Snake Charmer: 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra



For several years during the 1970’s, the Ford Mustang deviated from its aggressive image backed by powerful performance. Here is an example of the pinnacle of that movement. It is a 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra. This car is located in Middlebury, Connecticut and is listed for sale here on eBay. There are a little over 2 days remaining in the auction and the Mustang has been bid to $15,500 after 34 bids. This was the last year of the Mustang II and only 4,971 King Cobra’s were produced.

The engine compartment is clean and the heads have been topped off with aftermarket chrome valve covers. The car is said to run and drive well and start up immediately. The 302 cubic inch V8 engine was factory rated at 139 horsepower. The engine is backed by a 3 speed automatic transmission. The performance of this car pales in comparison to the Camaro Z28 of the same year that had 175 horsepower and the Pontiac Trans Am that produced 220 horsepower. But for some, it is not all about the power and handling. The Mustang II was one of the best selling Mustangs ever built.

The odometer reading on the car shows 96,900 miles. The seller has replaced the carpet on the interior but the rest of the interior looks original. There appears to be one seam in the driver’s seat that is separated. The seller states that he is selling this nice example of a Mustang II King Cobra to thin out his collection of cars. My brother bought a new 1979 Mustang which was the first generation of the Fox Body that had a 302 cubic inch V8 and 4 speed manual transmission. I believe it was a little faster than the Mustang II with the same engine. They were both 2 barrel carbureted engines.

You don’t usually see this color on Mustang II King Cobras. They are more commonly seen in white, black and red. This car is also equipped with T-Tops. The seller states than about 1,200 King Cobras were produced with this option. The car is said to be rust free and had a recent repaint and new graphics applied that were sourced from Phoenix Graphics. You might need this car to complete your Mustang collection or to be the only one at a car show with a yellow Mustang II King Cobra.


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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Another very nice King Cobra. I’m with Bruce, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a yellow one. But with the fresh paint it comes across as very eye-catching; nothing subtle here. The opposite of the blue one recently featured, this example is well-equipped. It looks to have had good care.

    I’m not quite as impressed with the underhood presentation. Much of it looks to have been subjected to the “paint everything semi-flat black” treatment; originally, underhood components were an array of different materials, colors, and finishes.

    The Mustang II fans (me included) will like this one. I’m not surprised at the solid bidding.

    Like 10
  2. Steve Weiman

    Am I the only one who absolutely can’t understand why there is even one person anywhere that has an interest in this car? Let alone spend money and purchase it? Maybe there is something good that I don’t understand about 70s awful, and I was there(!)

    Like 17
    • Kevin Ryan

      It’s a lot of motor for basically the pinto platform. Cool looking body lines and graphics. I don’t know I think they’re kinda cool for what they are. I think the pricing is a little high but what isn’t nowadays? Work over the motor and you got neat little race car. Don’t forget the side pipes.

      Like 3
    • Jim

      It’s fine that you can’t understand. Not everyone is meant to understand.
      What some don’t realize is that we actually have DIFFERENT tastes and opinions. And just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean that many others wouldn’t like it.
      For many, a car like this would be nostalgia. They perhaps had one, or a similar one (I had a ’77 Mustang II with the 302/AT) in my high school days). Or have memories of riding in one, or even just seeing them on the streets.
      Thankfully, there are people with wide ranges of interests, in not only cars, but in all aspects of life.

      Like 36
      • Steve Weiman

        Jim, I agree with you completely, it’s the variety of vehicles and people in our hobby that I enjoy. I don’t need to see the sea i’ve seen us that I like in my head all the time. And if I’m being completely honest when I drove the pinto platform Fords for the first time in the 70s I was genuinely impressed by the handling and braking which was miles ahead of the original falcon platform of 60s mustangs. With EPA and crash regs I think Ford just did the best they could with all that was on the plate. The original base mustang II he isn’t too bad in the looks department all things considered. But boy, once you sticker and plastic up that design, yikes….. :)

        Like 5
  3. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking car. Given its trim level, the “King Cobra”, I would’ve given the car a modified V6 engine, or possibly a small V8 engine, preferably smaller than a 302 V8 engine.

    Like 3
    • wayne wright

      Good thinking on your part. I started selling FORDS in 61 thru 91 and was fortunate to have an understanding dealer who let me do all the ordering. So sometimes I went overboard on performance models such as 69 Torino Cobras and Mustang Shelbys. Favorite Mustang series was 71 thru 73. Great drivers. I am surprised no one has brought up the ESP coupes. I liked the looks, wished it had some speed equipment availabe.

