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Graphics Galore: 1978 Ford Mustang Cobra II 5.0

With the mid-seventies approaching, automakers were facing all sorts of whammies when it came to offerings having anything to do with high performance.  A trio of issues including insurance premiums, rising fuel costs, and higher emission standards were all taking their toll on the muscle market by this time, and not even the Ford pony car was exempt as evidenced by the restyled Mustang II which debuted in 1974.  But at least the design team didn’t abandon the idea of making it look cool in spite of compromised performance, and in 1976 the Cobra II package was born.  Presently cruising the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, this 1978 Ford Mustang Cobra II here on eBay looks like a fun weekend driver, and so far bidding hasn’t gone off the charts yet, with the current high amount resting at $7,700.

Ford borrowed the name from the beloved car of a different era, but this time all it got you was some improvements in the appearance department, and nothing really special in terms of going any faster than a base Mustang.  The package was only available on the hatchback and included lots of window louvers, a rear spoiler, a black grille and front air dam up front, a hood scoop that did nothing but sit there, and colorful graphics just about everywhere the body would allow.

The seller says his car has passed through the hands of only two local owners, who combined have only driven it 34,000 miles during the nearly five decades of service.  Outside, the paint isn’t perfect but the body itself appears to be in good shape overall, and the owner mentions that he thinks a detailer could do wonders for the black finish.  I tend to agree it’s worth a shot, as the exterior still looks too flashy like it is to start from scratch.

We find both good news and bad under the hood, with the positive being this one’s got the largest motor you could get in a Cobra II.  The engines started with a 4-cylinder followed by a V6, then topped out with the 302 V8, and while the latter is what can be found in the bay here the 5.0 made just shy of 140 horsepower for ’78.  But it is said to start right up and at least you’ve got all that body trim outside to make the car look faster.

There’s nothing specifically mentioned regarding the interior, but if it’s original the condition seems to help vouch for the car’s stated low mileage, as I don’t think the inside would look nearly this good if it had been occupied for an additional hundred thousand miles.  And I’d for sure persuade the seller to throw in that Tasmanian Devil so he could continue riding with me and help the car feel faster.  It makes me wonder why Ford didn’t approach Warner Brothers and make this stuffed passenger addition a standard part of the Cobra II package, but I guess they figured it was a tired idea since Chrysler had used a couple of the Looney Tunes characters already.

We also get to check out the undercarriage from a series of four different angles, with one photo showing some corrosion near the front on the driver’s side, but it doesn’t appear catastrophic and probably won’t be too much of a headache to address.  But overall this one seems like it would be a fun car to be seen in, plus with the low miles there’s probably some decent life left if you continue to give the car a high level of caretaking.  What’s your take on this 1978 Ford Mustang Cobra II?

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    Good write-up Mike. Looks like a pretty decent Mustang II. The Cobra graphics are polarizing, but they are a product of their times. Nice to see one which hasn’t been abused or chopped up.

    Like 13
    • Avatar photo Mike Stephens Staff

      Thanks for your kind words Bob, yes definitely a treat to see one of these pretty much left intact! There was a white Mustang II with the Cobra package running around my neighborhood in Nashville when I was a teenager with blue stripes, but the side graphics were more toward the bottom so it must have been a 1976 or ’77 model. I think only the 78s had the graphic more near the center of the sides such as the featured Cobra II, Somebody please chime in and LMK know if I’m remembering this correctly.

      The photo from the link below is similar to the car down the street from our house in the late seventies, I was about 14 or 15 and thought it looked really cool!

      https://tinyurl.com/Cobra-II

      Like 9
      • Avatar photo RoadDog

        I’m a few laps behind the track on ya, but there was one just like it in my neighborhood! And I totally agree with you, it looked so cool! Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane! 😁

        Like 4
      • Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

        Ah, yes, the Charlie’s Angels Farah Fawcett Edition! My preferred paint scheme to be sure, but my Charlie’s Angels crush was Kate Jackson instead. Something about a brunette with a light Southern accent just leaves me weak in the knees, LOL!

        Like 7
      • Avatar photo bobk

        Agree with most that has been said here. Mine was a ’76 with the reverse of the paint job that you show in the attached link (blue with white stripes). I also had the benefit of a 4 speed manual. I would say that at least mine was not the slug that has been implied at times. It wouldn’t hold a candle to a lot of other cars that I have owned, but not an embarrassment either.

        Like 5
      • Avatar photo Kimberly Woody

        Hi Mike, I bought this car on EBay. Pictures did make it look better. It’s a 20 footer. But it is completely all original but stereo and an alarm. Still happy with my purchase. Trying to decide on repaint or leave it alone. The mileage is totally correct. Talked to the last owner. It’s on our car trailer heading to its new home NC

        Like 3
  2. Avatar photo Rank

    Don’t like all the silly plastic addons or tape. These were nice looking cars in basic trim. I remember riding in a new one with a 302 4sp that was pretty sharp, didn’t need all the silliness outside.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo 370zpp Member

      Just too much “silliness” for you, Rank?

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      You can strip the decals off yourself. All you need is an attachment for your drill. It’s basically a giant eraser that literally rubs the graphics off of the car. I saw Edd China use one on “Wheeler Dealers” once.

