Mustangs Forever Exhibit Car: 1974 Ford Mustang II

The 1974 Ford Mustang II is an icon of sorts, and perhaps not in the best light. But that didn’t stop the likes of the Petersen Automotive Museum from including one in its exhibit, “Mustangs Forever: 50 Years of a Legend.” Now, if you’re telling the Mustang story in full, you have to acknowledge the II existed, and the seller contends this is one of the better examples still on the road. It’s not without its issues, but they seem limited to some bodywork needs. The seller provides a detailed overview of the car and its history here on craigslist, where he’s asking $7,000 for the coupe body survivor with a four-cylinder and manual transmission.

The interior is in stunning condition with excellent red carpets, bucket seats, door panels, and dash, along with the rarely seen manual transmission. The seller notes that the story of how the Mustang II ended up in the exhibit is due to Petersen needing a specimen of one of the most unloved Mustangs ever made, and raced down to Palm Springs to buy an example that had been in the longtime care of an older female owner. It certain;y has all of those hallmarks being a lightly equipped model with the smallest engine offered, which the seller notes is a huge selling point for California buyers, as it will not have to be smogged. This doesn’t matter much to the rest of the country, and a 302 swap seems likely given the notchback body and manual transmission configuration.

There are some interesting opinions offered by the seller in the description about which engine is most desirable, nothing that the V8 cars tend to be priced quite high if in good shape, not to mention being slightly played out at car shows by this point. The listing notes that the Mustang has 90,000 miles and is an absolute stripper of a car with no power features, no FM radio, and just a door decor strip and bumper overriders listed as cosmetic “enhancements” offered by the factory. It has all the signs of being a classic little old lady special, and those kinds of cars are charming in their own right. The engine bay isn’t super clean but it’s not bad – it’s just surprising it wasn’t detailed better for being an exhibit car.

Here’s what’s surprising: despite being a West Coast car, it has some rust issues under the trunk lid and in the lower body panels. The Mustang has also been repainted at some point, and to me, it seems possible that prior accident damage is what’s driving this oddly concentrated rust around the trunk lid. The overspray on the rubber trim strip is another telltale sign of an imperfect respray, so there will definitely be some cosmetic flaws for the next owner to address. The seller is asking all the money for a Mustang II but presents a fairly detailed argument as to why it’s worth it. Give it a read and let us know if you agree with his sentiments about the value proposition of a clean Mustang II.

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  1. nycbjr Member

    Never seen one without a console, gives off a British roadster vibe to me.

    As unloved as these are, they have some charm, sold well and kept the Stang alive till the fox body.

    Like 8
  2. Howard A Member

    The “Forgotten” Mustang. For years, publications that sold cars, Mustang classifieds ended with 1973, they didn’t even acknowledge the Mustang ll existed. Even Charlies Angels, the then hottest TV show promoted them, it wasn’t enough. While they sold a bunch, most rusted and never repaired. Junkyards were full of these. Petersen had a good reason to feature one, if it wasn’t for the Mustang ll, we may have lost Mustang forever. I thought, for the time, the Mustang ll was a great car. It was the Fox body ones I didn’t care for. Tell you what, I’d love to have this, but naturally, not for $7g’s,,,they aren’t that nice, still a Pinto on steroids.

    Like 10
    • lc

      Pinto on steroids? It has a 2.3 Lima!

      Like 1
  3. Bob_in_TN Member

    The Craigslist ad is lengthy but worth the read, humorous as the seller discusses the car and its place in Mustang history. I agree with the seller, the basic models were once everywhere but now are gone. For that matter, finding any Mustang II in decent condition is tough. I have friends who have beautifully restored ones, labors of love certainly. Not only at Cars & Coffee, but even at big Mustang shows, they will draw a crowd.

    Like 5
  4. robh693

    Looks like they just tried to paint over the rust with rattle can white spray paint. The overspray and droplets sure look like it.

    Like 4
  5. Vegaman Dan

    The only real positive mark the Mustang II made was the front suspension that has been now reproduced in the aftermarket as the standard for custom mod bases.

