Museum Piece: 1977 Ford Mustang II Ghia

I know the Mustang II still provokes howls of indignation, but my inner museum curator loves this car. All original and showing just 36,000 miles, this ’77 Mustang II Ghia perfectly encapsulates its moment in time and the state of the U.S. auto industry and market in that moment. As an historical artifact, it neatly tells a complex and important story; the problem with a somewhat unloved car like this is finding someone to preserve that story. So this one, kindly shared with us by reader Eric H. and listed here on craigslist in the greater Columbus, Ohio, area for $4,000, goes out to the custodians of history out there—you’re all my heroes! (Archived ad here.)

From an industry standpoint, this car illustrates ideas about platform sharing, downsizing, adaptation to regulations—how about a 93-horsepower V6 as an optional upgrade in a so-called sporty car—and styling trends. It also shows where the market was headed, away from performance and toward luxury, thanks again to regulations that challenged automakers’ ability to build engines that were both powerful and clean, as well as to geopolitical events (fuel crises) and to an insurance industry that had begun putting the squeeze on performance cars a few years earlier. And from an enthusiast standpoint, well, the Mustang II was kind of a dud, even when new, but it provided the template for the Fox platform Mustang that followed, to which the nameplate arguably owes its survival today.

So, the Mustang II is perfectly of its time and things that are of their time don’t often age terribly well. The detailing on this car, especially the Ghia-trim gingerbread, reads as baroque to modern eyes, and the comically tiny wheels are made visually even more so by a poor design that draws the eye to the minuscule faux-wire wheel ring in the center. The polyurethane coated body-color bumpers were a valiant effort to adapt to new safety mandates, but clearly the struggle was real. On this example, the polyurethane shows the only readily visible blemishes to this car’s silver finish; overall it presents as remarkably clean.

Inside, this baby is RED. How much more red could it be? None more red. The condition, with just a hint of wear on the heelpad under the pedals, backs up the low mileage. The seller notes that this Ghia sports the “Silver Luxury Package” color scheme, which is true, although the package itself was only offered for 1975 and ’76 (and would have featured cloth instead of vinyl upholstery). Instead, this car appears to have the Luxury Interior Group. Other options listed by the seller include a three-speed Cruise-O-Matic, air conditioning, and an AM/FM stereo. The interior’s biggest apparent flaw, shown below, is a crack in the rim of the steering wheel.

I know a lot of our commenters might say, “A museum should buy it.” I’m sure many would gladly do so, but the secret is that, generally, automotive museums don’t have the budget to buy cars, relying instead on donations and long-term loans. Preserving history is often secondary (at best) to the emotional and nostalgic reasons we buy, restore, preserve, and cherish the cars we do, but it’s crucially important. I hope somebody will be able to make the right emotional connection to keep this Mustang II in this condition!

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Comments

  1. ccrvtt

    Though I’m 6’3″ I’ve always preferred small cars. I was very disappointed when Cadillac came out with their version of the J-car back in the day. I expected the Cimarron to be a baby Cadillac – plush, luxurious, elegant. What we got was an ersatz BMW, with front-wheel drive, no less. Cheap, crappy throwaway cars that looked like warmed over Chevys.

    The Mustang II, on the other hand, was nicely styled and at least had a suggestion of upmarket ambiance with the Ghia versions. In 1977 nobody had performance worth getting excited about. Ford sold 153,173 Mustangs that year. Not too shabby considering the Olds Cutlass led the league with 632,755.

    This is a very nice example of what could be considered a statement car. It just depends on one’s interpretation of what that statement may be.

  2. Sal Monelli

    Don’t you just love the disclosure “showing just 36K miles”!!!!
    If a car was truly driven less than 1,000 miles per year, it must have a great story.., let’s hear it, instead of the BS to avoid any litigation!!!

    Like 1
  3. BillB

    It’s a ’78. The upholstery, dash wood grain type, back seat style and 85mph speedo are giveaways.

  4. elrod

    My father always bought Fords – ALWAYS. He got one of these as a company car and I remember how he absolutely hated the thing – like no other that he has ever owned. And he had a Chevette! He turned 90 yesterday. When I mentioned this car, he threw his coffee cup down and began swearing how Henry Ford would have lynched the engineers that created the Mustang II. If he saw one in a museum, I’m pretty sure he would attack it. It was indeed a dark time for the auto industry…

    Like 1
  5. angliagt angliagt Member

    Whoever buys this MUST HAVE a sense of humor –
    & a thick skin.

