Storage Lot Find: 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra

We need not go into the sins of the Ford Mustang II, but instead, let’s focus on what makes this 1978 King Cobra a winner worth reviving. With a 302 V8 under the hood paired to a four-speed manual, it’s already looking like a project worth owning, but then you throw in the T-tops and the power disc brakes and plaid interior, and it becomes crystal clear this is the total package. The mesh wheels that were part of the King Cobra package are present and accounted for, and do wonders for the Mustang II’s homely appearance. Find it here on eBay with bids to $5,100 and no reserve.

The other add-ons as part of the King Cobra package include a rear “duckbill” style spoiler; aero enhancements like a front air dam and spats on the rear inner fenders; and the requisite decal kit. Amazingly, all of these parts are still attached to the King Cobra, and that almost never happens on non-running, project-grade examples. The bodywork looks excellent on this example, aside from a dent on the passenger fender and a small rust spot on the driver’s side floor pan at the rear outer seat mount. The dent, interestingly, came from when the Mustang was parked at a storage facility lot prior to being rescued and put up for sale.

It makes you wonder if someone left this King Cobra out in the elements for years. I get it’s not the most collectible car, but it deserves better than that. The list of desirable options continues inside, where you’ll find the matching red plaid interior, and of course, the desirable four-speed manual gearbox. The interior has held up well, aside from the carpets being somewhat filthy. All of the original parts appear to remain intact, including the steering wheel and shift knob, suggesting that this King Cobra is one of the few that hasn’t been pillaged for its desirable parts. The seller notes there is a rust hole on the driver’s side floor board.

Now, the non-running 302 is a bit of a surprise. To me, this has to be one of the easier engines to diagnose and get to at least turn over and sputter and cough, but the seller apparently isn’t going to try. More worrisome is if he knows it’s locked up so it’s just easier to list it as a non-runner that he knows very little about. Overall, the options and highly original condition make this King Cobra deserving of a rescue, even if its current valuation in various price guides would indicate it’s a fool’s errand to restore such a car. Keep it light: get it running, sort out the suspension, add an exhaust, and enjoy a sweet handling ugly duckling that makes great noises.


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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I agree with Jeff’s analysis. This looks like an essentially complete King Cobra which has been neglected. Too bad about the dented fender. Clean it up, get it running, do some upgrades as you go along (new carpet and upholstery would help a bunch), and have something representative of its era which is now rarely seen.

    Like 10
  2. alphasud Member

    Ironically I just watched a documentary on the Mustang 2. Gave me a new appreciation for the model. I thought the YouTube creator did a really good job putting the documentary together. Take a look and see if you come away with appreciation for the car.

    Like 10
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      Thanks alphasud for the link. I just watched the video. It does an excellent job of putting the car into proper context.

      Like 6
    • mike

      yes Thanks for the link look forward to watching it. So many times people bash cars of the 70’s and 80’s without putting them in their proper aspect. Sure it’s easy to bash the Mustang II now. But thinking of the car in it’s time period and with what Ford had to offer the duce wasn’t that bad. There were a few more cars much worse that it.

      Like 8
    • Timcooper62

      I just saved that link to my youtube account for later….thanks

    • Chad Onken

      Alphasud…I ALWAYS wondered what the hell happened to the Mustang in the 70s…and for that matter…all the way to the 90s!!! Thanks for sharing that link!!

  3. William Thomas Kircher

    The rust hole under the drivers floorboard? Could that be the first of many rust issues? Someone needs to get closer look and photos before assuming this could be a “light” project to get it going.

    Like 1
  4. Timcooper62

    I wonder if you can even source that upholstery fabric any longer

  5. K brown

    Did no one else notice it’s missing the ignition lock on the steering column? This may be one explanation as to why it hasn’t been cranked. These were really cool in the day. I was in high school 78-82 and the mother of a classmate had a black one with gold stripes/lettering. Personally, if I’m going to sock a wad of cash into a weekend driver it will be 68 – 70 muscle, anything from Detroit. Live the Fords, Mopar, and GMs from that era

    Like 2
  6. Bhowe Member

    I usually agree with the authors reviews but I have to disagree with his comments regarding the mustang II appearance. I find the styling quite attractive and in no way homely. I also think if one does a bit of research king cobras with t tops were quite rare. Trying to look up the details myself but it may make this car quite a find. For 78 they were one of the better performers made that year, and it takes very little massaging to really wake the 302 up.

    Like 6
  7. 6speed

    If I did something terrible and my punishment was being forced to own a Mustang II, this would be the one to get.

    Like 2
  8. TA

    I had a 78 Mustang II in 1983 and it was a heap back then.

    Like 2
  9. JoeNYWF64

    Door vinyl seems quite durable, seeing how the rest of the interior is “cooked”.
    Besides the windshield & back window moldings, Ford even painted(now peeling) over the chrome tailite moldings. Dumb.
    There is no coil – look where the coil wire goes – sure won’t start that way. lol
    Is that Ford electronic distrib with stock external factory coil as good/powerful as a GM HEI one?

