Museum Piece: 1974 Ford Mustang II

If I have learned one lesson in life, it is the importance of maintaining a sense of humor. This can get you through the darkest time, and it is a character trait that the owner of this 1974 Ford Mustang II seems to have in abundance. This little car isn’t perfect, but it seems to offer potential buyers relatively clean classic motoring on a budget. If that sounds like a winning proposition, you will find the Ford located in Thousand Oaks, California, and listed for sale here on Barn Finds Classifieds. You can take this little beauty home for $5,500 OBO.

This Mustang is not a “one owner, little old lady” proposition, but it isn’t that far off it either. It was initially owned by a lady of more mature years, but it was purchased off her by the Petersen Automotive Museum for their “Mustangs Forever: 50 Years of a Legend” exhibition back in 2014. It remained part of the museum’s inventory until its current owner purchased it. Whether you love or hate the Mustang II, it has to be acknowledged as part of the breed’s DNA, and this one didn’t look out of place on display.

The Mustang is finished in Polar White, and the owner does acknowledge a repaint at some point in the car’s past. He believes that this was completed to a high standard, and it still presents well today. There are some rust issues, but these are minor. There is a small rust area in front of the wheel well on the passenger side, but it would be easy to fix. The only other issue is an area near the trunk seal on the driver’s side. The owner says that people have suggested the possibility of accident damage, but he has been over the rear of the car carefully, and there is no evidence of any repair work. It could be one of those weird one-off rust spots that occur from time-to-time. The overspray on the seal would suggest that someone has tried to repair it once before, with no success. Beyond that, the news is all positive. The floors look spotlessly clean and in the sort of condition that you might expect for a car that has spent its life in sunny California.

For its introduction in 1974, the Mustang II was not offered with a V8 engine option. In this car, what we find is the 2.3-liter “Lima” 4-cylinder engine, which is backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. The owner readily admits that this is not a fast car but says that it could embarrass your local VW and weedwhacker scene with its raw horsepower! With 88hp on tap, speed is not a priority here. The journey down the ¼-mile would take 19.4 seconds, while the Mustang II will run out of breath at 99mph. The little Ford remained on display for 4-years, and the current owner did all of the work required to return it to a roadworthy state. This has paid off because this little classic now runs and drives well.

The Window Sticker for the Mustang II makes interesting reading because that original owner didn’t go mad with the options list. She chose to spend $59 on an AM radio and a whopping $96 on luxury interior trim. Beyond that, what we are looking at is an interior that is about as basic as it comes. However, it has survived remarkably well for a car that was considered “disposable” in the 1970s. The dash pad has a crack in it, while the console is crumbling. The seller refers to it as turning into bacon bits, which I quite like! There is also a small crack in the rear trim, but it doesn’t look too bad. I searched for a console to match the original, and I’ve come to the same conclusion as the seller; They are virtually impossible to find. The same is true of the dash pad, although you could fit a dash cover or perform a repair using a product like Polyvance. However, the interior looks presentable, and there are no urgent repairs required. For those buyers who want to give the interior a bit of a period boost, the owner is willing to include an AM/FM/8-track player. It’s tempting, but my instinct tells me to leave the interior stock.

The original Mustang was the right car in the right place at the right time. As a result, it sold in extraordinary numbers. However, towards the end of its life, it had morphed from lean and mean to obese and serene. The Mustang II proved that lightning could strike twice in the same spot because it hit the market just as an energy crisis was ripping the heart out of large car sales. That is one reason Ford managed to sell 296,041 cars in that first year of production. The Mustang II probably isn’t the most desirable car to wear the blue oval badge. Still, as the Petersen Automotive Museum has proved, it does deserve recognition for its unique contribution to the badge’s history. We’ve seen plenty of different Mustang IIs over the years here at Barn Finds, but finding an entry-level example as nice as this one is a rarity. It deserves to go to a good home where it can be appreciated, and I honestly hope that the new owner has a sense of humor that matches the current owner’s. Life can be too serious at times, and we all need something to plaster a smile on our faces. This little classic could well be it.

If you have a classic that needs a new home, list it on Barn Finds today! Find more info about selling on Barn Finds here.

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Comments

  1. Classic Steel

    A very very nice Mustang. I hope it stays cared for and kept original.

    People sometimes state why did they make the lil stang. People need to realize this Mustang saved the car from not having a gap year or non existence.. (Camaro took some some time off)

    Its a great lil Mustang..

