As the Mustang continues its current sales dominance over its Camaro and Challenger competitors, it’s a good time to look back in history and check out one of its most reviled predecessors, which nevertheless scored many sales for Ford in those transitional 1970s. You think you hate the 1974 Mustang II? Wait til you see what it almost became.
Car design is not an easy task. Even today, designers are charged with charting a course well into the future, where the cars they dream up must live for five or six years to pay for all the tooling required to build them. There’s a lot of money riding on every contour and curve, and no one knew that like Ford in early 1970s with the Mustang.
In 1964, the Mustang had debuted to untold-blockbuster sales. But by 1970 it had bloated out to something only a portion of which those initial buyers would be interested. That’s a tall cliff from which to fall, and drastic change was needed.
The photos above depict the first stabs at figuring out that new path, and we can all be glad that most of this one was left on the drawing table. It’s a pained hodgepodge of trendy cues that would have been dated by the 1973 debut.
This one is also of the previous era, with muscular proportions that would have rendered the rear seat useless.
Check out that strong chin of a front bumper.
This one follows in the vein of low-slung impracticality.
Here is a more attractive concept, with its clean lines and straightforward boxy greenhouse.
Another appealingly simple concept, with lots of easy horizontal lines.
This one is a horror show, with the dumb look of a gaping mouth-breather. Less a Mustang than a grouper?
This drawing brings us closer to the curvy fender and window lines of the production car. Not much else survived, unfortunately.
Here we get very close to the lines of the car we all know, with even more bulky curvature to the sides.
Was the Mustang II a bad car? It’s hard to find many defenders, as there are so many other more appealing Mustangs out there.
At the time, the Mustang II was the right answer for folks looking for a compact sporty car, and it sold about 300,000 in its first year. But soon, the Japanese would begin to pose a real threat to this market with the Toyota Celica and Honda Accord, and Ford would then re-figure the Mustang again to compete in a changing world. The Mustang II was best Ford came up with in the early ’70s, and its initial success shows the company was not off its game in calling in a wide swath of buyers.
As for the car? Perhaps the Mustang II is best left to the era of bell-bottoms from whence it came. Still, it is interesting to see the work that went into creating it.
Tell us in the comments: after seeing the concepts, do you have a new respect for what the Mustang II came to be?