    Like 1
  10. Matthew Hafer

    Well, I love those little cars! Yes, yes I said it. I LOVE those little cars! Lol
    I had a 78 cobra back in the day, I must admit that the engine had been spruced up a little(a ton) and it hauled ass. They were light cars and even with the puke engines that were in them they still were fun to drive. I bought another one in the 90s that hadn’t faired so well but still was fun to drive.
    I dont get the loathing that mustang guys have for these cars. I’m 63 and I liked them then and like them now.

    Like 9
  11. Claudio

    I never liked the mustang 2 ´s cause of the lack of performance and cheap pinto build but they have grown on me and the king cobras have all the add ons to make them a tad better
    For the lack of performance issue , i think its time to get over it , an engine transplant in the old cars is easir than replacing an alternator in most new vehicules ! Doubling the output of these boat anchors is easy and nowadays triple is achiveable without spending too much

    Like 5
  12. MikeB

    Just the stupid name rip off makes me shudder. To even mention the word “Cobra” around this joke of a car is terrible. I suppose to young people coming of age during this period these types of cars were special but to those of us who were car nuts in the 60’s they were laughable.

    Like 3
    • JoeNYWF64

      Not to mention “King” & having 13″ wheels & tires yet.
      & to think
      had the same name!
      I would think a 302 with the holley 4 barrel from ’85 would be an ez effective swap in this “King”, tho will the rear end & trans hold up?

      Like 2
      • MikeB

        Yes- I can only imagine what would happen to the differential if you tried to put a decent engine in this thing. Come to think of it I doubt the trans.would last long either. I wish I hadn’t read today’s Barn Finds, because now the image of that abomination is stuck in my mind.

        Like 2
      • Ralph Boone

        I installed 411 pozie, 289 sm chamber hds. crane hdy cam and 650 double pumper . on my 78 Cobra .

        Like 1
  13. Chuck

    I was easily influenced back then, esp after the big engine mustangs, to not like them. Till I drove a white cobra with blue stripes. The rest were still pintos

    Like 1
  14. Matthew Hafer

    Well Mike, you shouldn’t like ANY car from the seventies through the eighties and halfway through the 90s with thinking like that. I grew up in the era of the 60s cars as a good used car and CHEEP when I came up. Had ALOT of them and really most are not alot better than that little mustang with a few add-ons. Most were HUGE boats and it made no difference untill you had ordered one with an engine that most didn’t get at the time BUT opinions abound and yours is as good as mine. Love the little COBRAS. LOL

    Like 3
    • MikeB

      Well Mathew, I did have a 75 Trans Am that was a pretty decent car but not really very quick, then I had an 87 Buick Regal Turbo that was big and very fast. The 73 SD 455 T/A was a great car as I recall. A very few others were decent in that era. All of the cars I have noted were far and away superior to this so called King Cobra in every way.

      Like 1
      • Matthew Hafer

        Well let’s see, a 73 455 pre fog and a turbo’d car ten years later. I believe you just proved my point. Thanks
        They were cool little cars that got sucked up into the seventies no power era. With a decent set of heads a cam and a set of headers and 4 barrel that little crap car could stomp your 455 car at the time and have less than $500 in parts at the time on it. Not saying they were the BEST cars at all, just saying there is now a following on these cars that is about the last 10 becoming much stronger because the guys that liked them are speaking up now that would NEVER have spoke up before due to the older mustang guys hating them.
        I and ALOT of guys that love the old machs (owned them) and fastback mustangs loved these cars too. They were fun to drive, held the road decently, you could get 50s and 60 series 13 inch at the time which helped and with the weight of the car with the stock 302 4 speed was a blast to drive. Just sayin.

        Like 4
      • karl

        Regal turbo…big ?

        Like 1
  15. Matthew Hafer

    scuze me, read wrong. 75 455. Boat anchor. Lol

    Like 1
  16. MikeB

    I assume you are aware that the 73 455 SD TransAm would do 13.5 sec, 103 mph quarters with stock tires and a full tank. Not going to happen in even a modified Version of this Cobra. Besides we’re not talking about modified cars here are we? You can make anything fast if you modify it enough.

    Like 1
    • Matthew Hafer

      And a 71 machine mid to high 13s a 2021 mustang depending on motor in the 11s. Its all relative isnt it..
      My point is,, they were fun little cars, NOTHING ran good in the mid to late seventies but they were lighter than most and felt great with a 4 speed behind them.
      I dont get the disdain people have for them, which by the way is now changing and they are becoming collector cars.
      I like them.

      Like 1
  17. t-bone BOB

    Jun 20, 2021
    Winning bid:
    US $9,291.00
    [ 28 bids ]

    Item location:
    Walnut Cove, North Carolina

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