    Like 11
  2. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    The young seller has a good sense of humor and did a very good job of describing the car. The condition is outstanding for what it is and it is affordable to most anyone wanting to get into the hobby. Some might say it’s not worth the ask but that’s debatable. I agree with the seller that it probably draws a lot of attention as any car event. If you see a Mustang II at a car show, it’s probably not going to be a base model like this one. I wouldn’t call the hand brake housing a console and I’m surprised that the seller claims they’re impossible to find; I mean, Ford made a ton of Mustang II’s so you would think you could find one somewhere. I’d try to fabricate one from metal and cover it with matching red vinyl as the crumbling mess really detracts from an otherwise clean interior. Good luck to the seller, it’s a nice little classic Ford.

    Like 11
    • Zagamoochie

      This car brings back memories, my buddy in high school had the 78’ ghia version with a 302, total sleeper we had lots of fun challenging big muscle cars at red lights, they would laugh until the little mustang laid “ONE” strip of rubber all the way to the next light, they would still beat us badly at the next light but that first surprise was worth it!!

      Like 7
      • Superdessucke

        Cool, a buddy of mine in high school also had a ’78 Ghia, though with the 4-cylinder and automatic. It was also a sleeper, though in a very different sense.

        Like 3
      • JMB#7

        “A sleeper of another kind” = Never woke up??? That’s funny, you should get royalties for that line.

        Like 4
    • Alec

      Thank you! I thought the same about the “console” but then I remembered almost all of the low-spec Mustang IIs were junked 30-40 years ago. I do like the metal idea, though.

      Like 2
    • John O

      I was a young account executive at Grey Advertising when they were doing the advertising for the Mustang II. Their line was, “Mustang II Boredom Zero”. Seems even funnier now than it did then.

      Like 6
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    What a sweet Mustang II. Great to see a stripper model like this survive. The young seller did a fine job describing the car and injecting some humor. He seems like he knows quite a bit about the Mustang II. I can see how this would be an attention-grabber at Cars and Coffee. Approached with the right attitude (as the seller has done), this could be lots of fun for the new buyer.

    Like 7
    • Alec

      Thanks!

      Like 1
    • Paul Tully

      Cool little car, i would probably walk right past half a dozen 67 – 70’s at a cars and coffee just to look at this, not everything has to be a 428 CJ to be considered a classic

      Like 1
      • Alec

        The local Mustang club has a mint 40th Anniversary V6 convertible and two identical 2005s, down to the shift knob. Dunno why they don’t like this one. It’s hard getting excited about 65-70s anymore, love them, but you’ve seen one of each trim level you’ve seen them all.

        Thanks!

  4. Steve Hafner

    My parents ordered a 1975 Mustang II Ghia for my mom to drive on Thursdays to the hairdresser and grocery store. I sold it a few years ago with 18,000 original miles on it, when she stopped driving. They had even taken it on a few trips when it was new – which means it would have had around 10,000 miles on it when it was 30 years old. ( The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree – I have a CT6 that’s over four years old with 3,000 miles on it !!! )

    Like 7
  5. Frank D

    Two mistake Ford made calling this a Mustang and calling the new Ecar a Mustang. They don’t deserve the name! Pinto comes mind!

    Like 2
    • Ganjoke

      Frank,
      Remember the first Mustang was just a rebodied Falcon.

      Like 10
    • Alec

      You want a funny story? The Mach E is the new most hated Mustang, the II is the old one. The first press photo of the E is the same color and location I took a photo of my II when I bought it.

      Like 3
      • man ' war

        From that picture, it looks like Tesla’s relative. Does not look like a Mustang. Even the II had a little resemblance.

    • local_sheriff

      …that’s why they added the II for this model…

      I get your point but as time goes by I have to admit cars like this Mustang earns it place in history and we should appreciate that some folks actually care for them. And I’m confident it’ll get tons more attention at your Cars’n’Coffee than any red 1st gen Mustang HT (of course for all the wrong reasons)

      Like 3
      • Stephen R Hafner

        When I was trying to sell my mom’s ( from the post, above ) I took it to a local Mustang show which had over 50 cars. It got just as many looks as the others, but I still brought it back home . . . with a trophy for BEST interior !!! I guess they liked that shag carpeting LOL

        Like 5
  6. Karl

    It would fit right in the Yugo, chevette and pinto section! And you would have to pay me to come to THAT museum!

    Like 3
    • Tom

      Funny…it caught your attention enough to read the article and even leave a post!

