1974 Ford Mustang II Model Profile

Lee Iacocca's Little Jewel

Ford Mustang II
Bull-Doser [Public domain]/Wikimedia Commons

The year 1974 marked the dawn of a new era for the Ford Mustang. The OPEC oil embargo, coupled with an uncertain economy, changed the way consumers viewed driving. As such, Ford was forced to return to the drawing board. Its goal: create a new Mustang that would be both fuel efficient and capable of passing newly introduced emissions standards.

Lee Iacocca, President of Ford Motor Company, latched on to the project, coined the “Mustang II”. When asked about the challenges he faced in creating a new Mustang, he said, “All the 1974 will have to be is one thing; it will have to be a little jewel.”Of course, Iacocca was no stranger to the Ford Mustang. He, along with a team of designers and engineers, had created the first Ford Mustang back in the early 1960s. His first goal was to create a car that would boost sales. Mustang sales had been on the decline for some time. He also wanted to create a vehicle that could conform to new federal standards, such as the one that mandated bumpers be able to withstand a 5 mph collision without damage to the vehicle.

Production Stats

  • 1974 Ford Mustang II
  • Standard Coupe: 177,671 units
  • Ghia Coupe: 89,477 units
  • Standard Hatchback: 74,799
  • Mach I Hatchback: 44,046
  • Total Production: 385,993 units
  • Retail Price: $3,134 Standard Coupe
  • Retail Price: $3,480 Ghia Coupe
  • Retail Price: $3,328 Standard Hatchback
  • Retail Price: $3,674 Mach I Hatchback

The Mustang II Design

From a design perspective, the 1974 Mustang II was based on the Ford Pinto platform. In fact, it was often referred to as the “Pintostang” during its development. In all, the car featured characteristics of European auto design. It was compact, refined, and cutting edge for the time. For example, in comparison to the 1973 model, the Mustang II was 19 inches shorter and 490 pounds lighter. As for cutting-edge technology, it featured larger taillights for safety, steel-belted radial tires, and rack-and-pinion steering.


  • First Ford Mustang to feature a 4-cylinder engine
  • First Ford Mustang to feature a V-6 engine
  • The Gas Cap was moved from the rear of the car to the side-quarter panel
  • New pull-up Door handles were standard

The biggest change in 1974 is what Ford put under the hood. Only two Mustang engines were offered. They consisted of a 2.3L 4-cylinder engine (88hp) and a 2.8L V-6 engine (105 hp). The V-8 engine was a thing of the past. As such, the 1974 Mustang II was significantly underpowered when compared to previous model years. In fact, its maximum speed was only 99 mph with an estimated 0-60 mph time of 13.8 seconds. Of note, the Mustang II’s front pony emblem was modified to symbolize more of a trot than a gallop. This makes sense, given the lack of power under the hood. That’s not to say the lineup wasn’t cutting edge. In fact, the 2.3L 4-cylinder engine was the first metric American engine ever to be offered. It was also the first 4-cylinder engine to be featured in a Mustang. The 1974 model year also featured the first ever V-6 engine in a Mustang, putting to rest the inline 6 of previous years.

In all, the Mustang II came with two transmission offerings; four-speed manual or three-speed automatic. The car was available as either a coupe or a hatchback. Of those styles, four models were available, consisting of the standard coupe, Ghia coupe, standard hatchback, and Mach I hatchback. The Ghia coupe, named after the Italian design studio, was a luxury version of the Mustang II. The Mach 1 was the performance model. It featured a standard 2.8L V-6 engine as well as Mach I side markings, dual tailpipes, and a Tu-Tone paint job with black paint on the lower body and rear taillight panel.

Other features of the Mustang II included a one-piece front featuring a front fascia and bumper that were molded together. It also featured side scallops similar to those seen on the Mustangs of the 1960s. New pull-up door handles were also standard on the Mustang II. Another characteristic of the car was turn signals mounted on the grille. To the untrained eye, they appeared to be fog lamps. Also of note, Ford moved the gas cap from the rear of the vehicle to the driver’s side quarter panel in 1974.

For those buyers seeking flair, a vinyl-covered roof was available as an added option. Tinted glass near the top of the windshield was also available for an additional cost, as were special forged aluminum wheels on the Mach I.

The Public Response

The 1974 Mustang II wasn’t a power horse, but it was nimble and got good gas mileage. As such, consumers of the day loved the car. For a little more than $3,000, they could purchase a base model coupe. Throw in all the bells and whistles, and the Mustang II went for a bit more than $4,000. In spite of its lack of power beneath the hood, the Mustang II was a huge success. In fact, Ford sold 385,993 of the cars in 1974. Those were good numbers, considering the company had only sold 134,867 Mustangs in 1973. The car was loved. So much, in fact, that it was voted Motor Trend Magazine’s “Car of the Year” in 1974. Talk about a prestigious honor. According to the magazine, the car was awarded the title because of its superior fuel economy and overall value. As you can imagine, Lee Iacocca was once again happy to have his name associated with a winning vehicle.

Looking back, many people today reflect on the 1974 Mustang as an under performer. Its important to remember, the Mustang II was created with a specific purpose. As the sales figures proved, the car was a success in its day. In the grand scheme of things, it goes to show how versatile the Ford Mustang has been over the years. Unlike many cars on the market, the Mustang has been able to weather the storm by adapting to the needs of the day.

Engine Offerings

  • Engine Code Y: 140 cubic inch 2.3L 2V 4-cylinder engine @ 88hp
  • Engine Code Z: 171 cubic inch 2.8L 2V V-6 engine @ 105hp

Vehicle Identification Number Decoder

Example VIN #4F05Z100001

4=Last digit of Model Year (1974)
F=Assembly Plant (F-Dearborn, R-San Jose)
05=Body Code Mach I (02-coupe, 03-matchback, 04-Ghia)
Z=Engine Code
100001=Consecutive unit number

Exterior Colors: Bright Green Gold Metallic, Bright Red, Dark Red, Ginger Glow, Green Glow, Light Blue, Medium Bright, Blue Metallic, Medium Copper Metallic, Medium Lime Yellow, Medium Yellow Gold, Pearl White, Saddle Bronze Metallic, Silver Metallic, Tan Glow