The original Mustangs were all about performance with a touch of
comfort, the Mustang II showed the obvious shift in market trends. It
was obvious from the release of the 1974 Mustang II that performance
was not a concern for Ford, and the performance market was not even a
consideration. While the removal of the big block V8’s came as a
surprise, the engine lineup for the Mustang II was a complete shock.
Not only was there no big block V8, there was no V8 at all. The
“premium” engine (or highest performance engine) was a miniscule 2.8L
V6 offering up only 105 horsepower, and the entry level engine: 88
horsepower, 2.3L inline 4 cylinder. There was no Mustang GT offered,
but a new Mustang II buyer could choose from either a coupe or a
hatchback. The premium coupe was the Ghia, and this trim line replaced
the Grande as the luxury edition Mustang. The “performance model” was
still the Mach 1, but with 101 horsepower, it was a far cry from the
Mach 1 of the 1960’s. The key points of this new Mustang II were
luxury, comfort, and the addition of items like the vinyl roof, and
more so, the rack and pinion steering setup, helping to bolster this
new luxury coupe image.
While not a quarter mile monster, this new
Mustang II was smaller, and more efficient than previous Mustangs,
which was the direction of the American automotive market at the time.
Thanks to these market trends, first year sales were way up with over
385,000 Mustang II’s sold in 1974. This more than equaled the sales
numbers of 1972 and 1973 combined. Certainly no pony car, the 1974 Ford
Mustang II was popular enough with buyers and magazine editors that it
was named the 1974 Motor Trend Car of the Year. It could be assumed
that most everyone who really liked the Mustang II bought one in 1974,
as sales figures for the duration of the Mustang II would never get
anywhere near the numbers from the first year.