Cars that live long, unmolested lives are considered survivors. Some survive as icons of past glories, while others serve as cautionary tales of historical malfeasance. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Cobra II is a survivor, but will its price survive your scrutiny?
In Popeye comics, the Jeep was a magical cat-like creature with a sausage nose and a penchant for mischief. Not so magical, apparently, was yesterday's 1982 CJ8 Scrambler Jeep, which despite its remarkably clean presentation, couldn't muster much enthusiasm for its nearly thirteen large asking price. Its 60% Crack Pipe loss was one Rubicon even its legendary capabilities couldn't overcome.
Despite their original intent being use overseas, the Jeep is about as intrinsically American a vehicle as you might find. Equally red, white and blue - but contrastingly designed for both our wide U.S. highways and ample asses - was Ford's iconic personal coupe, the Mustang. And like all things American, its initial svelte success was clouded by ensuing years of bloated overindulgence that left the Mustang more of an impersonal coupe.
Then along came the II.
In case you weren't yet born then, or did so many drugs that the decade is but a milky blur punctuated by Cheech & Chong movies and Eagles albums, you should know that in the seventies, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, decided to drive up the price of crude oil by artificially constraining its supply. Yes it was a dick move, but the positive result was the end of the tumorous growth exhibited by pretty much every car built here, and their replacement with smaller, more fuel-efficient models that also happened to handle better and be easier to park. One such recipient of OPEC's indirect weight loss program was Ford's Mustang, a car that had reached lardasstic proportions by the early part of the decade. The Mustang II arrived for the 1974 model year as a modern interpretation of the original, right down to weight and dimensions. That was made possible by basing the Mustang II on the platform of Ford's small car - the Pinto - rather than, as previously, the midsizier Falcon. The Pinto parts of the new ‘Stang included rack and pinion steering - a first for the marque, as well as a base four cylinder engine, which also was a II debut.
Perhaps it wasn't really up to fans' expectations of what a Mustang should be, or maybe it was tainted simply by the constraints of its era, but the Mustang II has been vilified over the years for being the most road apple-like of all of Ford's ponies. Today's 1978 Cobra II hatchback begs to differ with that assertion, and stands in all its un-restored ‘70s glory as a testament to tape treatments.
This was the last year of the Pintstang, the ‘79s returning to their mid-sized roots by being based on the Fairmont's fox platform. It should be pointed out up front that this is a Cobra II, and not the more rare King Cobra, nor does it have the t-tops that, along with mirrored sun glasses and un-buttoned silk shirts defined the ‘70s douchebag. It is a tape and louver treatment that rivaled Pontiac's screaming chicken festooned Trans Am for gaudy ostentation. This one is in remarkable good shape, being claimed to have been owned originally by one of the owners of Jeggs, and then by a little old lady - or so says the ad.
It's remarkable that such an extensive collection of vinyl decals should have lasted nigh-on 33 years, and I doubt you'd be able to find another in such pristine original shape, both inside and out, anywhere outside of the Ford Museum. The Cobra package added the loud and proud side and center stripes, along with the backwards-facing hood scoop to nowhere, and louvers for both rear and side glass. Sporty! Inside, the differences between Cobra and rental car are less obvious, although the ‘engine-turned' dash and sport wheel still stand out. The Mustang II was never a commodious car, and for ‘78 exclusively, the hatchback received a split squab rear seat making sure that nobody was stuck in the em> bitch seat. Seat covers in ruby red keep the front vinyl thigh basters from wearing out, and the backs, as well as the rest of the interior, look pretty clean, right down to the 8-track. On a sad note, the tach - like many Americans - seems to have lost its full time job.
Not that it had a lot to do when it was 9 to 5. As noted, the Mustang II offered a wider choice of cylinder count than any previous edition, unfortunately the selection of horsepower wasn't quite so broad. The top of the line 302 V8 produced a tepid 136-bhp, while the base 2.3 farted out just 88. At 90, the 2.8-litre V6 in this Cobra II pumps out just two more than the four, but those are an important two, and the additional torque makes makes the extra pounds the V6 cars carry around nearly moot. Making more out of less is a four-speed stick with an original - and still creepy - leather-molded rubber boot, and topped by a black plastic knob.
Okay, the 90-bhp V6 pretty much peed on the barbecue of any interest this car held for you personally, but here's the thing - with the condition it's in, along with 45,000 miles on its clock, this car is like Goldilocks lunch selection. It's in too good of shape to just dismiss, and it doesn't have few enough miles to make it a museum piece. That makes it perfect for dropping in a modern engine and making it the hippiest hot rod in town. Those stripes will offend the gentry, and the thought of finally getting the go to balance the show might be inducement enough for someone to buy this Cobra.
But what about the price? The seller here has set his By It Now at $7,500, which is about three grand higher than the car went for new. Of course time wounds all heels, and as I stated, this one has become rare through attrition. So what do you think, does that $7,500 price make this Mustang a must-have? Or, is that too much cheddar for so much cheese?
Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.