The Short Life and Happy Death of Mustang II

The Short Life and Happy Death of Mustang II

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I was a mere slip of a lad when the Ford Motor Company introduced the original pony car, the Mustang, in 1964. It was a big hit in our suburban New York neighborhood.

I was impressed. Years later, when I bought my first car, it was a second-hand 1970 Mustang convertible. I drive a red Mustang ragtop today.

I bring this up because, as the presidential candidates race to come up with the dumbest idea for addressing the gas crisis, I’m reminded of the Mustang II.

For those who did not suffer through the Tony Manero, ayatollah, gas-lines years, the Mustang II was Ford’s instant answer to the energy crisis of the late 1970s. The original Mustang had gotten big and heavy as Ford larded on performance extras, so a redesign was inevitable. But the Mustang II was awful.

Unless, of course, you like a wussy compact car, on a Pinto frame, with a 4-cylinder 90-horsepower engine that went from 0 to 60 in about 12 minutes.

In pumpkin orange.

Ford tried to make amends, adding a bigger engine and, in later years, Cobra and King Cobra models, but wisely abandoned the experiment in 1978.

The next generation Mustang, introduced in 1979, represented a return to basics. And in 1983, after a ten-year hiatus, Ford brought the ragtop back. As the Mustang improved, over time, it met the freedom-lovin zeitgeist of the Reagan years—just as the Mustang II was a fitting symbol for the silly, sensitive Seventies.

“Buh-buh-buh Bennie and the Jets….”

So what does this have to do with our current straits?

I offer the saga of the Mustang II as a cautionary tale, before we start dumping oil on the sandy beaches of Santa Barbara and Cape Cod , or invite Charles Montgomery Burns to dot the landscape with nuclear power plants.

In the story of this sad little automobile, we recognize that the first reaction of our corporate and political leaders to pending economic discomfort can, as likely as not, result in hideous blunders.

In pumpkin orange.