Cheap 1974 Mustang II Mach I

Please don’t call this mustard yellow Mustang II a Pinto! Yes, it is built on a Pinto platform and came with an anemic 2.8 liter V6 but it is a Mustang and it sold very well. Unfortunately, the Mach I stickers didn’t fool anyone when it came to acceleration. Ford shortened the Mustang in 1974 by 19 inches and the car lost almost 500 lbs. The oil embargo was impacting fuel prices and the Mustang went back to its modest roots as a secretary’s car from 1974-1978. This Mustang II is listed here on Craigslist for $3,000 and is located near Portland, Oregon.

The good news is that someone replaced the 2.8 liter V6 with a 5.0 liter V8. There are no specs on the engine but it does look factory. I would assume it is fed by a 2 barrel carburetor. The seller states that it runs good but it has a valve issue and low compression in one of the cylinders. The motor is attached to a C-4 automatic transmission and overall the car is pretty solid. One of the fenders is a different shade of mustard yellow and the seller is offering a replacement hatchback for free with the sale. The Mustang II is said to handle better than the prior year due to the rack and pinion steering which has been rebuilt on this car. The seller notes that the brakes, tires and fuel lines are new.

The interior looks comfortable and original but those seats won’t hold you very well in a tight turn. The carpet has been replaced and the interior appears to be in better shape than the rest of the car. My twin brother loves these cars but, then again, he is a fan of the Cosworth Vega, too. When we are in high school, we would prey on Mustang II King Cobras in drag races in our Pontiac Trans Ams knowing that even the V8 Mustang IIs produced only 140 horsepower! With all teasing aside, the Mustang II was a sales success selling over 1 million cars from 1974-1978.

While you could by a 454 Corvette at the Chevrolet dealer or a SD-455 Trans Am at the Pontiac dealer in 1974, Ford went for the economy market with the Mustang II and abandoned its iconic heritage developed over the last 9 years.  If this is your cup of tea, then this one can probably be bought cheap.  If you owned a Mustang II, please comment below and tell us about your car.

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  1. dyno dan

    Had a 1974 Mustang II. Put a 460 4bbl c6 in it. with a few minor mods. ford 9in. rear. Good Times!

  2. Superdessucke

    Will a Coyote motor fit into one of these things? That’d be exciting!

  3. Bubba

    I had a 1974 Mustang II. Got it while I also had a 1969 Mach 1 While the 74 was great for economy since it had a speed it was also a little fun to drive but not the 69

    • JoeNYWF64

      Better visibility out back, rack & pinion steering, & probably radial tires helped – on the ’74.

  4. Dave

    The 1974 cars were on the showroom floor before the Arab oil embargo began. The Mustang 2 was Ford’s response to the automotive press having panned the 1971-1973 version as being bloated and Ford having forgotten what made the Mustang so ground-breaking.
    So, as they’d repurposed the Falcon, they repurposed the Pinto.
    By 1973, the twin hammers of the EPA and insurance companies had changed the definition of performance…cars that were more European in their handling were sought after by performance enthusiasts, hence the move to rack and pinion steering, disc brakes, and radial tires.
    Sure, you could buy faster cars, but with the 55 mph national speed limit, odd-even purchase days, and 10 gallon limits those fast cars didn’t move off the lots.

    • Bob_in_TN Member

      Dave, your points are well-taken. I seem to remember internal Ford photos of early proposals for the Mustang II which date to 1970. If that is the case, Ford was itself reacting to what it had done — how the car had gotten away from its roots — even before the automotive press had the chance.

  5. bobk

    ’76 Mustang II Cobra II, 302 4 spd here. Not real exciting when I pressed the “loud pedal” until we (Dad and I) went through the drivetrain. Much better after the engine mods.

    I thought it handled pretty well from the get-go. Unfortunately, in the stock (before) version, you just didn’t want to get in the middle of a corner and need more power ’cause it ain’t going to be there. The engine mods took care of that problem.

  6. Russ Myers

    The BIG difference between a Pinto and a Mustang ll is that the ll’s engine and trans were mounted on an isolated subframe. This was to reduce NVH.

  7. HeatherE

    Currently have an original Black/black ’78 King Cobra Mustang with original 302, 5.0, V8…..NEVER restored or modified! As you know, there were only a little over 4,200 made and ’78 was the only year they were factory built. It only has 80,600 original miles. Love to drive it to shows, so folks can get a bit of nostalgia. It doesn’t win awards (too many folks claiming their cars are “original’ when it’s been restored/modified), but the conversations with people is reward enough. It’s a great driving little piece of Ford and Mustang history and it’s nickname is Snake Bite!

