking it out of storage which after that long on a 41-year old car is pretty commendable. It starts, runs, drives, and stops as it should and there’s a nice V8 rumble from the Windsor 302 cubic-inch V8 which would have had around 140 hp and 250 ft-lb of torque. For 1978 that was pretty respectable power. Have any of you owned a Mustang II King Cobra?

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Comments

  1. Miguel

    The wheels look a bit small on this car.

    Like 7
    • Danny Martin

      The looks of these have admittedly grown on me, but the tiny 13″ wheels are one thing I can’t stand. They make the prodigious front overhang look even more pronounced. Usually I hate seeing bigger aftermarket rims on old cars, but a set of those 16″ BBS-cloning rims that came on some Crown Vics back in the day would look right at home on this.

      Like 6
      • TinCanSailor

        Wow, I forgot these had 13-inch tires/wheels… I believe the last car that I owned with 13s was either my 73 Capri or my Fiat Spyder. The selection of 14-inch tires for my Ranger was pretty limited, so I imagine that 13-inchers are hard to source nowadays.

        Like 4
      • dweezilaz

        Tin Can: They are and they used to be standard fare on many small cars. I have two cars that have 13″ers.

        One, an 86 Olds Calais has them with styled aluminum wheels that originally had WWs as well.

        When my little bro had the car he actually special ordered WWs for it. Turns out he’s sicker about cars than even I am.

        The Valiant may get WWs next go round.

        I have 14s on my newest car and even those are getting sketchy to find. There may be a wheel change to 15″ and a recalibration for the odo in the future of that one.

      • scottymac

        Like these, Danny? Not sure about Crown Vics, mine came from a Grand Marquis. I had the rims polished and mesh painted gold while I was working in Oklahoma City. Plan to put these on my ’76 Capri II, when I switch to five lug hubs.

        Like 7
  2. Scott Brown

    I had a 78 2+2 with the v8. It was adequate for a daily driver. I was and am a fan of the first gen Mustang. My perspective is that the 2 was not a muscle car, but it was a still a Mustang. The build quality of the Mustang 2 was much better than the early stang’s and much more nicely trimmed than it’s cousin the Pinto. The 2 should at least be given the credit for being the provider of the nearly perfect front suspension and rack& pinion steering set up for tens of thousands of duce roadsters and various hot rods that are trolling the streets of the world. It also never suffered the droopy door issues that the GM F body twins had due to their massive doors

    Like 19
    • dweezilaz

      Scott, remember that most of the Mustangs and other pony cars sold weren’t muscle variants.

      They were nicer small cars for the run of the mill buyer than the usual Rambler American, Dart, Valiant or Falcon.

      And I am with you on the Mustang II: it brought back some sense of the initial purpose of the Mustang rather than the bloated compact Fairlane they had become by 1971.

      I find those pigs far more offensive to the Mustang name than the II ever was.

      Like 2
  3. OIL SLICK

    I always liked these. My buddy bought a new one in high school and that thing could smoke the bologna’s at will. Torquey little beast.

    Like 3
  4. Dino

    Love them and have owned a few over the years. My latest one

    Like 11
    • James

      Why do you hang them like that? Can’t be good for the engine to have all the fluid pooling at the front.

      Like 14
  5. Roger

    I am not sure why all the hate for this generation of cars. Sure, 140 horsepower is not much, but it was a V8 engine in a relatively light car so with some simple bolt-ons you could have easily had the fastest car on the block.

    My parents bought a new 1978 Mustang II Cobra that sits in my garage today.

    Like 16
    • Danh

      Emissions. That is the reason for all the hate.

      Like 3
  6. Danno

    The Mustang II : Ford’s red-headed step-child.

    Like 1
    • CCFisher

      Implying that red-headed step-children are unloved? Let’s not use this phrase anymore. Red-headed kids take enough crap from their peers without adults piling it on.

      Like 2
      • Mike_B_SVT

        Yeah! And the black sheep too!

        Like 4
      • Miguel

        And deservedly so.

  7. LARRY

    Really would love to have it…but I just bought a 03 mustang gt. This is seriously a beautiful car and pretty easy to up the horsepower

    Like 2
  8. Howard A Member

    Hard to believe, in a few short years we went from 429 Super Cobra Jets, to this. Personally, I liked the Mustang ll. The Mustang had grown so far from it’s original roots, this car kind of slapped the Mustang back, only to start all over again. Quite honestly, these were miserable cars, but it was the best we had as far as a muscle car went going into the 80’s. I had a friend with a regular Cobra ll, V8, fun car, but like my ex-wifes V8 Monza, it shared all the same problems. Front heavy, handled poorly, inadequate brakes, and a pain to work on. Still, got to admit, this is a sharp looking car. And for the record, Farrah Fawcett helped sell a lot of Mustang ll’s, it was THE most popular show at the time( over a million units in 4 years, impressive for any car) just not King Cobras.

    Like 6
  9. RoughDiamond

    I graduated high school in ’78. These Cobras were surprisingly peppy little cars. That aside and I realize I’m in a minority here, but to me and other car guys in my high school, these Cobras were cool just on looks alone.