    • DUANE GRUBE

      Just because you don’t have a car don’t make fun of this one
      DUANE GRUBE

      • angliagt angliagt Member

        I’ve had many,many “unusual” cars,& even own a Midget right now.
        I’ve even owned a Maroon ’74 Mustang fastback.

  6. Nrg8

    My first car was 71 Maverick 2dr, 6cyl, 3 speed on the tree, that was that pewter green color, bench, no radio no extras except the browning frostshields and a set of G78-14 snow tires and a temro car warmer grandma gave me in 89 with 17000 miles. Still had its pie-cutter factory tires with dog dish caps on it. Classic wicker potpourri air freshener, yeah those ones. Pretty bare bones car. But essentially new, no fantastic story, my grandparents took his truck everywhere. Car was in the garage, used when the truck broke down. A little more after he passed. She was more the type to catch a ride with her friends to bingo cause the battery had died from sitting. Either way no fantastic story. Just the way some people were. Sadly, drove it into the ground, after 2 years when she started knocking and finally the clutch giving out, my dad said it’s a throw away car and Mavis went to the shredder. Coulda, woulda, shoulda….

  7. JW

    If it were not for these Mustangs the name would not have lasted 52 years continuously, they were a sign of the times and Ford did well selling them. There is one a couple blocks from me that we see it sitting in the street in front of a house but never seems to move, it’s a cream color with ginger interior.

  8. Postma

    I think half the girls in my high school had this as their first car (early 80’s). Don’t think I ever saw a dude driving one

  9. Michelle Rand

    Adore this. I tested a brown on brown version and thought it was great. I would own one just for the ‘throwback’ aspect.

    Like 1
  10. Tort Member

    My mother-in-law bought one new in the same color in 1977. Built in the era of throw away cars by the U.S. auto manufacturers. She bought it because she had a 65 Mustang.The 65 was hands down a much better car.

  11. Paul Hudson

    Maybe I’m just a child of the 70’s I was born in 1963. I’ve always liked these cars. They were a product of the times. Basically a fancy pinto. The fastback model looks pretty good if it’s a simple model not the Cobra. This would make a nice weekend car show driver and would get more attentions than most more collectable cars.

    Like 1
  12. Pa Tina

    Ripley’s Believe or Not is the museum that comes to mind.

  13. Leon

    Worse could have happened. The front wheel drive Probe was originally meant to be a Mustang

    Like 1
  14. ROTAG999

    My Brother in law bought a Ghia version from insurance company was a theft recovery had minor body damage and motor was not running. Had the V-6 with the fiber timing gear set it was in the bottom of oil pan in pieces. He got a new timing set and motor fired right off made pretty good money on it after body was fixed and touched up.

  15. Maestro1 Member

    It’s attractive for what it is and should be someone’s driver. I have a black with tan Ghia and it’s very nice for running around in. It’s also the smallest car I own.
    I can live without red interiors but the exterior is elegant and restrained. If you are looking for grunt off the line this isn’t it; but it performs well enough even on freeways where the engine gets noisy. Once again, a nice driver. Don’t expect anything regarding appreciation.

  16. 408interceptor

    Just brought my 78 out of long term storage so I can work on the barns roof. It’s the 302 powered II with 11,300 miles, the paint and decals are original. No interesting story here just an old car that was stored properly.

    Like 1
    • Superdessucke

      Is that a Cobra?

  17. On and On On and On Member

    Mustang II….. Boredom 0. At least that’s what the original advertising said.

    • Superdessucke

      Sure, after the first inning. After that boredom staged a rally and it was Mustang II … Boredom 12.

  18. Troy S

    I respect Pontiac and Chevrolet for keeping their pony cars true to their roots through thick and thin during the 70’s. With Ford it was all about dollars and how many can we sell, which is good business, just not very exciting.And the vast majority of the older stangs were low performance models anyways.

  19. Cary A Gay

    Mine’s was the first year model that body style came out. A 76. Really a half year model, a 77 body style with a 76 drive train. Lipstick Red was the color of mine with the white half vinyl. Fond memories of my car. And this one brought them back to life.

