Sub-20,000 Miles: 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra

This 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra is likely one of the nicest ones left in existence, with a mere 17,121 miles on the clock. Likely a car socked away as part of an attempt to cash in on the Shelby Cobra craze that preceeded it, these cars never appreciated to the same level of its forbears. That said, when equipped like this one is with the 302 V8 and a manual transmission, they can still be fun drivers that make the right noises. Find it here on eBay with two bids to over $13K and four days left in the auction. 

The Cobra package in the Mustang II years was largely a dress-up kit, with unique wheels, spoilers, and stickers. The result was a Mustang that at least looked the part of a muscle car, even if its performance was a far cry from the Shelby years. That said, the Cobra package did help Ford move more Mustang IIs than in years prior, and the new-for-1978 King Cobra was the grandaddy of them all, with a 4-speed manual and 5.0L V8 combo standard equipment. The seller notes the paint as original with some “bumps and bruises.”

The rest of the car featured a few additional stickers and strategic placement of the words “Cobra” and “5.0” in places where it helped drivers feel like they were piloting a true muscle car. This example stands out, slightly, for not having a T-Top roof, an option many owners chose over the years. The more rigid structure likely provides some handling benefit or at least the sense of greater composure. Inside, this low-mileage example presents as new with nearly perfect seats and carpeting.

The King Cobra’s 5.0L didn’t have impressive amounts of horsepower, but it was a bit of a torque beast. The seller is short on the details about the Mustang’s mechanical health but one would assume with such low mileage and a reliable powerplant that there are no major issues. A “cooling and braking system overhaul” is noted, so perhaps there’s some work already done here that the next owner won’t have to deal with. With such low mileage and less than 5,000 made, what sort of number do you think this King Cobra will pull?

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Nice writeup, Jeff!

    Wow. 302, manual, no T-tops, not black — i.e. my ideal King Cobra!

    Yes, I said those words. I’d ***LOVE*** this car.

    Wish I were in the market, and all I can say is you haters go look at other posts. Leave us Mustang II lovers alone. :-)

    Like 2
    • Troy s

      Okay, okay, but I gotta say this. Loose all the stickers, give it a decent set of rims and tires….wider perhaps, built up 302 at least, beefier rear end with some good gearing, Tremec 5 speed, healthy sounding pipes and ya know what? This would actually make for a pretty decent machine.
      Come on, man…I’m trying here, really trying, to erase my own hate for the Mustang II. Haha!✌

      Like 1
      • JW

        @Troy, I hear ya as I tried telling the wife that when she brought hers home that we should do exactly as you stated but she’s a purist and refused. But every time it rained or snowed she would take my 78 F-150 4×4 and leave me the Cobra. With the rack and pinion steering I had a ball doing donuts in the parking lot at work.

  2. Uncleape

    did Farrah Fawcett drive one of these in charlies angels?

  3. Max

    I have All original 73 Mustang Hardtop coupe with 302 auto has 8,600 original miles I did Not buy it for drag racing or speeding For nostalgia & Originality I must admit had No interest whatsoever in this for sure lighter and Faster 78 king cobra thanks but No thanks!!

  4. Vegas Vic

    SHE screams seventies fun, nifty wheels, what a different beast to tool around in in the summers! sure she is slow, but you could remedy that! ME like, ME like

  5. BarnfindyCollins

    Farrah needs to come back and drive me crazy not a Mustang II. What a sweetheart , may she rest in peace. Seeing this here reminds me that someone has a white/ blue one of these sitting in a garage at an abandoned house for years in Columbia, SC. It still has Ford dealer plates on it.

    Like 1
    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      If the abandoned one happens to still be parked there, we would love to see photos of it!

      Like 1
  6. jdjonesdr

    Never say never. Who knows what these will be worth in 15-20 more years?

    • Bill C

      They are actually on the rise, but the biding is already past the Hagerty valuation for a number 2 condition. If it were #1 Concours it would be worth around $20k. It is amazing how all the smog control stuff back then would cripple a 302 to only 139 HP.

      Like 1
      • Troy s

        All that smog stuff crippled every engine back then from all makes, plus, some engines were just harder to make comply with stiff regulations. Different times.

        Like 1
      • M Williams

        I think they retarded the cam too, a little wrenching to regain some lost
        HP.

  7. 68custom

    nicest one I have ever seen, 4 speed and no t-tops make it that much better. slap a rearend in there that will handle some power and bolt some fun stuff on that 302 and have some fun! was the 4speed a real toploader that could handle power or something else?

    Like 1
    • dgrass

      I agree with you 100%. Put some grunt into that 302 and then have some fun. Perfect as is, but more power is never a bad thing in my book.

      Like 1
    • Patrick S newport pagnell Staff

      Tranny is a model RAD (Borg Warner SR4).

