Ford President Lee Iacocca masterminded the Mustang II, creating a smaller, more fuel-efficient car to compete with sporty imports. Iacocca had eliminated the straight-line six-cylinder engine in favor of a more compact V-6, and per his edict, engineers gave no thought to providing a V-8 engine, a break with Mustang tradition -- and something Ford would soon regret.
Initial engine choices comprised a new 2.3-liter (140-cubic-inch) single-overhead-cam inline four-cylinder and a 2.8-liter enlargement of the Capri's overhead-valve V-6. The four, sometimes called the "Lima" engine after the Lima, Ohio, plant that supplied it, was the first American-built engine designed to metric dimensions. That wasn't surprising. Originally slated for some of Ford's larger European cars, it was actually a bored-and-stroked version of the Pinto 2.0-liter.
A novel feature was "monolithic engine timing." After each engine was assembled, an electronic device hooked to a computer was connected to two engine sensors, an indicator point at the rear of the crankshaft and an electrical terminal between the distributor and coil. The computer compared readings from each sensor, then set timing automatically by means of a distributor adjustment. The computer's high degree of precision made this technique very useful for meeting increasingly tough emission standards.
The V-6 was basically the same engine offered in U.S.-market Capris from 1972. It used the same camshaft, valvetrain, pushrods, and distributor as its European parent but was bored and stroked for American service, capacity increasing from 2.6 liters (155 cid) to 2.8 (171 cid). At the same time, Ford switched from siamesed to separate exhaust ports for improved performance and thermal efficiency.
Supplied only with dual exhausts, the V-6 was optional for any Mustang II save the Mach 1 hatchback, where it was standard. Like early 2.0-liter Pinto fours, it was imported from Ford's West German subsidiary in Cologne.
The Mustang II's standard four-speed gearbox was basically the four-speed unit from the British Ford Cortina as used in the Pinto but strengthened to handle the Mustang's more powerful engines. Of course, SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic was available (at $212). Brakes were usefully upgraded to standard 9.3-inch front discs and 9 x 1.75-inch rear drums.
Predictably, most Mustang IIs exhibited "American" ride and handling characteristics. The Mach 1 was both more capable and entertaining with its standard V-6 ($299 extra on other models), but no '74 Mustang II was Sixties speedy. The car was heavy for its size (curb weight was a porky 2650-2900 pounds), so a V-6 with four-speed would do 0-60 mph in a lackluster 13-14 seconds and reach only about 100 mph, a far cry from the Boss and big-block days.
As if to signal the reduced performance, the trademark running-horse emblem became a less muscular steed that seemed to be cantering. It was created by interior designer Charles Keresztes, inspired by the work of noted Western artist Frederic Remington.
Less for More?
Despite its terrific first-year sales (and winning Motor Trend's 1974 "Car of the Year" award), the Mustang II wasn't an instant hit. With the economy still beset by "stagflation," early buyers favored low-priced models with few frills, whereas Ford production planning had assumed just the opposite.
Demand picked up pace once the oil embargo hit and long lines formed at gas pumps. Ford fast adjusted the model mix, but some sales were probably lost anyway because Mustang II looked to some people like less car for more money.
The price escalation was certainly dramatic, even allowing for the "little jewel's" extra standard equipment. The base coupe started the year at $3081, up $321 from its '73 counterpart -- which came with a six-cylinder engine, not a four. The fastback was up $455 to $3275, the $3427 Ghia was $481 costlier than the last Grande, and the V-6 Mach 1, at $3621, was up $533 from its V-8 predecessor. Though prices would go even higher, sales held up quite well through end-of-the-line '78.
Options were fewer than in recent years, but more than sufficient. Besides air conditioning ($383) and various radios and tape players, the '74 list showed power steering ($106), power brakes ($45), tilt/takeout sunroof ($149), antitheft alarm ($75), console ($43), electric rear-window defroster ($59), rocker-panel trim, protective bodyside moldings, fold-down rear seat ($61), and "Glamour Paint."
A $100 Luxury Interior Group for base cars and Mach 1 delivered most of the Ghia's upscale appointments; its extra noise insulation was available for other models in a "Super Sound" package ($22). All models offered a Convenience Group (dual door mirrors and such), a Light Group (courtesy lamps and extra warning lights), and a new Maintenance Group ($44) with a shop manual, basic tools, fire extinguisher, and other items for roadside emergencies.
Tempting enthusiasts were Traction-Lok differential ($45) and the comp suspension (only $37) with adjustable shock absorbers, wider tires, and rear antiroll bar. These items were also part of a V-6 Rallye Package along with heavy-duty cooling, chrome exhaust tips, raised-white-letter tires on styled-steel wheels, twin remote-adjustable door mirrors, leather-rim steering wheel, and quartz digital clock.
The biggest option for 1975 was the return of the V-8 engine. The next page tells all about it, along with other 1975 options.
For even more on the Ford Mustang, check out the following links.
- Saddle up for the complete story of America's best-loved sporty car. How the Ford Mustang Works chronicles the legend from its inception in the early 1960s to today's all-new Mustang.
- A bigger, brawnier Mustang galloped in for 1971, just as buyers were moving away from the pony car market. In 1971-1972-1973 Ford Mustang, learn how the car still offered high style.
- Mustang began a second revolution with the handsome, sophisticated "New Breed". 1979-1980-1981 Ford Mustang tells how hit scored big in the showroom, and in fans' hearts.
- Ford muscle cars were among the top performers of the muscle car era. Check out profiles, photos, and specifications of some tough Ford muscle cars.