Low Reserve: 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra

The listing for this 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra already has one bid on it and the reserve is a measly $3,800. Now, while there are many readers who cast endless amounts of shade in the direction of the Mustang II, there’s nothing wrong with a manual transmission, V8 combination like this car features. Find it here on eBay and located in Idaho Falls, Idaho. 

King Cobras were generally sneered upon by enthusiasts due to wearing a nameplate often spoken of in highly reverent tones and seemingly out of place on a Mustang built for fuel economy, not speed. The King Cobra was fairly heavy on the visual branding, including some models sporting giant “Cobra” letters across the doors. Interestingly, the seller has a few King Cobras sitting around; why’s he giving up this one? It’s said to have been recently exhumed after a 20 year slumber in the garage.

The big story here is the ideal combo of eight cylinders and a manual transmission. More importantly, this car represents a likely swap candidate, and I’m largely OK with that. It makes sense, too – sell the stock 302 V8 for another hot rod project and slot in the modern mill of your choice. However, there’s no reason not to hold onto the stock powerplant and restore this Mustang back to factory condition. It makes good sounds – check out this great video test drive on YouTube of another King Cobra.

As one of the weaker Ford V8s made in the Malaise era, the 302 will find few friends here. But at least this car remains largely original, aside from the paint job and missing graphics. Often times, King Cobras are missing their cross-lace wheels, or the entirety of their graphics kit, leading to further letdown over a car already lending itself to disappointment. This one has all the right bits attached, along with the preferred transmission. I’d restore it – but it’s better off in the hands of someone with the time and bandwidth.

Fast Finds


  1. Joe

    This Car does not Start, Run or Drive. Probably needs everything. Big investment of time and money for a not-very collectible car. Very important points missed in the description.

  2. RandyS

    Like! They were unloved for a long time but have started to get a following. Will not likely appreciate much, original Fox Mustangs will lead the way on $$ as much more of a nostalgia play for many.

    This could be a fun street car/driver though. Add a cam, exhaust and some nice wheels. There would not be another one at the car show for sure.

    Like 1
  3. Steve R

    There is something odd about the passenger side firewall and inner fender. Why is there what looks like a battery cable sticking out from behind what looks like a home made patch?

    Steve R

    • SSPBill

      The battery does go back there against the firewall and sits directly on the inner fender. The positive cable is drapped over the snorkel. I don’t recall but I’m guessing the fracked piece is some sort of shroud/cover for the battery.

      • CATHOUSE

        It is a battery heat shield.

        Like 1
    • Jay E.

      Is that is the battery box area, with no battery in it? The low bid value reflects what these are worth much better than anyone’s opinion. I don’t think you are ever going to see these become a collectable where they are going to be worth the money to restore properly. Wrong era and not enough buyers interest. Even perfect ones don’t sell for that much.
      Was this one originally black? They looked nice in that color.
      You would have thought the seller would at least have vacuumed the floor.

      Like 1
      • CATHOUSE

        Yes, that is the battery box with no battery present. The listing says the car was originally black with orange stripes.

  4. Earl

    That is where the Batt. sets it obviously didn’t have one in it. If you add much power to these you would have to beef up the trans and rear axle they just were not built to take a break power

  5. Dan

    That poor car looks like I painted it.

    Like 1
  6. Gay Seattle Car Nut

    I’ve always loved the Mustang II. I’ve found it more attractive than the later version of the first generation Mustang. Why most Mustang fans don’t like the Mustang II is beyond me. What was it about the II that people hated so much?

    Like 2
  7. Retired Stig

    Damnation with faint praise, but the faux muscle cars of this era are so cheesy, they are almost cool. The sad thing about them is the dreadful build quality, especially the body cladding and decals. Not for me, thanks.

  8. AR

    …sw*p? …shhh…. Why does this word even exist in the car world glossary? Only grudging reason to contemplate the thought would be a zombie apocalypse: important things would no longer matter; only survival.

    Aren’t our best tenancies toward being curators?

  9. DG

    Got my shade ready. After spending thousands to restore this you still end up with a 130 hp Mustang that thinks its a Trans Am.

  10. Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

    I wonder if one could easily pass smog with a higher compression 302 built for decent power. With that, one could build a great sleeper.

  11. Wayne

    Install a 5.0 (EFI), 5 speed (easy swap) and upgrade the diff and suspension.
    Could be fun. I like the body lines.

  12. Paul

    Mustang ll English definition….. JUNK
    If you have ever owned one you may agree. Nothing like the earlier mustangs save you money there are so many other mustangs that are worth owning.
    74 through 78 mustangs are worthless.


      Mustang IIs may be junk to you but there are people out there who happen to like them. You might want to keep in mind the old saying “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” the next time you think about posting your opinion. I have seen plenty of postings here on this site that are of vehicles that I would have zero interest in ever owning. They are still interesting to read about though.

      Like 1
  13. Paul

    You are 100% correct cathouse. I guess I just know these cars to well and should keep that to myself. When I see mustang ll and Pintos I go overboard thinking that I am helping people not to invest there hard earned money in one of these cars.
    I like early mustangs and Camaro’s a lot and sometimes forget that other people don’t like either of them.


      No problem Paul. We all know that every vehicle made has its shortcomings and weak points. I see no problem when those of us with experience with a particular vehicle point out what to look for if someone is considering purchasing such a vehicle.

      Whether or not a Mustang II would be a good investment or not is really not known. Predicting the classic car market is like predicting the stock market, who really knows how the prices will go. This Mustang II could be a good starter vehicle for someone new to the hobby. It looks to be fairly complete and (hopefully) could be made road worthy with not a lot of money.

      Like 1

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