Hooniverse Asks: Will the Mustang II Ever be a Classic?

Mustang II
Fifty one years ago this month, the Ford Motor Company introduced the Mustang and created a new genre of automobiles. That original pony car became an overnight success. Every year following Ford gave the ‘Stang a little more this and a little more that, until nearly a decade later it became bloated and hardly recognizable as related to that original lithe horse that everyone loved.
In its second generation the Mustang returned to its smaller origins, and added cool features like rack and pinion steering and an available hatchback body. Those however weren’t enough to keep the Mustang II from becoming the marque’s most vilified edition. Arriving just in time for both emissions and fuel economy requirements to castrate engine performance, the II also offered some of the most anemic engines ever to call a Mustang home.
Today, the early ‘Stangs are seeing values go through the roof. the ‘64.5-’66 cars especially are now deemed classics and can command amazing prices. The Mustang II however, still sits in the economic doldrums, even though on paper it’s a vastly better car than the version that immediately preceded it. Do you think that is going to be the case forever? Or, will the Mustang II’s day eventually come? Will it ever become a classic?
Image: TheCarConnection

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  1. Maymar Avatar

    There might be minor retro oddity appeal, but I’m not sure much Malaise Era stuff will ever amount to much. Also, the Fox Body Mustang (which is already on its way to classic-dom) is such a better car, it doesn’t pan out great for the Mustang II

  2. Kiefmo Avatar

    For me, it’s all about the looks.
    Any old domestic can be made to roast its meats with judicious application of the greatest amount of cubic inches that can be stuffed underhood. Who really cares what engine it came with from the factory unless you’re Pebble Beaching the thing?
    So, because it’s about the looks, and the Mustang II just cannot be made to look attractive in any form (honestly, the stablemate hatchback Pinto looks better to me), I’d much rather have its contemporary, the Maverick, whose lines and proportions work much better in my view.
    Look at these two, and tell me you prefer the Mustang II, and I’ll tell you about an exciting opportunity I have to buy beachfront property in Nebraska.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      There are a lot of ugly malaise era cars, but there are PLENTY that are distinctly more attractive and more desirable when compared to the Mustang II. I’d personally choose a Hornet hatchback over a Maverick.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar

        While I’m sure it improves the ride and makes for a more spacious back seat, the look of the Hornet is spoiled by the long wheelbase and short rear overhang.
        Anyway, I was just comparing Ford for Ford — if I’m picking malaise-era, the Mav might be in the top 5, but the F-bodies are at the top, followed by the Dodge Magnum/Mirada.

          1. Kiefmo Avatar

            I love that four-eyed geek, too!

          2. Tanshanomi Avatar

            Although the eyes on that particular one remind me of someone…can’t put my finger on exactly who…

        1. ptschett Avatar

          I’m partial to the mid-70’s Cutlass Supreme. My kindergarten teacher had one about like this.

  3. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar


  4. dukeisduke Avatar

    No, but there’s something nostalgic that draws me to them. I mean, Farrah Fawcett had one, so they can’t be all bad:
    And as for the styling, they could have turned out weirder:

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar
  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    Also, how can you tell a ’74 from the rest? The ‘grille in ’74 was recessed, but when they added the V-8 in ’75, they needed more room, so they pushed the grill forward.

    1. JayP Avatar

      Quality there.

  6. JayP Avatar

    Everyone who wants one, has one.
    Same with Smartcars and Vegas.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      No, they still offer the Vegas, and it sells pretty well.
      (Ducks and runs)

  7. FastPatrick Avatar

    Give it enough time and it’ll take its place as a sort of historical signifier and ironic classic, sort of like the Edsel or Nash Ambassador. It’s too distinctive and noteworthy to just fade into oblivion; actually, its very notoriety may ensure its eventual appreciation.

  8. Juliet C. Avatar
    Juliet C.

    Most people like to hate hate my 73 Sprint “not a real mustang.” A 10x better car and 50x better looking than the II. So i don’t see how the II is ever going to be classic https://tommyscarblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/1972-ford-mustang-sprint-200-limited-edition.jpg

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      I don’t hate any of them, really, but the Grande nose looks like it needs to be about a foot shorter to me.

    2. mad_science Avatar

      I’d rather have a Mustang II than a 71-73. Probably rather have one than most 69-71s, too.

    3. stigshift Avatar

      I thought Sprints were 1972 only?

