Is This the Coolest Mustang II Ever Built?


The Ford Mustang II doesn’t get a lot of respect. They were born during an oil crisis and when they debuted as 1974 models, they did so without a V-8 engine option. Still, their styling, size, and fuel economy made them a sales success. While their ‘70s engines and suspensions don’t do them any favors when compared to more modern Mustangs, the underlying design is worth celebrating.

Brett Behrens used a fastback from the final year of Mustang II production, 1978, to show what could be done with a lot of vision and even more talented fabrication. Now in its second iteration, this custom street machine is up for sale at Mecum’s Tulsa Auction set for June 8.

The custom build, handled by A-Team Racing in Bend, Oregon, used a C6 Chevrolet Corvette suspension front and rear, a totally custom interior, a host of body modifications, and a custom chassis. A 12-inch stretch to the wheelbase is the most striking change. It made a massive difference to the Mustang II’s troubled proportions, righting one of the most egregious wrongs in the car’s original design. The rear wheel opening was enlarged and looks like it was shifted back a bit, but most of the change came by coaxing the front wheel opening forward. The increased wheelbase drastically shortened the front overhang and had a huge impact on the car’s balance, as the engine is well behind the front spindles.


Despite plenty of custom bodywork, including new wheel openings and flares inspired by the fifth-gen Mustang, this ambitious custom still has the best bits of ‘70s style that the original Mustang II offered. The result is a purposeful stance that looks appropriate for a sporty car and it still works well 10 years after it was completed, not an easy task for a custom car this ambitious.

Here’s how it looked when it was show at SEMA in 2014.Brandan Gillogly

When this car was first built, it was painted Kona Blue and powered by a 6.8-liter Ford V-10, the kind you’d find in a Super Duty truck. The iron-block engine made a statement and although we never got to hear it driven in anger, it had to make a unique sound as it produced just shy of 400 horsepower. This version of the car is a more iconic Mustang color, Grabber Blue. We think it suits it nicely and better highlights all of the custom bodywork. The other welcome change is the switch to Coyote V-8 power. Yeah, the V-10 was interesting, but the Coyote is shorter, lighter, and more powerful. That’s tough to argue against.


We hope this car finds a new owner who will appreciate its interesting melding of Mustang styling trends and can inspire others to put some effort into rehabilitating some unloved classics, Mustang II or otherwise. It’s already got us thinking about how this sort of treatment could transform a Chevy Monza Spyder or even an AMC Gremlin. What other Malaise-era coupes would you consider?


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    ^agree with hyper

    Roush Mustang II “Sudden Death” was done in-era without being a partial rebody/stretch. They did cut the cowl out to do engine setback, etc. Mustang II can look just fine without going deep into 6 figures at the custom shop.

    Brandan, from someone who was around when these cars were in the show room. NO Mustang Ii was ever “cool” as they were Pintos with nicer body work.
    Ford came really close to destroying all the customer good will built up by the 19641/2 to 1972 models.

    Peak muscle-look Mustang is 69-70, and aside from the 68-earlier side coves nearly all the “retro styling cues” of the 2005 later Mustangs come from the design concept refinement that is the 69.

    Mustang II greatly outsold the 69.

    Mustang II recaptured the wider audience of the magical 64 1/2, because it was more like the 64 1/2 than the long body 71-73 Mustangs.

    People griped about the Fox body a lot too, then they put the 5.0 in it. Mustang II never got that swagger (Cobra stickers and body kit don’t count –though fun).

    No offense to Brougham fans, but Mustang II was not well-served in the years that followed by those extra styling bits and later-despised color schemes. 5 mph bumpers worked with very few designs, at least the first few years where they just looked like a lot of bulked tacked on. And you have the strangled performance due to early emissions laws. All of this lost the “muscle/sporty” Mustang crowd, sure –but everything mass market sucked then too for sporty performance that the average person might aspire to.

    If the secretaries and teachers don’t buy Mustang II and Fox body 4 cylinders we never would have got to performance variants and the last 20 years of modern Mustang. I get that lots of people don’t like the Mustang II (or Fox body to a degree) but respect that they are important parts of the Mustang tapestry.

    As far as the Pinto insult. It’s pointless. Camaro was the Nova platform project, first Mustang was the Falcon, Fox/Panther was just about everything Ford for awhile. Only in recent generations has Mustang been its own pure platform –which is actually a business case against it. 1000s of street rodders like their Pinto front suspension just fine.

    And yet the ’74 Mustang II was the highest selling model year since 1967- in fact that Pinto- based “failure” outsold the 71-73 models every single year of production. It may not have been “cool”, but it was the right choice to downsize.

    I never thought they looked as terrible as many others, and yes, I was around when they were in the showroom. The problem was it was a Pinto. So in the end, the best Mustang II is a bit like being the littlest giant.

    Looks terrific. Usually not a resto-mod fan but this one rights all the poor Mustang IIs styling wrongs. Nice to see a Coyote in that engine bay, and NOT an LS motor.

    As a Brit follower of this, and many other American car sites, exactly what is a Coyote engine? If it’s a Ford mill then I’m all for it, if it’s a GM motor, not so. Pity that it already has a GM front suspension. I’m one of them “All Ford” “All GM” “All original” people.

    If you have to do this much to a car to get a desirable look, is it really worth it?

    As mentioned in the article, I’ve seen some really cool “virtual” or AI, AMC Gremlins and Chevy Monzas. Personally, I’d love to see them brought to life, without having to cut them up, like was done here. I also saw the same sort of treatment done to a Ford Pinto, and let me tell you, I’d be proud to drive it. Yeah, cars of that era sucked, but with a modern drivetrain, suspension set-up, updated interior and a flashy paint job or vinyl wrap, they could become very desirable and a hell of a lot cheaper than the 60s icons from the big three that are sought after now.

    The ‘ Monroe Mustang ‘ has always been the gold standard in Mustang II design and you can see the influence of that design here, which is appropriate. My personal favorite is the Mach 1 Karen Allen drove in ‘Starman ‘ …because…well… she drove it… and… Whomever in the wardrobe department fitted those Levis on her should have received the Oscar for ‘ Best Costume Design ‘ A Levis edition should have been offered in the Mustang II instead of the jeep.

    Agreed. A little rake and some bigger wheels/fatter tires really made that Starman Stang look good. I believe that was the first II I ever looked at and thought, I wouldn’t mind driving that. If 1984 Karen Allen was along for the ride, even better.

    I wouldn’t go that far but I do think that either the nose should have been moved a further 4″ forward or the front axle moved 4″ rearward would have made it more aesthetically correct. As it is, the way I’m seeing it is that it’s likely to bend in the middle!

    I love this build. Very cool. It’s amusing that the Mustang II front end, a nice upgrade to lots of hot rods, was replaced on this car.

    The Chevy Monza Spyder with a v-8 would be interesting. One of the car magazine featured one back in the day. I had an ‘85 Olds Starfire back then and always thought there was plenty of room for a small block.

    I never thought you could make a Mustang II that much worse looking. I’d much rather have a stock bodied Mustang II than this thing. Yuck.

    And I can’t believe that the Pinto nonsense is still being discussed. The Mustang II had way less Pinto than the original had Falcon.

    I’m not feeling it. Also how much Mustang II is in this with all the parts coming from everywhere else?

    I think this is the coolest Mustang II ever. I’ve seen some pretty tall dwarfs at the circus, too.

    The Capri wide body would have been a better choice. My ‘75 IMSA body Monza is insured with Hagerty. 😃

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