The Mustang II Network: Giving the Duece Respect
by Jeff Bauer
If there's one word that best describes the 1974-78 Mustang II, it's "misunderstood." While many enthusiasts overlook the Mustang II, and some even look at the breed with a certain amount of contempt, the facts tell a different story: three of the 10 best-selling Mustangs are Mustang IIs, with the most popular model (1974) selling almost 300,000 units.
The model's perceived lack of performance is based on the standard 2.3-liter, four cylinder engine, the weakest engine in any Mustang. But, except for the '74s, all Mustang IIs had an available 5-liter V-8 - the same engine used in the early Fox-body Stangs - and base models all weighed less than 3,000 pounds, making them the lightest Mustangs to date. The platform's lack of shock towers makes it relatively painless to drop in other engines. As for the belief that nobody loves the Mustang IIs, the platform does, in fact, have a loyal and active following of thousands of owners who are into owning, restoring, modifying, or driving these forgotten Mustangs.
So what's a Mustang II lover to do to straighten out these perceptions? Well, if you're Timothy Grahl, you arm yourself with all of the information you can find on these important pieces of Mustang history and you assemble a massive, technically oriented Web site that lets people see the true story of the Mustang II. On the Welcome Center of his Mustang II Network (www.mustangii.net), Grahl writes, "Here you will find all of the information you could possibly want to know about the Mustang II," and after even a brief look around his site, you can be sure he's telling the truth.
"I guess you fall in love with your first car," Grahl said in explaining his affinity for the model. His first was a '77 Mustang II he purchased in 1985. Since then he's owned eight Mustang IIs, including his current one a '77 Cobra II, which is featured at http://cobraii.mustangii.net/. He launched Mustang II Network in August 1999, after not being able to find much in the way of Mustang II sites. Rather than just rely on other people's information to flesh out his site, Grahl did extensive research of his own, starting at the Henry Ford Museum and the Ford archives. "I have more than 20 boxes of paperwork and other information on the Mustang II from my research," Grahl said. "It would take me years to add this information to the site, but I add a little at a time."
There's so much here it's difficult to choose where to begin. The Welcome Center is a good bet, particularly the Common Questions and Answers page. The head over to the Tech Center and follow the links for the History & Tech Documents for each model year. For each year, you'll find the model's statistics (specifications), price guide, option list, exterior colors, interior trim, transmission codes, and Motor Vehicle Manufacturer Association (MVMA) specs. "You'd be hard pressed to find some of the MVMA specs for other Mustangs anywhere on the Net," Grahl said. "MVMAs containg highly detailed information that previously was not released to the general public."
The Tech Center also contains VIN and Door Tag Decoders, FAQs and Installation Guides, Calculators, and a Reference Charts section that includes parts-identification sheets, illustrations of the various wheels and wheel covers, production and sales totals, and much more. A miscellaneous documents subsection offers magazine and newspaper articles, a price guide, and links to a handful of Mustang II project cars.
Because finding parts for Mustang IIs can be extremely challenging, this site has an entire subsection devoted to the subject. A searchable database of Ford obsolete parts allow you to look for parts by part number, description, category and/or model year. This section also contains links to aftermarket companies who specialize in Mustang IIs, as well as larger companies that offer Mustang II parts.
The Mustang II Network is the official Mustang II registry of the Mustang Club of America. The Registry section includes an online registration form, a searchable database of registered cars and a list of registered owners. A Quick Statistics page gives current totals sorted by year and model, model and engine, model and condition, model and assembly plant and country. As of mid July, the registry contained 2,278 cars and 1,760 owners representing more than 40 countries.
Most Mustang site feature photos of the cars they're dedicated to, but few offer the 1,000-plus images available here. The Photo Gallery section offers photos of visitor's cars, merchandise, Funny Cars, shows and events, and much more. Here you'll also find press releases and promotional photos, and photos and drawings of prototype Mustang IIs. Owners looking to restore their cars will find the factory correct/OEM photos of Mustang II engine bays, interiors and stripes/decals to be extremely useful. The section also offers scans of advertisements, magazine covers, owners and repair manuals, sales brochures, artwork, invoices, decals, and paperwork.
The Mustang II Network boasts of more than 800 pages, so the features described here are only a few highlights. This site also has a multimedia section with video clips, game files, wallpaper, and animated cursor; a Message Board with a dozen forums; chat; a merchandise section with Mustang II Network items, as well as stuff from other vendors; Classifieds; a mailing list; free Web-based e-mail; free Web pages hosted on the Mustang II Network; a downloaded Pocket PC version of the site and plenty more.
"I was told by a Ford executive once that I have more on the Mustang II than they do," Grahl said. "Even from a size standpoint, the Mustang II Network is larger than most, if not all, other Mustang sites on the Internet."
It's easy to see that this site - and the Mustang that inspired it - will soon have an equally sizeable following.