First Year Project: 1974 Ford Mustang II

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What to make of the Ford Mustang II such as this first-year 1974 fastback or a “3 door 2+2” model as Ford described it in their marketing brochure. And, this example is a Mach I trim level – I didn’t know such a thing existed with the Mustang II. And I probably didn’t know it because I don’t know much about the Mustang II. I liked the ’70 and prior, but disregarded the BIG ’71-’73 version, and the Mustang II? Fuggetaboutit! All that said, there’s a lot here to consider so let’s investigate this garage-bound resident of North Branch, Minnesota. It’s available, here on eBay for a current bid of $586 with the reserve not yet met.

Offered in both fastback and notchback body styles, the ’74 Mustang II hit a grand slam in sales knocking out 386K units (shows what I know about the II’s popularity). As stated earlier, I didn’t know that the Mach I trim levels extended beyond ’73, and at first, thought the Mach I emblems were just grafted on and not genuine. But this example appears to be real and what comprised that option, available on the fastback body style, was styled steel wheels, dual color-keyed mirrors, satin black finished rocker panels with Mach I badging, white lettered tires, full instrumentation, 105 net HP 2.8 liter V6 engine, and standard four-speed manual transmission.

Our subject car appears to be mostly complete with a straight body and a heavily sanded nose piece. The seller was considering this Mustang as a parts donor but then thought better of his intended action. Apparently, the previous owner started down the restoration path but then stopped. The seller adds, “Overall, for its age, the body is in good shape but there are minor issues. There is a small hole in the passenger side floor (replacements are available). The front fenders both have rust in front of the door which are repairable but when a good used one is available for $150 it doesn’t make sense to repair. The inner fenders have rust as well, the worst spot is under the battery tray, both sides will require some repairs. There is also surface rust on the roof where it appears something had been sitting on the car over the years retaining moisture“.

Two engines were available for Mustang II in ’74, a 2.3 liter in-line four, and a 2.8 liter V6 – as referenced earlier, standard fare in the Mach I, This car, however, has neither as it is engineless. What happened? Who knows, it’s not stated though the optional automatic transmission is included in the sale.

The interior shows pretty well though the seller mentions a poorly repaired dashpad, frayed seatbelts (not good), and faded carpet. Other notables are torn black vinyl upholstery and a rather pedestrian instrument panel. Beyond that, there’s really not much else that can be said about it.

OK, next stop? I’m not sure, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in these (and thus the paltry $586 bid), and “putting an LS in it” is probably not a viable move either. If nothing else, the front suspension and rack and pinion steering from these Mustang IIs usually get poached for other more interesting projects. So, what do you all think, any takers out there for this first-year fastback?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Terrry

    Can’t get too excited about a gussied-up Pinto, even if it’s in “Mock 1” trim. Apparently a lot of people didn’t agree though, as these sold like hotcakes.

    Like 12
  2. CCFisher

    Sadly, that weak little V6 was the strongest engine available in 1974 Mustangs. 1974 remains the only year the Mustang wasn’t available with a V8. Curiously, while the V6 was the base engine in the Mach 1 all the way through 1978, when the Cobra II came along in 1977, the 2.3L 4 was standard.

    Like 5
  3. Herbert

    These were pretty cars. I was impressed when I first saw one in a showroom. The Mustangs had gotten horribly bloated, not to mention expensive. These were nice. The 2.3 really wasn’t all that bad, at least with a four speed. The Colonge V6 was a so so engine for reliability. The 250 six should have been used as was with the 79 Stangs (okay, 200 inch.). I imagine the engine compartment was a bit small for that, though. Would have been perfect, even the sad little 200 would have been better, esp again, with that 4 speed.