      Like 1
  4. Jonny

    I worked for Ford in numerous marketing management positions during the era of this car. Universally known as an embarrassment to the Mustang name. If I had my way, all of these IIs would meet the crusher, and forever be gone, so as to never tarnish the legendary Mustang name again with their presence. Wimpy performance and ugly styling, all on top of a Pinto platform. It can’t get any worse than that.

    Like 7
    • MrBZ

      Regardless of the power it puts out, I personally feel making a 4 door mommy-wagon and trashing both the Mustang and Mach-1 names at the same time is much worse.

      Like 10
    • MikeB

      Jonny you are absolutely correct.

      Like 1
    • piston poney

      ok for 1 they were one of the best selling mustangs of all time, 2 they arnt that bad looking in the right color, 3 they are super light and while they may be low on power they will beat most other muscle car from there time, my dad had a 78 king cobra still does, back when he street raced there wasn’t a car in town that could beat it, its a 302, 4 speed t-top car, blue with the interior, and for the 10000000 time the mustang 2 was not based on the PINTO

      Like 9
  5. Arby

    They had to come up with something to counter the screaming chicken.

    Like 8
  6. Howie Mueler

    Very clean on the outside for 96k miles, just fair on the interior.

    Like 1
  7. Sam Shive

    I’ve seen many of MUSTANG II’s With 302’s that have been rebuild. Once you get about 300 or more PONIES In/Out of one of these little Ponies you got a pretty good ride. For those of you who say this isn’t a Mustang. It’s looks more like the original to me than any Foxbody. Like I was always told ” If we were all the same what a boring world it would be” I Like It.

    Like 11
  8. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    I must be the oddball here. I never really liked the Mustang II platform back in the day, and I really don’t care for most of them now, but I do like this car, and I would drive it. I don’t know… it may be the color matching wheels or maybe it is the snake on the hood?

    Like 4
  9. Roger Winstorff

    Back in the early 80 a friend of me drove one of these. The 302 was tuned with headers, a 4 barrel holley, ported and polished heads and hipo ignition. The suspension had Koni shoks and bigger tires gave it a mean look. He was a good driver, even Porsches disapeared in the mirror while he was rowing thru the 4 Speed box. If setup right these tiny boxes had lots of potential.

    Like 5
    • Kirk

      Are you the porsche knew he was racing.. lol every mustang 2 I’ve seen looks like the tires are tiny and tucked too far under . Doesn’t look like a car that would handle the turns very well ..
      I could be wrong, I was in a pinto one night with a talented driver on narrow windey up and down road that completly changed my opinion about pintos not to mention leaving my fingers permanently imprinted into the dashboard as fun as it were.. a 4cyl 4 speed at that and no big tires either

      Like 1
  10. MoragaPulsar

    Humm – you may want to check your enthusiasm just a bit. Or at least defend why your insight is 1 against 10000000.

    Wiki states –

    ” the second generation was derived from the subcompact Pinto platform using a unique unibody with an isolated front suspension and engine mount subframe while sharing a limited number of chassis and driveline components”

    • KarlS

      I was a Ford tech between 1973 and 1978 when these cars were in their prime. The wiki that you linked to probably wasn’t written by anybody that ever worked for Ford. The Mustang II has a 2 inch longer wheelbase than the Pinto and even though both cars are unibody, because they might actually share both front and rear subframes, that doesn’t mean that one was based on the other. And by the way that same link states that the Mustang II was car of the year in 1974.

      Like 1
  11. Brad460 Member

    I really like this car. Love the king cobra in yellow and honestly dont think I’ve ever seen another one.

    I also like the wild graphics patterns and wish something like that would come back to spice up all of today’s extremely boring cars.

    Yes its performance was lacking but what wasnt in the late 70s. At least it has some attitude and bravado. My brother had a regular cobra II and even with a mildly modified 302 it was a pretty decent performer. If your goal is true high performance buy something new made now like the gt350 etc.

    I’d drive this car just because of how cool, unique and different it is. You just dont see yellow king cobras every day.

    Like 1
  12. Jay E. Member

    This car lost all of its “Muscle Car” cred when we went to fit it with 5 spoke Cragars. WTF, 4 lug axles. Pretty much summed up the car as a whole.

    Like 2
  13. jwaltb

    139 HP? This thing would be about as fast as a garbage truck.

    Like 3

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