For almost a decade, consumers had come to know the Ford Mustang as a power performance machine, with performance increases delivered on an almost yearly basis. In 1974, Ford took a different approach. Instead of increasing the engine size, they downsized it. A completely redesigned Mustang II was launched, available in either a 2.3L inline four cylinder engine or a 2.8L V-6. Neither engine was extremely powerful, outputting 88 hp and 105 hp respectively. To the dismay of many Mustang enthusiasts, the V-8 engine was no longer an option, and the convertible model was a thing of the past. In addition to a smaller engine, the car itself was more compact. In comparison to the 1973 model, the Mustang II was 19 inches shorter and 490 pounds lighter. Bottom line, this Mustang was, in all respects, a completely different car. Oddly enough, consumers loved the new design and the Mustang II was a big hit. Ford sold close to 385,993 units within the first year. The company hadnít seen such lucrative sales since the introduction of the Mustang in April of Ď64.
Consumers spoke and Ford listened. In 1975, the V-8 engine once again returned to the Mustang lineup. In spite of its return, this new 302-cubic inch 4.94L engine was nothing like engines of the past. In fact, the í75 V-8 was only capable of producing around 130 hp, and was only available with an automatic transmission. Ford coined the new engine the 5.0, thus making this vehicle the first official metric designated Mustang. The 5.0 name would stay with the Mustang through the 1980s and 1990s, representing performance power in a new generation of Mustang vehicles.
Inspired by the Shelby Mustang, Ford introduced the Mustang Cobra II in 1976. In the spirit of racing, the Cobra II featured a non-functional hood scoop, distinctive front and rear spoilers, as well as racing stripes in white and blue or black and gold. The car very much resembled the look and feel of the original Shelby Mustang, although it lacked the power of the original.
The special edition King Cobra Mustang made its debut in 1978. It was the first Ford Mustang to officially feature the 5.0 badge. In all, an estimated 5,000 units were produced. The King Cobra had a distinctive exterior style, featuring a prominent air dam and a cobra decal on the hood. Other than this release, the Mustang lineup remained mostly unchanged.