King Cobra Project: 1978 Ford Mustang

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The funny thing about all the chatter around later Mustangs being shadows of their former selves is that it mainly focuses on the horsepower argument. There’s often little lamented as it relates to handling, which is why I’ve never been too turned off by examples like this 1978 Mustang King Cobra here on eBay. Aside from the engine downgrade, you could argue it’s a compelling package.

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The Mustang II King Cobra option wasn’t exactly a cheap choice, either. At $1,277, it loaded up the diminutive ‘Stang with special body graphics, air dam, spoiler, mesh wheels and several handling upgrades, including adjustable shocks, HD springs and a rear sway bar. This example doesn’t come with the desirable manual transmission but at least the original King Cobra components are still accounted for.

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Now, back to the suspension: the Mustang II’s suspension setup is generally considered quite desirable for its ability to be molded and configured a variety of ways. The combination of compact packaging and ideal geometry has made the later ‘Stang’s components a common fixture of performance shops and tuning labs looking to build custom setups for high-horsepower applications. However, this example appears complete enough that it shouldn’t be hacked up.

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That said, there is some rust mentioned but not pictured. It resides in the passenger-side floorboard and underneath the trunk lid. Otherwise, this Mustang King Cobra is said to be a stalled restoration project with some components – like the radiator – already removed and now missing. The engine does still turn freely, but I’d want to confirm if other components have gone AWOL. Bids have yet to break $1K and the reserve remains unmet.

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Comments

  1. Chebby

    Those wheels would look great on the baby blue Maverick.

    • Troy Whittle

      13 inch 4 bolt wheels on a 6 cylinder Maverick?
      Will not fit.

  2. Howard A Member

    When my ex-wife had her ’77 V-8 Monza, we had some friend’s that had a Cobra ll like this, V-8 auto. Although we never raced, the cars seemed evenly matched and suffered the same problems. Front heavy ( hence, light in the back, terrible in winter) so-so braking, and hard to work on. Known as “the forgotten Mustang”, we owe a lot to the Mustang ll. Without it, Mustang may never have made it through the ’70’s. I think someday, the Mustang ll will have it’s day. By the looks of the bidding, sadly, not yet. Great find. Most of these were trashed and their steering was used in hotrods.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Newsflash (fwiw) There’s a website for King Cobra’s ( website for everything) and it seems, the ’78 King Cobra was the least produced Mustang ll, some sites say 4,900 were made, with less than 1200 remaining.

      Like 1
  3. AMCSTEVE

    I like everything about it. I would get it running and drive it as is. But the no title issue is a deal breaker.

    • rick

      i agree , i sell cars all the time and with no title its way too hard.

      • Thomas Diliberto

        I live in Vermont. No title no problem. Vermont doesn’t title cars 15 years or older.Other states do too. I can get it registered and have a transferable registration and then sell it to a title state and the buyer can get a title…easy. I sell classic car mustangs all the time. You want a car, I buy it and sell it back to you.

  4. Cassidy

    “let’s wait until dark so I can take a picture of black interior…” Seller has earned a double-duh award

  5. JW

    I would love this car and I know the wife who owned a new 78 Cobra would. We loved her’s but she needed a 4×4 to get to work and back in the Chicago area winters and she wasn’t getting mine anymore so we traded it for a Bronco. Oklahoma isn’t that far away but we are planning a another state move and I need no more vehicles to haul.

    • AMCSTEVE

      Speak English please…

  6. Rando

    I may get roasted for this, but I always thought the Mustang II was a reasonably good looking car. I was all of 8 when it came out in 74. I loved all the cars then and could name everything on the road. I had toy car mustangs and would look at the design features. How it kept some styling cues from the original but was it’s own individual car. I didn’t realize all this back then. But do remember looking at how the front had some neat curves to it.

    Yes it is not it’s predecessor. But it wasn’t really meant to be an extension. Ford realized the Mustang was on it’s way to becoming Fat Elvis. It was porkier, didn’t perform as well and was not the original anymore. So the brought it back to its roots. A smaller car that was affordable and usable for the masses. They went back to the formula that made the original so successful. And there were a blue million of them back in the day. Just like the original. it was a success for Ford.

    It was the Malaise Era as we call it now. Nothing performed as it used to. Except maybe a T/A. Camaros were pretty choked up. GTOs were giant (pretty though, I thought) blobs. Vette’s? – every young boy wanted one. Still how good were they in 74? And the gas crunches and all that. So for the time, the Mustang was on equal footing with many of the cars of the day. And Ford sold a bunch of them. What they are in business to do – sell cars.

