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Affordable Survivor: 1976 Ford Mustang II Limited Edition

Timing is often said to be everything, and the automotive world is no exception. Ford got it right with its First Generation Mustang and spectacularly wrong with the Edsel program. The Mustang II is much-maligned, but sales figures confirm that it was, once again, the right car in the right place at the right time. Our feature car is a 1976 Mustang II Limited Edition that presents well but needs little for a hands-on new owner to lift its presentation to a higher level. The seller has listed it here on eBay in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The bidding sits at $2,950, and if you feel yourself wavering, their decision to list it with No Reserve could make it one of the most affordable V8-equipped and roadworthy classics in the current market.

Ford offered Mustang II buyers in 1976 the Limited Edition Special Value Package, which brought $137 worth of cosmetic enhancements for nothing. Available only on the Coupe or three-door 2+2, buyers received two-tone paint, styled steel wheels, a choice of interior trim combinations, and a brushed aluminum dash fascia. The original owner ordered this Ford in Code 9D Polar White and Code 2R Bright Red. It is a striking combination that won’t appeal to everyone. There is evidence of some color mismatch between the panels and bumpers, but the overall presentation is acceptable for a driver-grade vehicle. There are no significant dings or dents, and the wheels and trim rings look excellent. The glass and chrome are fine for a driver-grade car, and although the seller mentions rust, it doesn’t look extensive. They show this spot in one rear quarter panel, but the rest of the exterior looks clean. It could be a winner if it is a similar story underneath this classic. The Red Landau-style vinyl top looks okay, but the buyer will need to search for a couple of pieces of edge trim. Overall, the winning bidder could enjoy this beauty during the remaining summer months, squirreling themselves and this Ford away in a workshop for the winter to address its few shortcomings.

You may need to break out the shades because this Ford’s interior looks dazzling in Red vinyl. Its presentation and condition impress me because it hasn’t fallen foul of the problems that commonly afflict these cars. The vinyl is spotless, the carpet is free from wear, and the dash, pad, and console, look perfect. The aluminum dash fascia offers a striking contrast, and its condition is immaculate. The console lid has discolored, which is the only flaw I can spot in the supplied photos. It makes me think that this Mustang II has either been cherished and protected its entire life, or someone has treated it to a retrim. It will be fascinating to gauge your feedback on the subject.

Many enthusiasts lamented the loss of a V8 engine option when Ford released the Mustang II, but it was a wise decision during an energy crisis. Ford addressed that perceived shortcoming as conditions improved, and the original owner ordered this one with the 302ci V8. It sends 134hp and 247 ft/lbs of torque to the tarmac via a four-speed manual transmission, with the car also featuring power steering and power brakes. This car emerged during the early years of The Malaise Era, and the power and torque figures don’t promise breathtaking performance. However, a ¼-mile ET of 17.4 seconds was considered acceptable at a time when many vehicles perceived as more potent would struggle to show this gem a clean set of heels. The seller indicates this Mustang II has a genuine 49,650 miles on the clock but doesn’t mention verifying evidence. There is also no information on how this classic runs or drives, although the visual indications are positive.

It is no secret that the 1976 Ford Mustang II divides opinion and has been the butt of many jokes. However, its timing was perfect, and 187,567 buyers gave one a home in 1976. To put that figure into perspective, you must rewind the clock to 1970 to find the last year the First Generation Mustang surpassed that total. This one is a little gem, and while it isn’t the most potent or desirable vehicle on the planet, it could be an affordable option if the bidding stays around the current level. It is sure to find a new home in a few days, but could it be yours?


  1. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    Flashy-looking Mustang II, which appears to be in generally good condition. I’m guessing it has been reupholstered, which is fine. 302 4-speed would make it a decent performer. Would have liked to see the Marti Report. The seller notes he has recently bought a Ghia which I presume means a Mustang II Ghia, so I’m assuming he knows something about Mustang II’s. I like it.

    Like 18
  2. Avatar photo Matt

    If ya squint, in this color combo it almost looks like a small Chevy Laguna from the front

    Like 12
  3. Avatar photo Sam

    Rebuild the 302 with some go fast goodies and have a sweet little sleeper.

    Like 14
  4. Avatar photo TorinoSCJ69

    Seeing an aluminum intake (4 barrel added?), and a remarkably clean engine.
    Had a ’78 4spd 302 “Mach 1” in Red and it run fine – fast cars were a thing of the past.

    This M II looks nice!

    Like 12
  5. Avatar photo Big C

    A 302 with a four speed in a Mustang II notchback. Nice! There can’t be too many of these around.

    Like 13
    • Avatar photo Stan

      Exactly C… 4sp+V8 = 😃 smiles per mile.