    Like 2
  6. Mark

    A notchback 74 in a “Mustangs Forever” exhibit? Park it outside for 3 years. Lol
    If the Peterson wanted to showcase the Mustang II and do it any justice they should have included “Sudden Death” in the display.

  7. ChevyTruckGuy

    It might be a toss-up, as to whether the Chevy Vega, or the Mustang II, was the most unloved vehicle of the 1970s. Even though I’m a lifelong Chevy guy, and come from a Chevy family, my first car was a 1978 Mustang II. I was 16 years old. When my Mom remarried, my stepdad had one of these that he had daily driven, but it had sat for a couple of years. He sold it to me for $1. It had 120,000 miles on it, and was not much different from this example. Notchback coupe, 4 cylinder, 4-speed. Vinyl seats, no a/c. But, an AM/FM radio and a rear defogger!! To say that this car was slow, was the understatement of year. With 88 raging horsepower, and 2.3 liters of pain underhood, this car could barely get out of it’s own way!! My uncle and I did some impromptu bodywork, with probably a full 20% of the body being filled with bondo. We painted it GM “basic beige”. It lasted me into my senior year, before it started to disintegrate around me, cosmetically and mechanically. Then, I bought my first Chevy! I still have a lot of good memories from my time with the Mustang II. Whenever I see one, I like to think back to the days of my youth.

    Like 5
  8. nlpnt

    Non-Ghia notchback, possibly the best left despite the trunk area issues. At least it’s not saddled (npi) with an automatic, and that upholstery pattern is an deluxe option (not sure if it was worth it in vinyl to get square instead of strip pleats, but the cloth version was a distinct upgrade and I think the shag-ish carpet seen on this car was part of the option). So, not a *total* stripper.

    Like 2
  9. T

    88 horsepower as I recall. My roommate had one with an automatic – I was shocked with the lack of power.

    • Howard A Member

      That was these small cars biggest problem, they had too big a shoes to fill. Europeans had been driving 4 cylinders for decades, but us Yanks, it was new territory. Most traded in their 460 LTD’s because of gas prices, and burned these things out. The 2.3, aside from the timing belt, which, being a non-interference motor, can be easily changed, are great motors and still used today. Silly Americans ( the Europeans must have thought), they want good gas mileage and power to pass, as well. I babied every 4 cylinder I had, and I’ve had many, and got great service, over 100K in every case, I just wasn’t the 1st one there, that’s all.

      Like 2
  10. douglas

    Did mice eat the brake console? If so then who knows what other damage has been done.

  11. EMC

    So many Mustang fans hate the 74-78 Mustang II’s, however this era was one more stroke of Lee Iacocca’s genius; for without its initial success Ford might have killed the Mustang altogether! It’s in my top five favorites, but I certainly appreciate the Mustang II!

    Like 3
  12. Dom Colucci

    My son had one he had the engine built up, a stall converter in a c4 that little pony would run…

  13. Christopher Gentry

    My father had 4 65/66 Mustang s spread out from 68 to 77. Then he bought a beige 76 Mustang II hatchback with the 4 banger and automatic. I was 7 and loved it. He was very disappointed. He was never a muscle car guy , buying the mustang more for their sporty handling and European style , but he said that Mustang II was the SLOWEST car he had ever owned. Personally I love Mustangs , have only owned one , a 99. But honestly think the 74-78 Mustang II was one sharp car. Just needs the 302. Or perhaps even a more modern 4 or 6

    Like 1
  14. Philip

    guess the writer did not notice the smog air pump attached to the rh frt side of the engine.

  15. Purpleflash

    These came out when I was in college. I loved it, as it I thought was a way back to the 64-65 Mustang size and look. My Friend at college had a red one and one weekend, where we had to drive hundreds of miles around the state,. I got to drive it quite a bit of those miles. this car was not slow or under powered, not sure what engine was in it but it had a stick which I just loved driving. Real fond and good memories!

    Like 1
  16. Purpleflash

    Absolutely hated the Fox-Body Mustangs.

    Like 1
  17. Gary

    $7,000? rofl

  18. davidricheh Member

    I love the base models that have survived, that is really something special. The ad is quite a fun read! I helped a friend sell one of these in the 80s…pale yellow in and out made it look pretty sweet.

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