  8. philthyphil

    347 5 spd cheap fun

  9. bikefixr

    Years ago I had a ’77 Mustang II hatch w/302 and a 4sp. The typical power-adders (cam, headers, some head work, 4bbl etc..). Dropped it 3 inches with the widest rubber I could get in there. Stiffer sway bars, Koni’s. That was a bad-ass car and a BLAST to drive. These have decent geometries and handle well. I had so much fun in that car. I still would like to have a low-mile Cobra version.

  10. ninja3000

    “Cheap 1974 Mustang II”

    Can you spot the redundancy?

    And the same color as mom’s Maytag!

  11. Troy s

    Not a fan of the “II” but the 302 is a good starting point, a little breathing on it is in order. These Mustang II’s did exactly as Ford hoped…they sold in droves compared to the Knudsen influenced ’71-73 mustangs, or any other pony car of the same year.
    It was only natural for gear heads and custom car folks to start building these up along with Chevy Vegas, Capris, even Gremlins! Some dudes were building the heck out of VW’s…

  12. Paul

    It’s actually worse then a Pinto!! And Pinto’s are terrible!

    • JoeNYWF64

      Well, the Pinto front suspension & steering is superior to any Ford before it. & unlike the Vega, the drivetrain is sound. & if you think about it, pinto was always faster than mustang II(& maybe also the ’79 & ’80 fox mustang!!)when they BOTH had 4 cylinders, or 6 cylinders, & the same options!! – because the pinto was lighter in weight!
      I wonder if the small 2005 mustang would have sold as well in ’74 with the same performance as the mustang II, because the ’05 can realistically only hold 2 adults, while the mustang II & pinto can hold 4!!! Plus the ’05 thru present one does not offer optional hatchback utility! 2 big mistakes Ford has made!! Not to mention all the great colors avail on the II & pinto, inside & out, compared to the ’05.

  13. Paul

    Also by far the worst two cars I ever drove were both 78 mustang II’s.
    ..second one lemon car replacement. I guess I got snake bit twice.

    Every last one of these cars should just be sent to the crusher…I know these cars better then most people and they are horrible cars!

    Horrible in performance, reliability and drivability. Oh and the road noise was unbelievable….you couldn’t even here the crummy radio with all the squeaks rattles and road noise!
    I always have to laugh when I hear some people “occasionally” say how great there mustang II was……I figure either they forgot how bad it really was, or are just making things up.

    • Bob_in_TN Member

      Sure looks to me that there were several people who posted who enjoyed their Mustang II. We get it, you had a lousy Mustang II (which you never cease to let us know about), but that doesn’t mean everyone did and that those who enjoyed their car “are just making things up” and that all such cars “should be sent to the crusher.” I hope you are just being hyperbolic.

      • Paul

        Hi Bob,
        I always feel the need to warn anybody before they make a mistake by purchasing one of these…therefore I post the truth about them. I do realize this may offend a few people and I truly am apologetic for that.

        I am very familiar with the engineering that went into the mustang II…From an inside perspective…I would hope that other people whom knew the real nuances of these cars…would do the same!
        These cars simply were not engineered to
        last…so when people say they got ridiculous miles out of a original mustang II…I call malarkey…they were engineered not to last and they were priced accordingly…if you had one with 40,000 miles you would expect oil and transmission fluid all over your driveway. Also they were not a safe car compared to other cars built in the same time that they were marketed

        This post also asked for owner experience with them! So I am relaying my opinion based on my experience!

    • JoeNYWF64

      If you can find a stang II today with no a/c or p/b or p/s, how much can go wrong? Don’t they use the fairly decent ’60s C4 automatic or pinto 4 speed?
      I think the road noise is even worse with some of the H & V rated tires you can buy today even in today’s cars – whirling noise sounds like you are in a flying saucer. Drove me bonzo!! S rated tires back then were super quiet.
      Virtually no new car uses S rated tires today.
      Do NOT put V rated UFO tires on a Stang II ! lol
      Sounds like Ford left out/used minimal insulation back then to save weight(raise mpg). Modern superior insulation can be added. Was delux insuration offered, maybe on the Mustang II ghia?

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