      1. Juliet C. Avatar
        Juliet C.

        Good catch! I was wondering if anybody would realize that. I technically have a ’73 Sprint TRIBUTE car. My ’72 Sprint hardtop was hit hard from behind about 15 years ago. My husband bought a ’73 sports roof that got the ’72 front end and engine, and is painted to match the Sprint color scheme.

        1. stigshift Avatar

          Sounds quite nice!

    4. ptschett Avatar

      I like the ’71-’73’s, but I’m biased since my high-school car 20 years ago was a ’73 Cougar. I think it’s about time to revisit their “clydesdale” designation in consideration of the size and heft of the later S197 (which were great cars, I very nearly pulled the trigger on owning one, if not for the interior that made my old Mercury look spacious…)

  9. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    They already are. Have you seen the price for a well-kept Cobra II?

  10. Stephen Avatar

    As with all vehicles of this era, you can significantly improve the appeal by throwing absurd amounts of money into a resto-mod. A show room stock Mustang II with 1000 original miles on it wouldn’t interest me in the slightest. But if someone upgraded the mechanicals while keeping the visual aesthetic, I would suddenly be a fan.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      In stock form it’s as appealing as a fart in a spacesuit, but everything has potential. Compact RWD platforms that you cans stick an interesting engine in have more potential than most. http://image.popularhotrodding.com/f/9069148/0604phr_01_z+1976_ford_mustang_ii+.jpg

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        Dang, that’s kinda hot.

  11. 7FIAT's Later Avatar
    7FIAT’s Later

    I have always thought a Cobra II with a decent drivetrain would be a fun car and I recently told my wife since it does not ever look like I will get a Trans Am, then the next best thing would be to apply the sticker kit from a Cobra II onto our 2012 black Mustang and some gold BBS wheels.

  12. Citric Avatar

    Not Mustang enough for Mustang fans, not weird enough for weirdo fans (though the King Cobra version has potential for that), has kind of a toxic reputation and tends to be a parts mine for more interesting projects. I can’t see it expanding beyond the tiny following it already has.

  13. Drzhivago138 Avatar

    It is to me, and that’s all that matters. I’ll take that Ghia and shoehorn in a 300 Six, thank you very much.

  14. mdharrell Avatar

    I don’t see why not. The 1963 Mustang II was a well-received prototype in its day and served as the basis for much of the styling of the later series of production Mustangs. It survives as a significant museum piece and certainly has earned its place as a classic.

  15. mad_science Avatar

    Yes, but only the hatches with tons of malaise crap removed and a decent motor dropped in.
    I think it’s important to remember how many cars we now love (e.g. Falcons) were considered super lame over the last 50 years. The majority of any model are the lower-spec lousy ones, but as time wears on those get wrecked and scrapped while the Good Ones get preserved.

  16. Matt Carhart Avatar
    Matt Carhart

    My best friend (and next door neighbor growing up) had one in tan with contrasting dark brown landau top with the gutless 2.3L Carb’s Lima engine and a slushbox. He loved it for about a week before he absolutely hated it. Now that they are so old and one can stuff anything in the engine bay, the appeal may be there (for reference there is a guy that attends a local car show with a Maverick with a souped up 302 and 5 speed that I drool over. Although the Maverick always had nice body lines in coupe form). I do not think that they will ever be an appreciable classic, but rather a cheap platform to build on.

  17. Lokki Avatar

    I simply can’t be objective about the Mustang II. I was a car guy by the time they came out and just starting to be able to afford a “real” car…..and the future sure looked bleak. The Mustang II was an insult – sort of like asking Santa for a pony and getting one of those broomstick ponys – while everyone tried to tell you it really was a Mustang, er pony. Ain’t, Ain’t, Ain’t a Mustang. Ain’t collectable. Ain’t.

  18. salguod Avatar

    I love the Mustang II, but these are the cars of my youth. I get that there are better cars, but I just like these.
    Also, is the II really considered the second generation? I would have thought the overgrown predecessors would have been generation 2.

  19. dead_elvis Avatar

    They make a nice front axle/disc brake donor for a lot of cool restomod projects, don’t they? That might be their highest calling.

  20. Bren Avatar

    Like everything else, the Mustang II will have it’s day. Just like the Maverick in Brazil the price of Mustang II’s will rise and people will be saying “Look at the prices, I shoulda kept that piece of junk”