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Stock In Appearance Only: 1978 Mustang II Cobra

This 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra may appear fairly standard from the outside, and looking cosmetically tired. However, some real work has happened under the hood to give this 302-powered example some extra oomph where needed most. You might even call it a sleeper, as most folks would disregard a Mustang of this generation to be intimidating in name only. Find it here on eBay with a $4,500 Buy-It-Now.

This is a familiar site to me, as one of the junkyards I frequent has an old Cobra (engine gone – sorry) with its nose buried but the integrated spoiler still sitting proudly on the trunk. This particular Cobra shows a tired body but no major damage or rot; a repaint may be justified but certainly not required. The front of the car appears more orange in color than the rear, which is clearly red and faded. Wheels are different front to back, as well.

Here’s where it gets interesting: the seller notes the 302 has been mildly worked over. “302; bored 30 over; 10;1 compression; low to mid range cam; Edelbrock intake; Harley carburetor; Ford Performance valve covers; headers; MSD ignition system; Flowmaster mufflers.” Too bad it’s an automatic, but some owners would prefer the slushbox when paired to a torque-rich motor like the 302. The modifications mentioned here should wake the Mustang up nicely.

The T-Top roof shows no signs of damage and the red interior looks clean as well. The seller confirms the King Cobra does run and drive but will need final sorting before it’s a reliable runner. Those details aren’t disclosed, but with the work that’s already been done and the clean, dry condition underneath, there’s hope this Mustang isn’t hiding too many secrets. Extra points for the hood graphic remaining intact! Would you buy a Mustang King Cobra with these mods or hold out for a stock example?


  1. RoKo

    Hated by many as not being a ‘real’ Mustang, but these are good little cars in their own right. I’d be tempted to yank that engine/trans in favor of a modern 2.3 turbo and 5 speed.

    Like 5
  2. YankeeTR5

    Why do that replacement with 2.3? With the current configuration the motor has to be pushing over 250hp, if not more. The 302 is way more improveable. I’ve wondered how well these cars would respond to a lot more horsepower…which is available from this block. I know the front ends are used in lots of hot rod builds, but hows the rear end? Given the price on these (cheap in the world of muscle cars) I’ve always wondered about what’s possible…..

    Like 6
    • Joe Backer

      Stock rear end is just that. Stock. Can’t go crazy on what was once putting out 140hp. Need to beef up the rear or things start to break from a hopped up motor.

      Like 2
      • Tom

        Stock rear is an 8” removable carrier 3.73 limited slip. It’s more than beefy enough to hold that minimal power.

        Like 4
  3. Mike R in De

    Just about anything you can do to a Fox body 5.0 engine/ trans package & rear end can be done to this car. Put in a cut down Ford 9″ & 4 link rear to hold up to a built 5.0+ and have fun!! “T” top body might not like the extra HP. Would make for a heckuva sleeper!! Good luck to the new owner and seller!

    Like 5
    • Blyndgesser

      You can, Mike R, but you won’t get quite the same results. The Fox body, while still crude by today’s standards, is a much better handling vehicle. An overpowered Mustang II is still a lot of fun between corners, if not actually fun IN coeners.

      Like 2
      • Michael Rogers Member

        Pretty well ANYTHING can be made to handle; Bigger ARB’s, shocks camber and caster. I recall a mustang with a 427 trophying at Sebring or LeMans and the same in the Big Cobras which supports hanging a big lump in front isn’t a death omen!

        Like 1
  4. Mvickery

    The biggest problem with these cars is the weak brakes in my experience. They all came with 13″ wheels, and had correspondingly sized brakes. The one I had had barely adequate brakes for the four cylinder. I’d guess there are upgraded brakes for hot rods, but I’m sure you’d have to put bigger wheels on it.

    Like 1
  5. Wade anders O

    I cut while working on m 390Gallixie one time and got Ford blue into my blood what’s with the red engine I know Ford had red at one time but not on this year the were usually black

    Like 1
  6. Classic Steel

    I like this over the foxbody but hey I appreciate all mustangs as it keep them alive during the lean years to claw back to good status as now. Camaro folded but came back later but the stang survived all years 👍

    I would leave the 302 and work on front end with sway bars and other items to tighten up performance.

    Then look to see if connectors or other bracing could be applied🤠. Keep it low to ground and run the ponies all out driving like u stole it😎

    Maybe get a liscence plate stating “C Angel 1” 👀😆

    Like 6
    • Classic Steel

      One lil notice or comment…

      I was considering the car till I noticed last picture..,
      WHY Did you take the vin plate off… shown on EBay…..
      This is crazy as in devaluation of the car? Do the other numbers match? Are we hiding
      something? The body looks okay and no need …

      A big pet peeve of mine ….
      Unless a 18 wheeler rolled over the car then remove the vin with the factory rivets .. 😳😫
      Now the rest of cars history is why did it come off?

      Like 2
      • Miguel

        Classic, you mean the picture of the trim plate? That is not the VIN tag, which would be on the dash.

        That has happened before, but not sure why. maybe that area was rusted through.

        Like 0
  7. Boatman Member

    “Harley” carburetor? Really Jeff?

    Like 2
  8. hatofpork

    Any King Corba (sic) with a Harley carburetor should at least have the optional Davidson rear end!

    Like 8
  9. Joe Backer

    He’s just a boy. Now give him a “holy” carb to make things right, ok?

    Like 3
  10. Miguel

    I see this was an A/C car, but no evidence of that under the hood at all.

    Like 0
  11. Ken

    The rear axle in these were the old 8” that was in thousands of smaller FOMOCO cars with SBF engines, and these were 3:1 axle ratio, so except for changing the gears for something stiffer, I don’t see a problem

    Like 3
  12. Curt k.

    The tag is a buck tag and its held on with screws on the core support.it decodes what came with the car.you can decode it at mustang ii.net…it will tell you if it a real king cobra or not but i do see its stamped KC….i would love this hell i love the mustang ii…

    Like 2
  13. Dom Colucci

    My son had one of these pushing 405 hp an automatic with a shift kit detroit locker rear. That little car flew!!!

    Like 3
  14. Ken

    “Too bad it’s an automatic”

    Not everyone wants an automatic transmission. I used to rebuild “slushboxes” for a living, and I’d take an automatic with a shift kit over a standard transmission any day of the week.

    Like 3
    • Ken

      Meant to say, “Not everyone wants a standard transmission.”

      Like 0
  15. chad

    when these came out the 302 was a popular swap. later the 5 oh, now? a coyote?
    the 8 inch can go 300/350HP easy…it’s not the horses but how used: dirt?, slicks?, 1/4 mi? (ie all dumped in @ once)?, 31 spline or 28’s another consideration…

    Like 0
  16. Wrong way

    It’s okay, but not a looker like before and after Stangs are! Price is fair, for what you are getting! Doesn’t excite me in the least! Sorry :-)

    Like 0
  17. Miguel

    What do you think, guys? Is this car worth $2000.00?

    Like 1
  18. Miguel


    Like 1
  19. Miguel

    Inside. It is a factory V8 car.

    Like 1

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