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Robert Proulx

    This is actually nice and 5.0 power. Even the engine compartement don’t look molested. 195/70r13’s and 24 psi times have changed and dig the horn for the alarm. I love it, now if only i could get a 1978 Farah Fawcett with it. ;)

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo RoadDog

      At least the swimsuit poster! 🤣

      Like 4
    • Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      My Charlie’s Angels crush was Kate Jackson instead. Something about a brunette with a light Southern accent just leaves me weak in the knees, LOL!

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

    I’m with the OP who suggests a nice cut & buff on the original paint before going the respray route. The primitive smog control gear takes its toll in the engine room, but with some modern upgrades to the original mill, that can be taken care of in short order. A nice going over for the chases bits, replacing all of the forty-five (45) year old bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends, shocks and springs to restore the ride and handling, and cruise to your heart’s content!

    Like 4
  5. Avatar photo John Eder

    Is this a Cobra? I can’t tell.

    Like 9
  6. Avatar photo Fran

    Love these cars! I have a feeling that we all are going to start seeing these come up more and more!

    Like 6
  7. Avatar photo James Sawyer

    I have had 3 of these in my life, dating back to 1977. At the top of my bucket list is a 78, white with the blue billboard stripes and hopefully T-tops. They were fun to own, and easy to repair. Good times!

    Like 8
  8. Avatar photo Ignatius J. Reilly

    It might look cool, but with black exterior and black vinyl interior with NO a/c, it certainly would not be cool.

    And Chrysler’s use of the Road Runner character didn’t discourage Chevrolet, some 3 decades later, from putting Bugs Bunny on the Warner Bros Edition of the Venture U-body minivan.

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo wjtinfwb

    Garish… but ohh so ‘70s sweet. The 302 is a definite plus, they wake up very easily and inexpensively plus the C4 is pretty stout and can easily be beefed up. Put some Journey or Foghat in the 8-track and cruise with confidence!

    Like 6
  10. Avatar photo John Jameson

    In 86 I owned a 85 5.0 GT 210h.p, buddy of mine had a 78 cobra ll. I built the 302 c.i.motor for him, bored .30 with 10.1 flat top pistons, rv cam, 72 351 W heads shaved .10, little did I know I was building a monster that smoked my 85..lol. He has yet to let me live it down. Good times, for him anyway…lol 🙄

    Like 9
  11. Avatar photo Keith V Fanks

    It was September 1976 when a girl that I dated through college cheated on me. I was saving every penny I could to buy her an engagement ring.
    The 1977 Mustang II Cobra came out and I took all that “engagement ring money” and bought one.
    1977 Mustang II Cobra 302, 4 speed manual transmission, black with gold decals.
    Best decision I ever made! I’m lucky I didn’t kill myself with it.
    Fast forward to 1981 and I sold it to pay for my now wife’s engagement ring. Married 41 years and that was an even better decision!!

    Like 17
  12. Avatar photo PRA4SNW

    Buy this and park it next to the line of Fox body Mustangs. Not hard to guess which car gets the most attention.

    Like 6
  13. Avatar photo Bick Banter

    Very timely! The newly revealed Free Wheeling package for the 2024 Bronco Sport gives a similar vibe. Google it and you’ll see. A LONG time coming, IMO. They should resurrect the Stallion package too for those small trucks. And then bring back the great ’70s luxury packages like the Mark IV Lincoln designer series, the Lipstick and Creme packages, and the Town Landau options on their enormous SUVs and crossovers, which are the perfect canvas for those. It’s a crime they haven’t done that already.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo PRA4SNW

      Someone did a Free Wheeling wrap on a ’22 real Bronco a little over a year ago. Looked nice but not sure of the mass appeal of it.

      But, it seems that every time Ford releases a special package, there is no shortage of takers.

      Like 9
      • Avatar photo Bick Banter

        Have no fear. It’ll be an actual option package for 2024!!

        Like 6
      • Avatar photo Bick Banter

        Next, give us Blass, Pucci, Givenchy, and Cartier Lincoln Navigators!

        Like 6
  14. Avatar photo Goz

    Maybe with a 4 speed, AC and those garish graphics removed.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      You can strip the decals off yourself. All you need is an attachment for your drill. It’s basically a giant eraser that literally rubs the graphics off of the car. I saw Edd China use one on “Wheeler Dealers” once.

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo PRA4SNW

        I really hope that no one takes that advice and do that to this fine car.

        There are so many II’s out there without decals for those that do not like the factory look of these.

        Like 3
  15. Avatar photo Fran

    I see the town cryers are here. Must be Facebook got boring.

    Like 5
  16. Avatar photo Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. I’ve always loved the Mustang II. I hope whoever buys this car likes it and enjoys it.

    Like 4
  17. Avatar photo MTBorst

    This car looks nice if you like that style.
    I prefer the older 67-70 styles.
    Let’s us remember 78 was a year of foreign car 4 bangers tearing up American v-8 smoggers!
    And a year before gas prices sky- rocketed to 🤔 $1.21 a gallon. Funny I could still make my house payment and new truck payment on 1 weeks wages. 😅

    Like 0

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