  8. 8banger dave Member

    Yes, Farah (RIP) (I had THAT poster of her in the 70s) indeed, or maybe Sabrina if she was sober enough…anyway, a Charlie’s Angelmobile for sure!

    Like 1
  9. JW

    I thought they only came in Black with Gold graphics but the wife who is a Pony Girl said she has seen red and blue ones but never one in this color. Her 78 Cobra with the 302 was no dog but not a tire shredder, with that rack & pinion steering it was the best cornering car I had ever driven at the time.

    • Ponyman1

      Any color that was in the 78 color charts.

      Like 1
  10. CanuckCarGuy

    Beautiful car, I love the body and trim colours! I could spend 1/2 my day waxing this one, and the other 1/2 admiring my work.

  11. Gunner

    This is unquestionably the finest Mustang II King Cobra I have ever seen. Period. And you can bet that the color is very uncommon as well.

    Like 1
  12. Superdessucke

    This probably should have been called the “Queen Cobra,” given they were very popular among women buyers when they were new. At least the graphics are a lot more tasteful than the hideous Cobra II of the same year.

  13. Jim

    Not a big fan of Mustang II’s but they do handle pretty well. Cobra have the worst hood scoop application ever on a mustang. At least Farah’s is facing the right way and sports the American international racing colors.

  14. Rube Goldberg Member

    For so many years, these were considered the “forgotten Mustang”. Very few were kept in this condition, even though they sold a bunch. In the late ’70’s, these were the hottest sticks you could get. This one is beautiful.

  15. OIL SLICK

    She sure is a beauty ain’t she

  16. Joe

    This is the only Mustang II I like…

  17. Tort Member

    I agree with Joe, the one he pictured is only Mustang II I like but with all the positive comments it shows why all cars don’t look alike. I was told back when the V8’s were introduced you had to lift the engine out a ways to change certain sparkplugs. Not sure about that but remember that was what I told.

    • JimmyDee

      I had a 78 2+2 with the 5.0L V-8; I only had to remove the battery to change the back right spark plugs. It might have been the Chevy Monza you had to raise the engine.

  18. DRV

    You have to leave it as original and ugly as you can. That’s what makes it great. If I had any extra lunch money I would buy this in a flash. It’s an excellent example and maybe the best one ever!

    Like 1
  19. Andy

    Drive it to the crusher and leave it there. The world would be a better place with one less Mustang II in it.

    • Ponyman1

      How many have you owned? Thought so.

      • Andy

        Zero, I’m proud to say.

      • Ponyman1

        Andy. Then why reply to something that you obviously know nothing about? Now everyone knows it.

        Like 3
  20. phil

    anyone notice the rear bumper has bumper guards and the frount has no bumper guards?? frt end collission repair and replaced with a std bumper and clip??

    • Ponyman1

      Bumper protection group was an option. The rear guards are not 78 they are ,74/77. Bumper has been replaced obviously. I would question the mileage. Car has been restored or partially restored. The rear quarters flares are held on with external fasteners and look awful. This is a factory color but thin in the option list.

  21. phil

    looked at the build sheet from dealership no optional bumper guards someone replaced the rear bumper assembly for a reason ??

  22. phil

    good catch on the rear spats screws holding on to the body.the factory had alum broad head rivets at the wheel inner lip arch and a couple at the lower underside of the rocker panel a piece of double stick auto body take was used behind the lip to hold the spat flush to the outside quarter panel.

    • Ponyman1

      I have 3 kings total two of them have 3/8 self tappers and the other king has rivets holding them on. In 78 the bumpers went to a thinner glued on strip so the guards fit closer to the bumper.

  23. Geo164s

    As an old guy, I remember what Mustang enthusiasts of the day thought of the Mustang II… and it wasn’t nice. Anyhow, this car is a really fine example.

    Like 1
  24. Tyler

    I’ve always had a thing for these Cobra & King Cobra Mustangs. Not exactly my favorite color, but this looks like a really nice example.

    Too many of these have fallen into disrepair or been crushed, & not near as much aftermarket support available as there is for the 65-73 or Fox bodies. I predict the good examples are gonna rise significantly over the next few years as they become fewer & further between.

    Like 1
  25. Dale Rabe

    Well written article, Jeff. I would like to know the King Cobra Vin#. I have a registry and production numbers on Mustang IIs, King Cobra, Cobra IIs, Stallion, Rallye, Ghia, Mach1 and original #2 invoices. King Cobra, Stallion, Rallye, Limited are very rare production numbers. My is 1 of 6 made Silver/Red.

    mustang2invoice@gmail.com

    Like 1
  26. Rick A. Loera Member

    Mustang ll, Bordom 0.

    Like 1
  27. Herb

    Probably without the mustang 2 there would be no mustang.

    Like 1

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