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Perfect Patina: 1976 Ford Mustang Cobra II

So, what to say about a Mustang II. I was down with Ford’s pony from 1964.5 through ’70. I took a bit of a gulp at the ’71-’73 BIG Mustang but really had a, “Are you serious?” moment when the Mustang II was introduced for the ’74 model year. I have not looked closely at one of these, ever, so it’s time to do so and give it an objective shake. This 1976 Mustang Cobra II is located in Livermore, California and is available, here on Facebook Marketplace for $2,800.

The remarkable thing about the Mustang II (’74-’78) is how well it sold; it was absolutely accepted by the consuming public. Based on the Ford Pinto, the Mustang II managed to sell 386K copies in ’74, compared to 134K of the larger, ’73 version. By ’76, things had settled back quite a bit with 187K units rolling off of the four assembly lines tasked with Mustang production. Two body styles were offered, a two-door coupe and a three-door hatchback.

Our subject car is adorned as a Cobra II model which, according to mustangspecs.com, included: “Wide-length stripes running on top of the car, stripes along the lower body, with “COBRA II” in the center section, front and rear spoilers, rear quarter window louvers with chrome snake emblem, simulated hood scoop, snake decals on each fender, a chrome snake emblem in the blacked-out grille, brushed aluminum instrument and door panels, and styled steel wheels. The Cobra II package was only available on hatchbacks, and came in White w/Blue stripes, Blue w/White stripes, or Black w/Gold stripes, and was limited to Blue, White/Blue, or Black interiors“. Other than the aluminum wheels, which look quite nice, this pony has been rode hard, put away wet, and then allowed to bake in the sun, judging from its very burned, topside appearance. The body is straight and the rust is mostly surface in nature though the passenger quarter is starting to show some rust-through. The spoilers, scoops, and louvers, things that get knocked off or go missing, are all still in place.



Not the actual engine!

For power, this Mustang is harboring the standard 93 net HP, 2.3 liter, four-cylinder, in-line engine – not exactly something synonymous with the famed Cobra designation. There is no image of the engine included, this is just a shot of a generic 2.3 from the ’70s. The seller states that this pony is a non-galloper – no indication what’s keeping it stationary. When running, you can row the gears with his Cobra’s four-speed manual transmission.

The interior is rough and that’s probably the result of sun and heat exposure. The blue vinyl upholstery and dash pad are split and the instrument panel is very faded and discolored. The rear seat is in better shape but the passenger side seat bottom looks like it met the business end of an El Producto. Hard to speculate why there is a red steering wheel in place. Unfortunately, no original radio, actually no radio at all.

So, what does one do with a four-cylinder Cobra Mustang? Somehow, resto-modding this example seems a viable way to go as restoring it to original shape probably isn’t going to garner a lot of interest. And the Mustang II will domicile a Windsor V8, so there could be some neat upside here though the required investment is always something to consider. What do you think, what’s the best way to go to return this Mustang II to road-worthy status?


  1. Avatar photo Al_Bundy Member

    Opinions will be all over the comment section to be sure. Nothing exciting about the 2.3 OHC other than it is slow and will run forever with timing belt changes at reasonable intervals. I’ve owned ten of them, including turbos.

    The Mustang ll was a Pinto based car as most readers here know. My 22 year old son hates the Mustang II (74-78), not me. By 1973 the Mustang was way too big, sales way down. Enter the 1974 Mustang II that had no V-8 option. ’75 on models had the choked 302 that could be made to run with a few easy mods. Plenty of small block 4V intake manifolds available to make them really move at the time…Now accessing spark plugs and exhaust manifolds with such little clearance at the shock towers was the only PITA. Love ’em or hate ’em they were right for the time.

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo piston poney

      THE MUSTANG ON IS NOT BASED ON THE PINTO WE HAVE 2 OF THEM, we traded the 3rd one, one is a hatchback the other is a coupe

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Steve vivod

        Then why do the front floor pans, seats, front and rear suspension, 2.3 along with the 2.8 v6 including engine and transmission mounts,radiator wheels and brakes all swap between them.

        I currently own both.

        Like 2
  2. Avatar photo Moparman Member

    This IMMACULATE 57k mile, 4 Spd/V-6 Cobra failed to reach its’ Reserve at $12,100, a few hours ago on ebay today, an identical twin to this sad copy! Aside from the fact that it was priced beyond my budget, it was also approximately $2k+ in transport charges away from me!


    Like 4
  3. Avatar photo Jesse Mortensen Staff

    I want to buy this, redo the interior, drop a V8 into it, put a Barn Finds sitcker on it, and take it to next year’s Concours d’Lemons!

    Like 9
  4. Avatar photo OIL SLICK

    Unless you can get the ask down it’s to expensive for lemons

    Like 4
  5. Avatar photo Miguel

    It is not the “perfect patina”. This car needs to be put back to the Farrah Fawcett specification.

    I didn’t realize the Cobra II came with the 4 cylinder engine.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo lc

      Yes indeed. The C-II was a just dress up package only available in hatchback form.

      Like 3
  6. Avatar photo UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Why did Ford design it with the wheels and wheel arches in the wrong proportion versus the rest of the car?

    Like 2
  7. Avatar photo Steve R

    It’s a 4 cylinder late-70’s Mustang that, even when new had nothing going for it other than it’s looks. Now it’s not even a viable project due to what a better example could be found for, it’s $750 parts car if the specialty body pieces are salvageable.

    Someone could make a case of it being a worthwhile project, but that’s all dependent on price, at $2,800 it’s too expensive to be worth considering.

    Steve R

    Like 5
  8. Avatar photo scott m

    Letting a cr rust from the top down is not patina, it is lack of care. Patina to me involves care over the long term and the gradual burnishing away of paint via washing waxing and polishing

    Like 5
  9. Avatar photo Arthur

    Jim O’Donnell wrote: “So, what does one do with a four-cylinder Cobra Mustang? Somehow, resto-modding this example seems a viable way to go as restoring it to original shape probably isn’t going to garner a lot of interest.”

    Then you might find this article I found very interesting:

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Jim ODonnell Staff

      Hubba-Hubba! Way cool.



      Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Chuck

    This here is proof we see the good, bad, and ugly on these hallowed pages.

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Ralph Boone

    I had the 78 Cobra II with the cobra lettering in big letters rd/gold 302 4 speed Holly 4b and crane cam. Loved it.

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Mark

    Note to self……liberal amounts of tire shine and using the word “patina” is crucial when selling….

    Like 1
  13. Avatar photo Phlathead Phil

    My ‘74 Pinto had the same engine. This one looks like a mix of Maverick & Pinto.

    Maybe they could have named it the “Pinverick” or how about “Maverto?”

    And, I KNOW what you are thinking if you play around with the two names, and drop a letter or two! LOL🤪

    Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Alec

    Rad, and a decent price for one that has a motor. That 4cyl is stronger than the 302/5.0 and can do 400hp with a turbo and head bolts without breaking a sweat. SVO and such, kicking the 5.0 fox’s butt. We don’t talk about the V6, that’s the only bad motor they put in these. Shame it’s a smog year.

    Like 0

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