We have to give Bobby Aldrich a lot of credit for courage. He boldly walked up to us at the Mustangs Plus Fall Display in 2001, and asked us if we'd like to feature his '76 Mustang II Stallion in our magazine. we were skeptical-a Stallion? Something right out of an Aaron Spelling "jiggle" television show. A sporty, economy Mustang notchback from the lackluster '70s, an era most of us love to hate.
Because I've always been a staunch supporter of the underdog, I walked over to Bobby's deuce for a closer look. I saw the traditional Mustang II profile-meek, mild, decidedly vanilla. What sold me on the car was Bobby's imagination. He built a tasteful restomod Mustang II, complete with the original 2.31- carbureted four popper.
Why build a no-respect Mustang II hardtop? Because it's affordable when you're on a limited budget. It's not mainstream, and you'll likely never see yourself coming and going. Few people own and show Mustang IIs of any kind. There's lots of room for improvement, which means you can do a lot with these cars. These cars had sharp lines out of the box. What's more, you own a conversation piece that's sure to draw a crowd.
We like Bobby's personal nuances. Slotted, factory mag wheels were a nice Mustang II option. Stallion graphics over a creamy yellow finish take us back to high school and a different time. Matte-black appointments round out the visuals. Underhood, the 2.3L OHC four looks sharp in red, black and chrome.
When you sit behind the wheel of a Mustang II, it still feels good 25 years later. This is where Ford's quality engineering refinements stand out on the Mustang everyone loves to verbally abuse. The Mustang II was well made to start with. These humble, little ponies weren't just a rebodied Pinto, but a refined version of the Pinto/Bobcat platform. Their engines were isolated from the body with a rubber-mounted subframe Ford engineers affectionately called the toilet seat, due to its bottom-hugging shape. Pintos didn't have this feature. Heavy-duty suspensions that were well insulated made the Mustang II a handler. Pinto and Bobcat didn't get that either. Better suspension geometry made the Mustang II more fun to drive than its '65-'73 ancestors.
Inside, the Mustang II Stallion had full instrumentation, simulated woodgrain console, and even a digital clock. All of this was standard equipment. Those bucket seats were the most comfortable the Mustang had to date. Molded door panels with hand holds were another nice feature. These were standard, too.
We've got to hand it to Bobby Aldrich. He traveled a different path than most, and that's why his Mustang made our pages. It takes a lot of courage to march to the beat of a different drummer. When Bobby grabs the four-speed stick, eases out on the cable clutch, and heads down the road, he does it with his chin held high and the spirit of a stallion.