While then Ford President Lee Iacocca had wanted the V-8 banished from the Mustang II lineup, marketing apparently got into the mix and in what had to be an effort to satisfy performance enthusiasts, the small-block V-8 reappeared in the 1975 Mustang, along with the V-6 and the standard four. There were still only four model levels, as well, the base notchback, base fastback, Ghia and Mach II.
Still basically a beefed up unibody Pinto, at heart, the Mustang II had to be radically massaged to stuff the larger engine under the hood. The design team had to add nearly two inches of additional width and length and nearly an inch in height to accommodate what was essentially just the basic 289 short-block, although they called the vehicle the 5.0. They managed without increasing the wheelbase of the vehicle, quite a feat. The design team also beefed up the brakes and suspension moving to 9-inch front discs and 9.7-inch rear drums.
The lines remained the same, as did the body styles – no convertible, just the fastback and notchback – and the front end remained the same, although the huge eggcrate center oval became more pronounced. The 1975 Mustang still looked to many observers at the time like a massaged Pinto and its performance, despite the inclusion of the V-8 was still very leisurely at best. Indeed, Ford destroked the engine to 122 horsepower. Its handling, unless you opted for the specialized Rallye package, was nothing to write home about, although it was better than the Pinto.
There is one area that did help the noise and stability factor of the Mustang II and that was encasing the center subframe in its own rubber enclosure, noted HowStuffWorks.com in its history of the 1974-78 Mustang II.
Interestingly, the 1974 and 75 Mustangs were nicely positioned to catch the business from a public that had just lived through the first of the two 1970s gas crises, where the price of gas literally doubled overnight and there were many shortages. Yet, because of the “stagflation” of the era – economic stagnation and inflation at the same time, about the only time in history that this has happened – the industry, as a whole suffered, and Mustang sales tanked from the almost 400,000 of its first year to about 188,000, where they remained.
Though, even HowStuffWorks.com doesn’t realize it, the Mustang II really never caught on because it wasn’t a Mustang. The 1974 restyle – 1975 was virtually untouched and featured the bulbous curved fenders and long front end of the 1974 and the short rear deck – was supposed to evoke memories of the original “classic” Mustang and it just didn’t. If they had stayed with the original lines of the Ghia prototype, brought back in 1970 for study and shown on HowStuffWorks.com, the automaker might have had a better chance.
The option list remained pretty full and included cloth, vinyl or leather upholstery, air, radio upgrade and special Paint/handling packages like the Silver Package that featured a beefed up suspension.