    Like 7
    • Nick8778

      Wouldn’t they have been nice with a little 221 or 260 squeezed in there? I know I’m being anachronistic here, as those engines were long gone by this time, but this car was longs for a baby V8…eventually they got the 302…as smog choked and emasculated as it was in those days…

      Like 4
  4. Nick8778

    I know we are supposed to hate these cars as Pinto Ponies and ersatz and all the rest (and I am a “real” Mustang owner–I have a Race Red 2014 V6 convertible) but….but….this is a really nice looking car. I think the fastback was the best looking Mustang II although the notchback was handsome, too. The wheels were too small, yes, and as for power, well there just wasn’t any, really. But after the behemoths that the 71-’73s had become, the Mustang really needed to go on a diet. Just not, well, anorexia. The fact is, though, the Mustang II saved the Mustang. Were it not for the success of the Mustang II, there never would have been a Fox body Mustang or a Mustang renaissance. The Mustang today would be a memory, like the Barracuda.

    Like 20
  5. Tony

    Oh, for crying out loud! 1974 was a garbage year for Mustangs! Face it people and get on with some of the later years that were at least halfway decent. You couldn’t give me one of these things.Lol!

    Like 8
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      What Tony said.

      Like 5
  6. Big C

    Our ’74 Mustang II had 175,000 miles when I sold it. V-6, automatic, 2+2, silver with black interior. Dad bought it used, from Hertz, in early ’75. Went through mom, dad, as his work car, my sister, then me. We had it 10 years, and besides the plastic timing gear disintegrating, we had no problems. It wasn’t the best performer, but neither were the original 6 bangers. People don’t remember, I guess, that the govt. had stepped in and was telling us that the world was running out of oil, and we were all going to perish, in a frigid ice age, if we didn’t give up our safe, fast, and comfortable big cars. Ford just happened to react faster to the big lie. Compared to the garbage that GM and Chrysler issued a couple of years later? This car was a gem.

    Like 14
    • D-Squared

      Actually, it was GM to answer first in 1971 with the Vega. It was rushed out so fast that they never took the time to develop a real 4cyl and they almost ALL had meltdowns. It’s crazy how GM was like, “yup, that’s good enough”… and just sent it. I guess no worse than ford with the pinto and their firey abomination. Idk which terrible car was worse between the Vega and the Pinto… but, eventually they both grew up and became the Mustang II and the Monza. Each of which carved out a niche in the market for themselves and both did fairly well. It happened to be the right car for the era to keep US auto production alive. If neither of those cars existed then the japanese cars of the era and the slow trickle of German cars to the US market would’ve smothered our own production and MANY people would’ve been out of jobs. As much of a lie as the oil crisis was, it was a tool to scale back vehicle size to what government felt were more reasonable sizes. Cuz truth be told, if they didn’t shrink the cars then we would all be driving around in 40′ long 15′ wide land liners..

      Like 3
      • Big C

        In a free country? The govt. should have no business telling us what we “should” be driving. Have you ever heard of the saying ” the market will decide?” And, I still drive a “big” vehicle. Because I can.

        Like 3
    • Herbert

      The message wasn’t so much climate change in those days but the horrible air pollution in the big cities. People were actually dying from it. They were right about that. I missed the better run cars from the sixties then too, but I also knew we had to change the air quality.

      Like 4
    • Jim

      “People don’t remember, I guess, that the govt. had stepped in and was telling us that the world was running out of oil, and we were all going to perish, in a frigid ice age,”

      It is funny how people remember the past through the lens of the present. From Wikipedia:
      “ In October 1973, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) announced that it was implementing a total oil embargo against the countries who had supported Israel at any point during the Fourth Arab–Israeli War…”. The gas crises of the 70’s had nothing to do with oil shortages and everything to do with Middle East politics.

      Like 5
      • Claudio

        Do not quote wikipedia as it is another leftist mouthpiece but i do agree with you

        Like 0
  7. Nelson C

    I always liked these but being a budding teenager meant that wheels were wheels. Given my dad’s proclivity towards six cylinder powerglide Chevies there was little chance one of these would ever appear in our driveway. Both body style were pleasant and easy on the eyes with good proportions. Horsepower was hard to find when cleaning up the tailpipe and big tires waste fuel. The four cylinder and stick shift would keep up fine.