    Like 6
  10. Bill S.

    NOTHING was lightning fast in the 70s so everyone needs to stop comparing the II to a Cobra Jet Mach 1 or a Boss 429 and saying it was a slow, disappointing car. It actually handled better than any 1st gen Mustang (look at the body lean in a pic of ANY gen 1 model) compared to a Mustang II Mach 1, Cobra II V8 or King Cobra. Braking was better due to standard front discs and the rack & pinion steering was far superior. A V8 II was faster than a 302 V8 powered 73 Mustang, yet no one likes to mention that fact. The interior materials were far superior as well. The 64 Mustang was, literally, a “special Falcon”…flip them both over and they’re identical. You CAN NOT do that with a II and a Pinto because they ARE NOT identical, no matter how much the naysayers have tried to say otherwise since the fall of 1973.

    Like 13
  11. Tom

    Remember these cars got us to the mid 80’s 5.0 Mustangs! People talk about the 1st generation cats but there is a huge difference between the early 65s and the last 1073 models. The mid 70’s kinda sucked for all American Muscle except for the Trans Am. 7 grand is about right for this car.

    Like 3
  12. Mitch Ross Member

    In a road race between a Mustang II V8 and a 1973 Mustang with a 351, I would put my money on the II

    Like 6
    • Scott Nosworthy

      The 73 Mustang with a 351 was a cleveland, a II with a stock 2bbl 302 would be hard pressed to out accelerate a 73 351 especially a Mach 1. Now a road course style race the 302 II might shine.

  13. 71FXSuperGlide

    Given how well the Mustang II models sold, it’s always surprising you don’t see more of these. (1974 is in the top five in sales numbers)

    Even at some of the Mustang shows I’ve attended, where they tried to get one from every year, they would have tough time getting a complete ’74-’78 lineup.

    Like 1
  14. Joe M

    If you have nothing good to say then don’t………..

    Like 2
  15. Bhowe Member

    My brother has 2 78 king cobras. The t top models are pretty rare, especially with the 4 speed.

    Like 3
  16. Mike_B_SVT

    When I need to replace my daily driver, it will be with a Cobra II.

  17. Vin_in_NJ

    Performance aside, the interiors of these cars were a letdown. The lack of a full center console made the interior look spartan and unfinished.

    Like 1
    • Bill S.

      You mean a STANDARD center console, as they were optional on every II from 1974-78. I’ve had 5 IIs over the years, including my current 1 of 1 T-top King Cobra, and every one has had a console. A console wasn’t standard in ANY Mustang until sometime in the late Fox body run. They’ve been standard ever since then.

  18. John

    I’ve always though this great body style should have been up-sized by a third.

    Like 2
  19. SC/RAMBLER

    TI worked at a Chevy dealer in 1979 -81 someone traded in a 70 s mustang 2 ghia with a v8 and automatic. I drove it to insurance agency for pictures. Don’t think it had 302. The 79 Fox body mustang was a
    better car even with turbo 4 the Ghia was a dog no power.

    Like 1
    • ManicMechanic

      If it was a II with a V8, it was the 302…

  20. misterlou Member

    Mustang II’s are to BarnFinds as Porsches & BMWs are to BaT

    Like 3
  21. GTiDave Member

    There’s a Mustang II on BaT now.

    Like 3
  22. lc

    I had a 78 Mercury Bobcat with 13s, and I had the 2.3 rebuilt on it with a Ranger cam. I couldn’t get the carburetor operating good, and sold it. But I liked the look of it. For the most part it has a lot of curvature like the Mustang II hatchback. I also saw a grey primer color Mustang II hatchback for sale this last February at a Denver car swap meet for only 2 grand. It had a 302 in it and graphics painted on it. If I didn’t have my 90 Mustang LX with a 2.3 turbo swap, I would have been very interested in buying it just on looks alone.

    Like 1
  23. whiskey runner

    i had a 302 4sp, black with the large cobra lettering on the side.. i got it with my muster pay when i got out of the air force .. i really liked it, drove the crap outta it and won a lot of street races for awhile.. but missed my big FE blocks and sold it to buy a real nice 68 fairlane with a 390 4sp. sometimes i miss the old stang2..

    Like 1
  24. That Guy

    My opinion? I don’t want to own it but I’d sure have fun looking at it at a carzncoffee.

    Mustang II’s were right for the times, they sold really well and they are almost extinct today. So any sighting of one is a memorable event.

  25. Miguel

    The Mustang IIs sold in Mexico all had the V8 and most were standard transmissions.

    I see people asking crazy money for them, but they don’t sell.

    There are still a few in nice condition for decent money out there and if I come across one, I will grab it.

    Keep in mind Mexico had none of that emissions stuff on the engine, so the car won’t be as anemic as the US versions.

  26. Paul

    They don’t bring much money because they where rated the number one all time lemon car. They are well known for poor build quality even in there time. I had one and I know first hand how poor they where built….in time younger buyers won’t know how bad they where rated in there day so prices should come up in the future.

  27. philthyphil

    347…5 speed…bolt in

    Like 3
  28. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: SOLD at $8,350!

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