1978 FORD MUSTANG – REWRITES THE BOOK
The Mustang had been growing in size and weight with every body change since its inception in 1964 as a ’65 model. Now the 2nd-generation, which came out in 1974, reversed that trend, sending the Mustang back in size to about what it was at the beginning. Ford saw the handwriting on the wall back in 1971 and saw the need to downsize its fleet and improve gas mileage. They accomplished this on the Mustang by building the new car on the same chassis as the Ford Pinto, with 4 cylinder power and 4-lug rims. It was a humble beginning and one that drove many a hardened Mustang fan insane at the time. It was such a radical departure from the norm that Ford even gave it a new name…sort of. The Mustang II, and even won 1974 Motor Trend Car of the Year. For the times, the Mustang II actually sold quite well, at around 200,000 units per year in its short model life (1974 through 1978). The Fox Body Mustangs launched in ’79 and recaptured the performance-minded public’s imagination.
1978 FORD MUSTANG ENGINES
Within one model year (1975) a V8 option was available. But for the most part, most Mustang IIs got by with the 2.3 liter OHC 4-cylinder that got exemplary mileage, upwards of 34mpg, which was stellar mileage at the time. But the 5.0 V8 was the big news for enthusiasts, which even in ‘smog-dog’ guise, accelerated the lightweight car handily. For 1978, the King Cobra option package became available, and was limited to just 4,313 units. It featured a big front spoiler, big stripes and a big Cobra decal on the hood that looked suspiciously like the “Screaming Chicken” on the hood of the Pontiac Trans Am. Of course, all King Cobras came with the 5.0 (302ci) V8 as part of the package.