Ford Mustang Timeline: The Good, The Bad, and The Muscly Page 3

March 10, 2010
The 1970s Mustang: One Lurid Spinout

1970: Is it "Total Performance Day," or the end of an era? Ford commemorates the Mustang with a massive show of horsepower on November 7 in Kansas City, Mo. It's the last time anyone puts "total performance" and "Mustang" so close together in a press release for quite some time.

1971: Does this body make it look fat? The entire Mustang lineup gets longer and wider--up almost two feet and 500 pounds on the original. Designers layer on scoops and big wheels to hide its girth, but nothing can hide the performance hit. The 375-hp Cobra Jet is the last true "musclecar" Mustang for more than a decade.

1972: Emissions rules grip the Mustang--strangle it, to some. The Mach 1 gets detuned to 275 hp. Wait - it gets worse.

1973: The end of many Mustang eras come this year. In 1973, Ford builds the last convertible 'Stang for almost a decade. Meanwhile, it plots the end of the Falcon-based car and finishes plans for a radically smaller "Mustang" with some pieces common to the Pinto.

1974: The Mustang II arrives--and it's a huge success, at first. Ford sells almost 400,000 copies in the first year, in coupe and hatchback body styles. Performance? Pretty awful, though some sweet "Rallye" sticker packages are offered. There's no ragtop. There is no V-8 option. For us, there is no Mustang.

1975: Bowing to the obvious, Ford brings back a radically detuned 302-cid V-8.

1976: The Cobra II package debuts on the Mustang with a hood scoop, front air dam, and rear spoiler--but, alas, no added power. The Cobra edition gets its due as Farrah Fawcett's ride in her sole season on Charlie's Angels. Not exactly Bullitt, is it?

1977: Malaise wins again: the Mustang II avoids being put on the endangered list, but Ford adds a fastback version with T-tops.

1978: In its mercifully short final year, the Mustang II gets its "5.0" badge.

1979: A new Mustang is born. The fifth-generation car is said to be based on the new "Fox" chassis--just like the Ford Fairmont--and buff books point out its similarities to the old Falcon running gear. But the Mustang's back in recognizable form, with better days to come.

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