Grilles on all '75s wore large eggcrates, a change made partly to accommodate that year's revived 302 V-8 offering. This Ghia shows "opera" rear windows.

The 1975 Ford Mustang

Ford had ushered in a new era of Mustangs in 1974 with its smaller, more upscale Mustang II redesign.

Among changes in the second model year, the 1975 Ghia hardtop model added a flip-up glass "moonroof" option ($422) and a $151 Silver Luxury Group with cranberry-color crushed-velour upholstery, silver paint, matching half-vinyl top, and standup hood ornament. At the same time, Ghia rear-quarter glass was abbreviated into "opera" windows, a popular luxury-car styling fad of the day.

A fold-down rear seat was now standard for fastbacks, and cast-aluminum wheels and steel-belted radial tires were newly optional across the board. So was an "extended-range" (17-gallon) fuel tank ($18), a tacit admission that even these radically "downsized" Mustangs were rather thirsty. Mid-model year brought partial relief in a special "MPG" notchback and fastback with catalytic converter, which eliminated the need for some add-on emissions hardware and allowed engine retuning for better mileage and drivability. The MPG models then vanished, though not their "cat con."

But the big news for '75 was the return of V-8 power, answering customer pleas for more performance. Optional through '78, this was, of course, the familiar small-block 302-cubic-inch unit, initially tuned for 122 net horsepower, then 139.

Small front-fender emblems identified V-8-equipped cars like this Mach 1.

Unlike many second-year updates, this one was quite involved. As product development vice president Harold McDonald told historian Gary Witzenburg: "We had a very difficult time…because there hadn't been provision made for [a V-8]…The hood had to be much longer and a half-inch higher for clearance, we had to change the radiator support and move the radiator forward three inches, change things along the firewall, beef up [the frame] and mount the engine differently…but we didn't have to move the tread or change suspension mounting points."

However, springs, brakes and other components were beefed up to handle the heavier V-8, and all models regardless of engine wore larger grille eggcrates.

Mustang II Meets Monza

Others were bound to follow Ford's lead, and Mustang II got new competition for 1975 in Chevy's Monza 2+2, a sporty version of the bow-tie brand's subcompact Vega. Monza's optional 4.3-liter (262-cid) V-8 looked no match for Mustang's "5.0," and in straight-line acceleration it wasn't. Yet after a two-car shootout, Road & Track recommended the Chevy for its fresh, Ferrari-like styling and comfort, ride, handling, and fuel economy that were all judged superior to the Ford's.

Others were bound to follow Ford's lead, and Mustang II got new competition for 1975 in Chevy's Monza 2+2, a sporty version of the bow-tie brand's subcompact Vega. Monza's optional 4.3-liter (262-cid) V-8 looked no match for Mustang's "5.0," and in straight-line acceleration it wasn't. Yet after a two-car shootout, Road & Track recommended the Chevy for its fresh, Ferrari-like styling and comfort, ride, handling, and fuel economy that were all judged superior to the Ford's.

A year earlier, reporting on a four-speed Mach 1, R&T said "it would be unrealistic to expect Ford of Dearborn to produce a European-type sporty car. Instead they've come up with a distinctively American interpretation of a sporty compact…[T]he car's great weight and poor balance make some [functional] options virtually necessary…[But] if you're not bothered by such considerations, [Mustang II] is solid, well-built, quiet and plush -- and not at all unpleasant to drive…as long as you don't ask too much of it."

Road & Track said the 1975 Mustang was quiet and plush.

Though gas started flowing freely again in March 1974, a slow economic recovery depressed auto sales into model-year '75. Mustang II was not immune, volume dropping over 50 percent to 188,575. Yet even that was far more encouraging -- and profitable -- than the tepid pace of 1971-73.

Sales were buoyed in 1976, in part by the popular Cobra II. Find out what was included in this largely ornamental package on the next page.

  • 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.
  • For a full report on the 2007 Ford Mustang, check out Consumer Guide New Car Reviews.  Here you'll find road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for hundreds of cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.