The Mustang II: A sad time for a beloved brand
Bringing back a beloved nameplate for a reboot is one of the riskiest moves a car company can make. Just like with movies and music, more often than not, the remake is usually just cashing in on the success of the original without giving it any due respect.
In the '70s and '80s, many car companies got lazy about how much energy they really needed to put into rebooting a beloved nameplate. as fanbases finally started maturing around certain marques, automakers relied on brand recognition too heavily to sell a model. One nameplate that has perhaps suffered most from this sad habit of the auto industry is the beloved Mustang.
When Ford unveiled the Mustang II in 1974, it was initially advertised as the lightest, best-handling Mustang to ever roll off the line. Returning to the proportions of the classic 1964 original, the makers even fooled Car and Driver magazine into naming it the car of the year.
However, some journalists at the time saw that a return to smaller proportions wasn't necessarily the boon needed to bring the increasingly bloated pony car back to its glorious roots as a taut street machine. Road & Track noted that first year that several other cars on the market were not only faster, but better handlers than the Mustang II, including the much less popular Datsun Z and Gremlin.
The car was a relative sales success simply because it had more in common with a mainstream Ford Pinto than the racing legend it shared its name with. The most offensive thing about the Mustang II was the King Cobra variant that came about in 1978, which was no more than an appearance package that dragged the elegant looks associated with the Cobra badge through the mud. As far as performance, the pitiful 130 hp, 302-ci V8 underneath the hideously painted hood didn't even feature a four-barrel carburetor.
The Mustang II certainly wasn't the worst pony car Ford tried pushing on the public, but it was the first massive dip in quality that fans of the brand had to endure. What do you think was the worst Mustang ever made? Leave your comments below: