Much like Windows Vista, and actress Jennifer Grey's nose job, people love to hate on the Mustang II as a woeful product transformation. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Cobra II may prove that ire to be unfounded, but will you still hate its price?
Do you know what we do love? We love big wagons. We also are pretty sweet on big torquey mills. Put them together like in yesterday's custom Custom Cruiser and the love should have flowed like wine. Unfortunately that wasn't the case because one of the thing we hate are big prices and at ten grand, that wagon's asking was big enough to go down in a 67% Crack Pipe loss. Unrequited love, to be sure.
A lot of people out there like to call Carroll Shelby's first attempt at rabidizing the Ford Mustang a 'Cobra.' Truth be told, while that car did carry the iconic rising snake emblem, it was in fact named the GT 350, and was supposedly named for the distance in feet between Shelby's production shop and where the race cars were built.
Another fun fact is that in 1966 when automotive practical joker Alejandro DeTomaso introduced his second road car, it carried the same small block as Shelby's early AC-based roadsters, and was named Mangusta, or mongoose, which just so happens to be the animal that traditionally effs-up cobras' shit.
Pretty much everybody ignored DeTomaso's joke, but Shelby didn't use the Cobra name officially on the Mustang until 1968 with the introduction of the Shelby Cobra GT350 and the 428-powered GT500. Production of these cars was moved from Shelby's shop to the Ionia Michigan shop of A.O. Smith, under Ford's direction as the automaker attempted to exert greater control over the special model's production.
By the time today's 1976 Mustang Cobra II was released, Shelby American was totally out of the picture at Ford, the two companies having parted ways in 1970. In the divorce however, Ford got custody of the Cobra name. Actually, Ford bought the name from Shelby, and as U.S. Copyright law has a use it or lose it clause, we got the Cobra II, Electric Boogaloo.
For years, the '74 - '78 Mustang has been the object of derision due to its lowly Pinto origins. The thing of it is though, this first revamp of the Mustang actually brought the car back in alignment in both the size and styling with the original cars. The previous '71-'73 cars had grown massive and represented a pale imitation of the Mustang style.
The Cobra II also aligned with the original '65-'66 Shelby editions, featuring Ford's Windsor V8, here in 302 cubic inch displacement, and a four-speed manual gearbox. Also just like the original, the front bucket seats are as shapeless as American Middle East policy, and the cars were only offered in fastback (with a handy hatch here) body styles. Yes, later Shelby Mustangs came in convertibles too.
Where this Cobra one-ups the original one is in seating capacity and in certain chassis specs. Shelby tossed out the back seats on the GT 350 but this bad boy lets four party down. Also, while the original Falcon-based Mustang offered only brodie knob-demanding recirculating ball steering, this one gives you a nice and tight rack & pinion unit.
Of course one of the factors that caused people to equate the Mustang II - and hence its Cobra Dos trim package - to equine excrement is that at the time Ford simply couldn't get a handle on the 302's emissions and fuel economy, while still letting its freak flag fly performance-wise. From the factory, the '76 302 only put out a miserable 139-bhp, which, if it's any consolation, was a modest increase over the previous year's jaw-droppingly low 122.
This one's been blessed with an 650-cfm Edelbrock 4bbl, and of course there are so many bolt-on performance enhancements available for the 5.0 that packing on the ponies on this car should only be a matter of how much change you've got.
Outside of the engine, which has some nice finned valve covers, the car looks to be in reasonably good shape and to tell the truth, I think these Mustang II hatchbacks are damn good looking cars. Add to that sexy base the faux hood scoop, louvered side glass and floppy spoiler in back and yeah, I think this one's a total panty-dropper.
It's not all Sunny D and Golden Grahams however, as while the ad notes that the car has always been either garaged or covered, it also claims that the odo reads 07108. Sticking to the dash, that Shelby badge is a bit misleading too as Ol' Shel' had nothing to do with these cars. There's also an issue with how the massive front bumper aligns with the bodywork, and the fact that the interior is about as '70s horrific in style as you could imagine. Still, aside from the skull shifter, it all seems to be there, for better or worse.
It's hard to imagine a marque with more history and veneration than the Mustang, and present prices for the most desirable editions reflect that. This one is not one of the most desirable, but I think it's still pretty cool. The question for you however is whether or not it's $7,500 cool.
What do you think, is this Cobra II worth that kind of scratch? Or, is this a Mustang II priced like #2?
H/T to Brian Black for the hookup!
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