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1978 Ford Mustang Is a Proper Muscle Car, Packs 400-HP Surprise Under the Hood

Developed right after the 1973 oil crisis put an end to the golden era of the muscle car, the Ford Mustang II was a far cry from its predecessor. Slow, underpowered, and originally sold without a V8, the Mustang II is arguably the most hated version of the iconic pony car.
1978 Ford Mustang II 20 photos
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While it wasn't all that bad for the era, the second-gen compact is still viewed as a rebadged Pinto and a disgrace to the Mustang lineage. Despite all the hate, the 1970s pony enjoys somewhat of a cult following nowadays. And while some owners settle for the stock V8, which developed no more than 139 horsepower in range-topping trim, other enthusiasts take the aftermarket route to add more oomph.

This 1978 Mustang II is the perfect example of how you can turn an underpowered second-gen pony into a proper muscle car. It started life a regular, final-model-year 'Stang, but it was refinished in pearl white, a color Ford wasn't offering back in the day. It also received gold "Cobra II" decals and center stripes for a really unique look.

The go-fast package also includes front and rear spoilers, body-colored bumpers, and a raised cowl hood, add-ons that make it look like a slightly beefed-up King Cobra model.

The interior has been revamped too with white vinyl seat upholstery with tan cloth inserts, custom door panels, and, probably the coolest feature here, aluminum trim for the instrument cluster and passenger-side dash. The stock steering wheel has been ditched for a sportier-looking Grant GT unit.

Fortunately, this Mustang II isn't just an all show and no go build. The bulged hood hides 5.8-liter. Ford Racing V8 engine that has nothing in common with the 4.9-liter mill that Ford offered in the second-gen pony. Modified with a .030" overbore, Keith Black Hyperlight customs, Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads, a four-barrel carburetor, and a high-performance camshaft, this bespoke V8 packs 400 horsepower.

That's a massive upgrade over the 1978 King Cobra, rated at a measly 139 horsepower, and more than any first-generation Mustang, including the 375-horsepower Boss 429. It's also only slightly less powerful than the modern, sixth-generation Mustang GT. Not bad for a "rebadged Pinto," huh?

Completed some years ago, this Mustang II is looking for a new home via Bring a Trailer. It comes with original papers and documentation from its repaint and upgrade process. Aside from a missing trim piece around the T-top panels, a crack in the glass, and a few scratches, it's in solid condition.

It hasn't attracted any bids as of this writing, but the auction will be up for seven more days. Could it end up being one of those rare bargains?

While it's difficult to evaluate such a car, it's definitely one of the coolest Mustang II build I've seen in a very long time. It packs a few modern features that don't ruin its vintage vibe and the beefed-up V8 gives it the oomph it deserves. It's proof that the Mustang II is a solid platform for serious upgrades and that not all second-gen ponies need to spend their lives as lemons.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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