As Ford kicked off what's expected to be a year-long media blitz leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Mustang next April, a pair of dueling online
posts looked back at what was inarguably the low point in the model's history, the 1974 Mustang II.
At Autoblog, guest poster Rob Sass authored a piece on the . Along
with such classics as the 185-horsepower 1977 Camaro Z28, the 23-second quarter mile Peugeot 504 diesel, and the 9.4-second 0-60 Ferrari 308, Sass lumped
in the second-generation pony car.
Sass claims the "Pinto-based Mustang II nearly killed the Mustang franchise" with a powertrain lineup that topped out at a meager 140 hp for the V8. At the
time, Road & Track called Mustang II "neither fast, nor particularly good-handling."
No, the Mustang II was not particularly good in any respect other than sales. Many might call the Mustang II a cynical play by Ford to capitalize on the
hallowed nameplate launched just nine years earlier, and they probably wouldn't be entirely wrong.
On the other hand, former Autoblog contributor Sam Abuelsamid makes a different . While not defending the
Mustang II on its own merits, he argues that without that variant of the pony car, we might not have any Mustang to celebrate today. As the automotive
world was hit by "a perfect storm of new safety, emissions and fuel economy standards at the same time as the first of two oil supply/price shocks" Ford
had no choice but to evolve the Mustang.
The oil embargoes were a surprise, but the new regulations were not, and Dearborn's engineers and designers reacted with a car that was right for the time
if not for the enthusiast. In the absence of the electronic control systems that would ultimately bring us to our current golden age of power and
efficiency, the anemic and somewhat unattractive Mustang II was the best Ford could manage.
While celebrating Mustang's 49th birthday at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant where the current generation is built, Ford made the point that the Mustang has
been in continuous production throughout, never once missing a model year. That's a claim that neither Camaro nor even Corvette can make.
So, you can point at the Mustang II and argue that it nearly killed the brand. Or you can look at the bigger picture and see that maybe it actually saved
it from the glue factory.