    • Phil

      I had a ’76 as well. But they actually came out in ’74. Just sayin..:-)

      Like 1
  20. CanuckCarGuy

    Saw a dark blue and tan Ghia last weekend, and it struck me in that moment that after all these years I’ve actually grown to like them – especially in that blue/tan colour combination. It even caught the wife’s eye, and she asked me what it was… a proverbial aligning of the stars, and my next project is now calling out to me.

    Like 1
  21. Bill Owens BillO Staff

    I agree it was the right car at the right time. So was the first downsized Thunderbird (1977-1979), even though it just caught down to size with the then GM and Chrysler personal luxury. And even though I’ve had 3 1978 Thunderbirds, I’ve always wanted a 1980-1982 Thunderbird as well, but a lot of people give them a bad rap just like these Mustang II’s.

    The thing is, the 1977-79 Thunderbird was what would have been the Elite, but the name change gave it magic and they sold nearly 1,000,000 in 3 years. If the Mustang had stayed like it was in 1973, Ford could have brought this model (Mustang II) out and called it something else, but it would have never sold as many as it did with the Mustang name, which sold over 1,000,000 in five years.

    Like 1
  22. W9BAG

    I’d prefer a Pinto wagon. I wouldn’t be as embarrassed to drive it.

  23. Jay E.

    I’ve always wondered why they called it a Mustang ll. It should just have been another (year) Mustang. Because of the ll it is always singled out as separate, rather than part of a lineage. Fortunately Ford must have figured this out and there was never a Mustang lll or lV.

  24. Bruce

    We bought a 1975 Mustang II in 1977 for my wife. It was in excellent condition with 11k miles, equipped with a 4 cyl / auto. I asked the girl why she was selling it and she said that it was too slow. My cousin was a Ford mechanic, so I figured he could get it running right. When he took it for a drive, he said, “what’s wrong with it? It runs just like they all do”. My wife liked the car, but I thought it was dangerously slow. I swear I could out run it in a 40 yard dash, and I am/was not that fast. My ’74 VW Bug was much quicker. On top of that it got horrible gas mileage coupled with a tiny gas tank. I don’t remember what the eta numbers were, but we could barely make it to the in-laws on a single tank (190 miles). We kept it for a few years and then moved up to a non-Flintstone’s vehicle.

  25. Troy S

    One good bi product of these mustang ll’s was that it turned all 73 and earlier mustang’s into instant classics long before other pony cars. The fox body mustang’s are revered today mostly because of the strong running 5.0 and the massive following it created. Those with the 2.3 were real slugs.

  26. Steve

    I go to a lot of cruise nights. It’s refreshing when I see a Mustang II with the right wheels and stance. I’m tired of looking at Fox bodies and first gen mustangs. I think this would be a neat car with a 5.0, t-5, some mini-light looking wheels, big brakes and lowered.

  27. 408 interceptor

    I had an opportunity to weigh my V8 air conditioned mustang II on a scale, it weighed 3,400 lbs! I know from working on these cars the bumpers are over 100 lbs each.

  28. Bob C.

    That Cologne v6 is a good selling point for sure.

  29. Skip

    I had a ’74 Mustang Ghia that was a nice little car that I loved driving; and I got it for a decent price at the time in the mid-80s. Downside was that it had belonged to a teenage girl who kept her foot in it when she drove, so the motor was somewhat weak. I only kept it a couple of months because it kept getting harder and harder to start…much less run. Ended up returning it to the seller. Wish I had kept it; but at that time my finances weren’t all that great. If I had been in a position to have had the engine rebuilt, that would’ve been a no-brainer!

  30. Paul

    I drove one. It was the worst car I ever drove…..well it was a tie with my 79 pinto. The car rusted out very quickly. (I lived in the rust belt)

  31. Ponyman1

    Amazing how everyone is an automotive expert and puts their two cents in on something they know nothing about…. Much less never owned. They Should go into automotive journalism(w9bag) I am sure with their wisdom they would go far….yeah right! Lmao

    Like 1
  32. chad

    Following up on pony’s comment above:

    I’d like to congratulate Nathan on his excellent write-up. To include all the correct realities of historical politicosocioeconogeological facts in such a susinct format as the one BF’s permits is an accomplishment to be lauded!

    “…a somewhat unloved car…”
    Now, the tenor of it may not B – as there are a good deal of folks that do appreciate the vehicle (google can link U to all the fan’s sites).

  33. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    This may not be my first choice, but if you have to have one, I would think that this is the one to get.

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