  7. CJM

    Price is getting more realistic, but he’s still high for what it is. Little interest in these cars, especially a strippy white notchback coupe. That being said, at least its a manual and has the interior upgrade and I’d buy it for the right price. (IMO 2500-3000 on a good day to the right buyer) Contrary to what seller says these cars do NOT have great legroom. Far less than Fox body era Mustangs. I test drove one once and barley fit. I’m 6’4″ but short legged for my height. I needed more legroom to be comfortable.

    Like 3
    • Alec

      I wish they were that cheap. I’m looking for a hatchback and even Ghias in not-great shape are selling for 5k. Motor-less cars do about 4k on Craigslist, and I’ve seen cars that have sat since the Foxbody debuted go for $500 looking like some of the Mopars that come through this site with no floors lol.

      As far as legroom goes, would you believe I fit better in this than I do in my friend’s ’68 Malibu? I haven’t sat in a Fox though.

      Like 1
  8. Robert Thomas

    My sister had a blue one and she totaled it. It was really a pretty gutless car. Her next car, the diesel VW Rabbit was more fun.

    Like 3
  9. wifewontlikeit

    My Mom owned a loaded fastback. One of the worse cars ever. Sorry, but it drives worse than a Pinto, IMHO, it should have stayed in the museum as “extinct 1970’s design technology”.

    Like 3
  10. Ron

    Yeah, yeah. It’s easy to “Monday morning quarterback” from 47 years out. Was it the right car for the time? Many people thought so. It looked like our days of big V8’s were behind us and we’d have to start moving to more of a European mindset – smaller cars with less power that were still fun to drive (or as fun as OPEC would allow us to have). Don’t forget – the Mustang II was the Motor Trend Car of the Year for 1974. I had one for 6 years. I wish I had found a way to hang on to it. Not a monster machine, but lots of good memories.

    Like 10
  11. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I’m glad the Mustang II existed. Without it we probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the many models which came later, including the incredible new models. It’s easy to throw stones at it, just like it is easy to throw stones at most any 70’s car, given the difficulties that all manufacturers were having. The Mustang II was a product of its times, actually a rather successful one.

    Like 12
  12. Scott Hall

    Love it or not Mustang II kept the nameplate alive. Even the early Third generation ones severely lacked power but stayed 14 years and became powerful.
    It’s hard to imagine it competed with the Chevy Monza. However, the Monza wasn’t derided for being a Monza. However, if the Camaro were moved to the Monza/Vega platform, it would have been the most hated Camaro.
    Imagine a 2 door notchback Camaro with a 4 cylinder and padded roof.
    Name recognition is stronger than the car.

    Like 8
  13. Maestro1 Member

    I cam very close to buying the Ghia version of this car, which I always thought would make a good driver in a later Year/Model. It had a V-8, so
    grunt was not an issue. I missed it by two days. Someone buy this; it’s great.

    Like 1
    • Paul

      I know where there is a Gia, blue in color and decent. Vinyl top needs replaced.

  14. JMB#7

    Maybe my buddy was the worst driver ever. Or maybe the Mustang II was the worst handling car ever. My recollection was severe chassis roll, and very little grip. My other friend had an El Camino that would destroy the Mustang II. I respect all Mustangs before and after the Mustang II, but I just cannot warm up to a Mustang Too. As for all cars in the ’70s, there were other other choices which were much better in my opinion.

    Like 1
    • Alec

      Economy car on 13×5.5 wheels vs A-body GM with a V8… Yeah I’d hope the Elco would destroy the M2 lol. It handles pretty good for a ’70s car, or at least I hope it would considering the popularity of Mustang II front end kits.

      Like 3
  15. man ' war

    On all my small cummuter cars that I’ve owned, I’ve never paid 5k or more for any: 76 Chevette/1.6@30k miles – $2250 (daily driver); 78 Mercury Bobcat/2.3@23k(123k likely, and I rarely used) miles – $1400; 76 Ford Pinto/2.8 – $1000 (flipped); 81 Mercury Capri owned long time ago – $1600(daily driver). The only OLD and SMALL car that I have paid $5k for is my 90 Ford Mustang LX, and that’s because they demand more depending on the condition. Even then, I have come across Foxbody Mustangs for under $5k.

    More than likely that little old 74 Mustang II’s 2.3 will need some sort of maintenance put into it so I might be at $1500. The corrosion issues are not big, but an eye sore. I tried to sell my 78 Mercury Bobcat for $5k, and that price tag was dogged on this site where it was featured on. The condition was about the same as this 74 Mustang II. In the end, I could only muster $3k for the 78 Bobcat even though it had a rebuilt 2.3 engine with a Ranger head.

