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1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra Convertible - Never Say Never
Ford never built a '78 Mustang convertible, right? Wrong!
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Always and never are two words that should never be used in the Mustang hobby--well--except when you're writing a story about something that most folks deny the existence of. But the evidence is here on paper and in the slides that we took of this '78 King Cobra.
Rumors of this car have been floating around Houston, Texas, for some time. On a couple occasions I personally heard whispered stories about a Mustang II convertible that was sold through a dealership. As do most hobbyists, I dismissed the comments as being bench racing gone amuck. After all, every stitch of literature on the IIs said that the convertible was dead as of 1974. The best most sun-worshippers could hope for was a T-top, right?
Well, kinda. Two or three years after the last of these comments were made, I saw the car pictured here--at a Fun Ford Weekend. At first I looked at the car with some skepticism, thinking that it must be a fake--a King Cobra that had been hacked. But stunningly, the work was just too nice--too complete. I shrugged my shoulders, scratched my fuzzy head, and walked away.
For five years the drop-top II was nowhere near the top of my cranial activities. Then, a couple years ago, I got a call from Mark Provenzano of Lake Jackson, Texas, and he stated that he indeed owned said convertible II, and would we be interested in snapping some shots of the car. At first, I was kinda hedging. We aren't into radical mods of that type, and I began to build my excuses from there--right up until Mark told me that the car had been sold new at Charley Thomas Ford as a convertible. Hmmm. Now it was getting interesting. He had some documentation via the Department of Public Safety that stated the car had been sold new at Charley Thomas as a convertible. After further digging, Mark learned that the convertible was not directly delivered to the dealership but to Emmess Coachbuilders in Florida, where the conversion was performed.
In 1981 Mark went to the dealership looking for answers. "Arriving at the dealership, I found that the car got a lot of attention from the salesman. The only person that knew about the car's history was the sales manager. When I talked to him, he was quite informative, and even offered to trade a new '81 Mustang title for the convertible's title. I declined the offer."
Before you get any illusions that the King was a pristine example, think again. Apparently the car was treated more like a rental car than anything else. At two years of age--when Mark found it--the Cobra was definitely worse for wear. The interior was shot, one of the top latches was broken, and the C4 automatic tranny slipped between Second and Third gears.
Still, the car was a neat find by anyone's estimation. Being a King Cobra, it came with the tape stripes, hoodscoop, ground effects, dual Sports mirrors, and the now-metric 5.0 engine insignia--a first for the Mustang, if not Ford. The convertible King also came equipped for maximum eye appeal with the Bright Red interior and exterior. From the time Mark bought the car as a college student, he has slowly been working on it. We caught up with him and his stepson, Bryan, at the Houston Grand National, and finally snapped some photos of this 1-of-44 convertible. One of 44? That's right. There are others that are probably never to be found, right? Of course you know how we feel about that.