      Like 10
  6. Avatar photo Ken

    I appreciate how you twice referred to this car as a, “gem.” On many occasions, Iaccoca called the Mustang II a, “little jewel.” This car also gave us the Mustang II front end, a tidy subframe package that handles well, is relatively easy to install, and still popular with hot rod builds today.

    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo Ted W Mathis

    I’m at a loss as to why many folks put down the Mustang II. It has so much in common with the original mustang rather than the bloated out Torino style of 1973. Then let’s not forget the gas crisis of the mid 70’s which drove many people to smaller more economical cars like the Mustang II.

    Like 13
    • Avatar photo Mr Noitall

      It did not matter which seat you occupied, these Mustangs were NOT a comfortable car to ride in.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo 67Firebird_Cvt Member

      From what I read on Barn Finds, if not for the Mustang II hot rodders would have to look elsewhere for their car’s front suspension.

      Like 5
  8. Avatar photo Rickirick

    I’m a child of the 70’s, a Stang guy (have had a few including the 2018 sitting in my driveway, a retirement gift to myself), am aware of the gas embargo & Motown putting safety issues into place etc. back then. But I’m sorry, Ford with their fox bodies & what -not just completely missed the boat from 74-05 or so. Simply ugly cars for a 30 yr. period imo.

    Like 4
  9. Avatar photo David R Member

    This is a cute little car. Back in the late 80s a friend had a pale yellow one, inside and out…6 cylinder but it was running. My friend abandoned it on a street in San Francisco. I made a deal…went and got it, detailed it and sold it for $800! and we split the proceeds. It was a good example of a “sporty” car marketed to female buyers.

    Like 7
  10. Avatar photo Ken

    I appreciate how you twice referred to this car as a, “gem.” On many occasions, Iaccoca called the Mustang II a, “little jewel.” This car also gave us the Mustang II front end, a tidy subframe package that handles well, is relatively easy to install, and still popular with hot rod builds today.

    Like 2
  11. Avatar photo Dwcisme

    The sales figures did speak. Mostly because of price. Since it was Pinto based, it was relatively affordable, especially in base form with the 4 cyl. Many ended up on fleets, mostly rentals. The animosity towards these cars was certainly in part due to the massive bumpers which I understand weren’t part of the original design. The body coloured vinyl caps were intended to try to hide just how out of proportion they are. Didn’t really succeed IMO. And, yes Mr. Noitall, you needed either a well padded or very young butt to survive any great distances. My roommate somehow managed to buy a new coupe, despite making minimum wage, in 76. It wasn’t an enjoyable car (4 sp. 4 cyl) and didn’t look that good after it was relieved of its wire wheel covers in Detroit 1 night. In retrospect, he was asking for it by leaving it unattended for, literally, 5 minutes.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Neil R Norris

      My buddy had a 4 cylinder standard 1976 . .. you had to get out to make it up hills. Absolute junk.

      Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Paul R.

    Looks a lot like the same vintage Ford Maverick.
    Falcon/Mustang , Maverick/Mustang.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo bone

      Not even close to a Maverick, though they may have been parked next to each other at the dealership The Maverick was Falcon based, as were the first gen Mustangs. These were totally different platforms , and though they shared some Pinto parts, were not based off the Pinto either. Other than the engine and transmissions, which were out in nearly all Fords, they are completely different .

      Like 1
  13. Avatar photo Pnuts

    Nice reminder of the depression era for guys that grew up buying muscle cars off dealer lots and from friends, family, coworkers. I wouldn’t want it but can see why someone would, especially with a clutch and 4 forward gears. Up to $5900 6/26 at 2:30.

    Like 4
  14. Avatar photo wjtinfwb

    Never understood the hate for the Mustang II (Boredom, Zero!). They were about average for their day, keep in mind in 1975 the most potent Camaro was a 175 HP 350 4 barrel in a heavier and less efficient car. Mopar offered the dowdy Dodge Dart Sport but made up for it by stuffing the 360 4barrel in it. Dart’s were pretty light so it was at least a second faster to sixty and in the quarter-mile than the Mustang or Camaro. But it looked like Grandma’s slant-six Duster, not a sexy profile for sure. Lot’s of all 3 in my HS parking lot, today my preference would definitely be the Ford in Cobra II trim with the 302 and manual.