    Like 1
    • Alec

      If you can believe it, my dad actually wants a Chevette. In 2021! When/where/what condition were you getting these prices? In my research those are half or less of what they’re going for now. Almost wanted a computer-era ‘vette but it was a diesel and it was rough. Sold within the week for 2k, clean early ones are 4k (there’s a 76 for 6k but that’s a dealer). This is on Craigslist nationwide, so it’s not LA crazy prices, unfortunately.

      Like 2
      • man ' war

        I bought my 76 Chevette in 2011, and traded it in 2016 where that guy sold it within two months for 4k he said. I used to see it being driven around with a Texas plate mounted to the grill (ikes). I haven’t seen it in awhile so who knows maybe it’s in TX. It was a baby blue color. In 2014 I bought the 78 Bobcat, and it ended up in Utah in 2018 after I sold it. As far as I know the 76 Pinto ended up in the guys barn just parked nothing being done to it here in CO back in 2016. And my 81 Capri, I sold in 1999 for $500 because I was joining the Coast Guard, but then opted out.

        Like 1
  16. Christopher Gentry

    I always like the style of these. Fast nope. But a mustang , you bet. Small, sporty , AFFORDABLE, option it out like you want …. Beats the heck outta the mach E.(for that Ford should be ashamed And I sent a letter saying show. I’m sure their very concerned about my opinion ) And white on Red is my favorite color on any mustang.

    Like 5
  17. GREG MILLARD

    Launching the 1974 Mustang II four cyl auto equipped version put Ford Engineering into a panic state with over 300 Deg F trans oil temp!
    Emergency measures included adding a custom Long Mfg Div Borg Warner oil to air cooler and relegating car carrier travel to the LOWER LEVEL ONLY to avoid the killer heat induced by climbing the ramp. True story – and the heat was on to get the cars to showrooms.

    Like 2
  18. G patton

    Had a neighbor, 20 + years ago was moving had a green on he was planning on making a drag car out of. He moved and scraped the idea. Asked if I wanted it. It was still drivable then. He’d drive it to the shore occasionally. Car really struck me as ugly so I said thanks, not I really didnt care for the car.
    He scrapped it the day before he moved.

  19. Al_Bundy Member

    Talk about polarizing, not too many cars can collect 29 comments in 15 hours ! So many opinions favorable and not. It’s apparently pretty popular ! I love them, HS in the mid ’80s, a Holley 600 and exhaust work made the choked 302 come alive.

    Like 6
  20. bowmade

    To many miles for the Museum Piece price IMO. I’d offer less and build a fun sleeper with a clutch. Apologizes to the purist and those with Mecum mucus in their eyes.

    Like 1
    • Alec

      I was originally planning on the sleeper build, until I realized: The 6.75″ rear end wasn’t offered with the 105hp V6, which means it shatters at 100hp or so. If I have to replace the whole drivetrain to make it zippy, I’d rather start with a rougher example, maybe one without a drivetrain to begin with, instead of a nice runner. Aaaaand I’d prefer a hatch with T-tops but that’s just my taste :)

      Like 2
  21. Troy s

    One for the ladies, that was always my impression of these even as a child. I’m not going to bash it or Ford for making it after all it is technically a “Mustang II” not a Mustang. Ford wasn’t looking to build collectors items just mass amounts of sales. It worked for a while.
    As for the new E Mustang or Mach E, yuck-ola. Here we go again.

  22. Little_Cars David Bassett Member

    All that red plastic and plush carpet. The malaise-era interior finishes and surfaces did not fare well after a few seasons in the sun. Dried out and used up. ugh

  23. Jim

    With that much rust, it’s really hard to believe the “story” behind this car.

    Like 1
    • Alec

      Which part? The Petersen bit is pretty well documented (Car & Driver, Hooniverse, Top Gear, etc.) and the little old lady bit is straight from the Pete…

      Like 1
  24. Bigdlm

    I owned a ’74 Rustang II around 1978 or ’79. What a turd. Worst, gutless, most uncomfortable POS I ever owned, and I’ve had MANY cars. On the bright side, I traded it even-up for a ’73 Monte Carlo, which was best car I ever had. I think folks need to clear the brain fog and remember how crappy these “cars” really were.

    Like 2
    • man ' war

      Nostalgia.

  25. Gibson

    A bunch of money for a rack & pinion

  26. bruce baker

    @Bigdlm, yes I agree with you 100 percent. The 1973 Monte Carlo full frame coil spring car was a great ride. I miss mine, and it’s Erson street cam 350 V-8.

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