    Like 1
  7. Vegas Vic

    I agree with Rando! as a High Schooler, often high, the Cobra was a slick, nice set of wheels. A good gearhead can torque up the engine and she will run fine and fast!
    The Ladies, back in Dakota, the super seventies, liked the looks of the Cobra and the Mustangs… so theres that. Dial up early RUSH, Allmans, crank the KISS and cruise forever!

  8. BillB

    I saw a Mustang II 2+2 at a local car cruise this past summer with a 460 V8 Police Interceptor in it, hardly forgotten. As far at this “King” for sale, I hope the seller can produce the buck tag with “KC” on it.

  9. phil

    Jeff unfortunately this mustang II is hard to verify without the factory ford build tag present similar to satellite & gto base body.

  10. ccrvtt

    Mustang II’s, like some generations of Corvettes (my beloved C4, for instance), get very little love. These were cleverly styled, underpowered, and remarkably popular. There were 135,000 Mustangs produced in 1973, the last year of the “Bloated Elvis” cars and over 177,000 Mustang II’s produced in 1974, and over 188,000 in 1975. Probably made a lot of Ford execs think they had made a brilliant decision.

    The Ghia notchbacks were really quite elegant small cars, perfectly suited for young female professionals (this is true, I dated one). The King Cobras were the only performance-looking cars available from the blue oval. I saw one that had been resto-modded in a magazine a few years back. Looked great.

  11. Rustytech Member

    I was in my early 20’s when these hit the showrooms. Everything was under powered at that time. I too liked the look especially compared to the monstrosities of 1971-72 mustangs. The good news is there are numerous power upgrades for these small block Fords. This could be a fun car, and I think they will grow in value in the future.

  12. Steven C

    Had a 78 mustang II coupe with a built 302 in it in high school, car was super fast. Handling was pretty good, rode much smoother than fox body mustang. Loved that car.

  13. Wayne Thomas

    A really compelling package is a V10 Malaise Mustang.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksnrd09v4QE

  14. Prowler

    Growing up the only reason I liked these were that Farrah Fawcett drove her white and blue one on Charlie’s angels

  15. Ck

    Hey Prowler ya beat me to the Farrah Fawcett reference .LOL .Do you think Kate Jackson was pissed that they made her drive the Pinto? I guess we know who Charlie’s favorite angel was.

  16. HeavyHauler

    In 1986, the year I graduated from high school, I bought a 1976 cobra 2 , it was blue white graphics and a 302 4 speed I gave 600.00 for it cleaned it up put a set of duel exhaust on it. and a set of turbo tech tires drove it for a couple of weeks and traded it and 200.00 bucks for a 1969 Z-28 automatic small block gauges horseshoe shifter…. I put a set of vette rally’s on it and week or so later went to Paris Island…. to become a United States Marine… came home and traded the Z-28 for a 1963 Porsche 356…. oh if I only had a few of the cars I had growing up…. I’d be a happy man…..

  17. GhiaBill

    I love the Mustang IIs. My first car was a 76 Ghia that I still own and right now I have the exact car shown here fully restored that I show at MCA events. It always gets a lot of attention. The cars are fun to drive and are not something you see everyday anymore. In fact, I got stopped twice on the way to dinner last night by people who wanted to look at my Ghia.

  18. Mike_B_SVT

    Marti Auto Works has Marti Reports available for these, so not a big deal to very the King Cobra option. $18 and 7-10 day turn around time (add $10 for same day service). Not a big deal any more.

    Always loved the Mustang II’s. Would love a King Cobra as a daily driver, but 302 / manual trans is a must.

  19. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Think about how many hot rods would never have been without the Mustang II front end. There used to be one of these in the same color combo that sat on some property beside a home not far from here I live. It never had a for sale sign on it. I could never get up the nerve to stop because since being attacked by a roaming German Shepherd, my days of just trespassing on to someone’s property are over. One day I drove by and it was gone.

  20. Rob S

    These cars are cool and when they start fetching 5 figures people will really start noticing them. Unfortunately, the no title issue is big issue to me.

  21. Ken Knoerr

    I beg to differ on your remark about the V-8 Mustang II hatchback being nose heavy. I had a ’75 Mach 1 with the 302 and it was damn near perfectly balanced and handled beautifully. Further, with the RIGHT winter tires, it actually was not that bad a winter car. If you ran your summer wide ovals, it would ‘float’ all over the place. I’ve put up with all the Mustang II bashing over the years. The fact is, given the governments emissions legislation of that day, there weren’t any decent performance cars during that period. My Mach 1 did 0-60 in 8 seconds which was very good for the time. Tired of people bashing it when they have no idea of that period. I loved that car!

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