As humans move into the second decade of life, they typically experience some of the most profound physical and emotional changes they will ever undergo. As their friends grow up and their world changes, they must adapt. The same was true for Ford Mustang as it approached its adolescence.
Mustang actually began to experience its adolescent growth spurt fairly early. After a phenomenally successful launch in 1964 with six-cylinder and small-block V8 engines, the original pony car jumped into the increasingly competitive muscle car battles of the late 1960s. Between 1964 and 1973, Mustang grew more than one foot in length and gained nearly 700 pounds to accommodate the big-block V8 engines of the time.
However, by early 1968, some fans of the original pony car were already lamenting its growth. At the May 1968 annual stockholders meeting, Anna Muccioli took the floor to query company executives:
“I have a ’65 Mustang and I don’t like what’s happening. They’re blowing them up. Why can’t you just leave a sports car small? I mean, you keep blowing them up and starting with another little one, blow that one up and start another one. I mean, why don’t you just leave them?”
The combination of such complaints from customers, waning sales of sports and muscle cars in the early 1970s, and the coming of new emissions and safety regulations forced Team Mustang to rethink what the second-generation car would look like. Early designs based on an updated version of the 1971-to-1973 platform were abandoned, and the decision was made to move Mustang to a new, smaller and lighter platform better suited for the coming era of oil embargoes and crash tests.
While Mustang II is admittedly not the favorite member of the family tree for most pony car fans, it was the right car for the time. It was an essential step to keep Mustang alive during a very challenging time for the entire industry and the sporty car segment in particular. Without Mustang II, the line likely would have faced extinction in the 1970s and there would be no 50th anniversary to celebrate
In the fall of 1973, Ford unveiled the all-new 1974 Mustang II.