    Like 3
  8. Shelbydude

    This is a rare (and maybe the only one) right hand drive model. I’m thinking the seller may be lysdexic.

    Like 4
  9. SA

    There are various opinions about these Mustang so some need to get over that. I had one back in the day and liked it. To be honest as a parent. There is no way I would buy a mustang with more power than sense. Maturity comes with age (for the most part). There are some who never grow up. Yes I have always liked the car and don’t really car who don’t.

    Like 3
  10. Troy

    Personally I think this car would only be worth $600 bucks running and driving, to me they were just a glorified pinto, I thought they would be the death of the mustang until Charlies Angeles hit the TV. Good luck to the seller but at your current bid I say end the auction take your money and be thankful its out of your garage.

    Like 1
  11. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    One can like them, or not. But as I stated in a recent Mustang II write-up, the Mustang II experts are clear that there is very little commonality with the Pinto (beyond parts which were common to all Ford products). For example, they were not “based on a Pinto platform,” not in the context most people use the term.

    Like 12
  12. Richard

    I had a 1977 Mustang 2 coupe, with the Cologne V-6 and an AT. It was a truly awful car. It rattled and burned pil from day one. The build quality was beyond poor.
    I started buying Japanese cars in the 80’s, and have never looked back.

    Like 1
    • ExplodingChevySideTanks

      What kind of pills did you run in it? Maybe that’s why it rattled?

      Like 5
    • bone

      they made a lot more corollas and civics in 1980 alone than Mustang IIs in 74 , and yet there are nearly none of them left, and these cars still pop up. the 70s and 80s Asian imports ran like clockwork, but other than that their build quality was far worse – cheap plastic interiors, and bodies that rusted nearly as bad as a 71 Vega in the rain.

      Like 5
  13. timothy r herrod

    I was 13 years old and was out working in a milo field when a strange looking car pulled over on the side of the road about 100 yards from us. My oldest brother got out and walked over to where we were, I asked him what that was as it looked like some kind of vega to me and he told me it was the new mustang. I could not believe what they did to the mustang, ended up getting my drivers license in that car. I thought it ran well with the V6 but you have to remember that I was driving old pickups and whatever else I could get running before that car

    Like 3
  14. Joe

    I wish this was closer to me. 74 fastback is had to find anymore , for me it has to be a 74 because of emissions testing ! 75 or later goes thru emissions testing. These mustangs have a longer wheelbase than a pinto by 4 inches, so if going Big block in one, 74 mustang is the one to build were I live. I’ve seen a V10 and a couple of 460’s but I think a 390 would be ideal.

    Like 2
  15. Ted

    I’ve owned 11 Mustangs in my 72 years, including a couple K-codes and yes, 2 Mystang IIs in the mix. I have never understood the general contempt for these cars. Their fit & finish was good, comfort and handling excellent for the time, and in my opinion they looked pretty good. One of my IIs was a 74 Mach, much like this one, but with the stick. Nothing like the hi-po cars, but kinda fun to drive. The other was a 302 4-speed, and after typical aftermarket performance add ons it ran well. It’s only problem was it had a t-roof, and the cowl shake was horrendous. I was an engineer for Ford at the time and talked with the chief engineer for the Mustang II, and he told me that he stressed to Ford that this chassis could NOT stand to have its backbone (roof) hacked up. They did it anyway…go figure.

    Like 4
  16. jim

    Defiantly not for me and never liked that vega style at all

    Like 0
  17. Cdice

    An orange ’72 Vega GT Kammback wagon was my first new car. I liked the stying and having a 2-door wagon reminded me of the Chevy Nomads. Not much grunt from its aluminum 2-barrel engine but it was perfect for a college kid hauling his belongings around. Also bought a new fastback Mustang II Mach 1 with the Cologne V6. Really liked the styling. Same color as this one.

    Like 0

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