    Like 4
  15. Avatar photo Wayne

    I managed a couple of Goodyear stores in the late ’70s and early ’80s. These were a regular visitor to our shops. We also saw many Pintos which is what Mustang IIs are underneath. My recollection (I’m old now) is that the Pintos were quite reliable where the Mustang IIs were not. (most were 2.8 V6s and 2.3 4 cylinders) It was like the factory just kept piling on stuff (as in weight) to a chassis that was only designed for an original Pinto. (as in weight) Yes the body weighed more as did the nicer seats, engine options etc. It was like a Mustang II was 40 pounds of s_ _ t in a 10 pound bag. I still like the look of the fastback body style and have seen one very nice one (Cobra II) that had the proper size tires and wheels and the owner/builder did a very nice job removing the bumpers and modifying the body on both ends. (It also had a late model 5.0 with a 5 speed and a Ranger rear differential at the stock rear axle won’t take a beating.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo BOLIVAR SHAGNASTY

      The Mustang II shared only the rear floor pan with the Pinto. Thats a lie that has been told thru the years and now everyone believes it. I’ve owned many MII’s and still own a 78 King Cobra that I bought new. Still viable and still a good car.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Reginald K. Dwight

        It’s is probly more of an in-accuracy rather than a lie. If you know what I mean.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo karl

        Thank you for pointing that out . Most people think they are the same car

        Like 1
  16. Avatar photo Philip Lepel

    Ive always wanted a mustang II in my stable. I just wish I had the cash at this moment to grab this one. Breaks my heart to have to pass it by.

    Like 3
  17. Avatar photo C Force

    That 302 just needs a few parts from jegs or summit to cure the mailaise era performance

    Like 1
  18. Avatar photo Dan

    I detailed cars for a Ford dealer on the over night for many years. When these first came out in 74, they only came with the 4 and V-6. They were heavier than the Pinto. So the 4 was slower. The 6 was tolerable, much more so with a 4 speed. You could work on them pretty easily. The 6’s required valve adjustment every 30 thousand miles or so, otherwise they would get noisy. 75’s were another story… The good news, Ford put the 302 in as an option, but only with an automatic. Once the 302 got around 65 mph or so, it was losing its breath because it was only a 3 speed automatic. Ford didn’t give it a 4 speed manual until months later. Also, all of them now had the catalytic converter and smog pumps standard. So, any model that was slow, became even slower. Particularly the 4 cylinder. It also made them more difficult to work on because they added a bunch of vacuum hoses etc. There were a bunch of different packages and trims that you could get over the years. The Arab oil embargo prompted the Mustang MPG which got better gas mileage and you could still order a Mach 1. Chevy introduced the Monza in response to it along with its corporate sisters. I remember these Mustangs selling well. The higher trim leveled Ghia with the V-8 was a nice cruiser. I’ve been around a long time and owned/driven many muscle cars etc. To give you an idea, the 302 and automatic felt about the same speed as an 86 Monte SS that I had driven. When they came off the delivery truck the only thing that was consistently messed up, believe it or not, was the glove box cover. They were often aligned crooked and we would have to correct it. This one seems like a very good buy for the money. The possibilities are endless.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Ken

      I totally forgot about the existence of the Mustang MPG package! According to cjponyparts.com, it got 23 City/34 Hwy. A neighbor bought that package brand new, and was so proud of it, especially since the rest of the neighborhood was getting mileage in the low teens or less. Gas prices went to stratospheric heights that year; over 50¢ a gallon!

      Like 1
  19. Avatar photo Christopher Gentry

    Personally always like these. Particularly the notchback , v8 4 speed and my favorite color combo. Shush it was in the Southeast

    Like 4
  20. Avatar photo Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. Although hardly what most Ford Mustang enthusiasts would consider, I can imagine myself driving something like this and enjoying it. I find it way better looking than the Pinto.

    Like 2
  21. Avatar photo Mike

    You say available “only on the Coupe or the 2 plus 2 Hatchback”. What else WAS there as far as body styles?

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Buffstang

      Ghia and Mach 1 were the other body styles

      Like 0
  22. Avatar photo Bama

    My then soon to be wife had a 76 MPG edition when we met. 2.3 with the automatic, a gutless wonder, you measured 0-60 with a calendar. Now, 45 years later, she wants another one. This one is super nice, but no AC just kills it for here in the Deep South. If I do find and buy her one, it sure won’t be an automatic, unless it is behind a 302.

    Like 1
  23. Avatar photo Mr C.

    My buddy had the Cobra II with 302 and 4 speed. We put headers on it. What a nightmare!!! I’ve worked on many cars and it was one of the worst. It ran mid to low 15s in the quarter mile. I think he installed a four barrel on it too. It was his first car and he loved it.

    Like 0
  24. Avatar photo Kent

    I like it. Always thought the Mustang II got a bum rap. They sold well and were the right car for the time. Without the Mustang II, the Mustang would have undoubtedly been discontinued. Give the Mustang II the credit it deserves. The model saved the Mustang, period.

    Like 1

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