1974 Mustang Mach 1
If you don't follow Car and Driver on the inter webs, twitter or the Facebook, you might want to. Every once in a while the post up a gem like the article below. I have stated before the Mustang has gone through dark times, where maybe the design, or performance was "less than" what we think a mustang should be, and i'm gonna say the '74 Mustang Mach1 was one of those. Horrible handling, hideous interior, and 0-60 in forever. Read the article for more!
1974 Ford Mustang II Mach I
Ford's new "sporty" compact has about as much technical relationship with its most immediate predecessors as it does with a Sheridan Shillelagh.
From the September 1973 Issue of Car and Driver
A decade ago, after over a year of promotion earning it the title of "the worst kept secret in Detroit's history," the Ford Motor Company publicly announced the Mustang with an extravagant introduction at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Standing proudly by "The House of Good Taste" and the Population Clock with its blinking display of ever larger numbers recording the world's move toward total urbanity, was a flotilla of cars intended to be sold to a segment of the population Ford identified as the Youth Market. Those convertible and hardtop Mustangs had a projected first year sales goal of a quarter of a million cars, Ford PR men announced with evident trepidation. Their trepidation was founded on the fact that no one in Detroit had ever made an economic success of a sportily-styled car—particularly a car that had been built up out of existing components (in the Mustang's case, most of the chassis came from the boxy Falcon compact). Nor had any car maker ever had much good to say about the idea of courting anything but a middle class and up market. In fact, Plymouth had tried much the same thing as the Mustang months earlier with its glassback Barracuda (a rebodied Valiant compact) and was meeting with near total customer apathy. But even the sceptics wouldn't deliver a blanket death warrant on the car simply because it wasn't a Mustang. By means of a then-unique marketing ploy, made possible by relatively new production line technology, the Mustang could be just about anything to anybody via an ape arm-long list of options. They weren't just trim options, but whole running gear and suspension packages. Everything from a 101-hp Six with a 3-speed manual transmission up to a high performance 289 with a 4-speed could be found on the options list.
By the end of that first sales year—the same year in which Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize, Sonny Liston ended his reign as heavyweight champion by sitting on a stool in Miami, Nikita Krushchev was ousted as Premier of the USSR, Lyndon Johnson decided to bomb North Viet Nam in retaliation for the shelling of American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin and Studebaker was gasping its last to stay in the automotive business—the Mustang not only reached its sales goal, but almost doubled it by selling nearly 420,000 cars. By the end of the year a General Manager at one GM division summed up the impact of the Mustang and at the same time predicted what the next few years would bring when he paraphrased Lincoln by saying, "You can sell a young car to a young man, and a young car to an old man, but you can't sell an old car to anybody!"
He was right, and within five years GM had created two Mustang-like models for its top selling Chevrolet (Camaro) and Pontiac (Firebird) divisions, Chrysler did the same for Plymouth with a new Barracuda and Dodge (with the Challenger) and even American Motors got into the act with its Javelin and AMX. Ford had read and believed its own Mustang advertising stressing "total performance" and had begun a $17-million effort to win LeMans, building engines for Indy cars and fuel dragsters, and had set up a lightly disguised limited-production line for race cars under Carroll Shelby (and a race shop of its own called Car Craft). It was a time of wild automotive excitement—and excesses—that was easily able to withstand the first tentative forays of the safety crusaders, the ecology freaks and even the government. The Youth Market not only financed the project but seemed to transmit its exuberance back to the manufacturers in a sort of self-expanding, closed-loop system.
A decade has passed, however, and in those ten years many of the newsmakers of 1964 have died. The Mustang now joins that list. In the end, the combined assault of rising insurance rates, inflation, safety and emission standards, the threat of an energy crisis and a market glut of Mustang-like cars have effectively put a bullet into the Mustang's head. Yet had Ford remained true to the original Mustang concept, a reasonably-priced, reasonably-sized 2+2 vehicle that could be interpreted, on an international scale, as a very much Americanized GT car, the Mustang might still be alive and healthy. Instead, in its most recent editions, the Mustang had become little more than an intermediate sedan styled in the most impractical—close to outrageously unusable—manner.
So now Ford is starting over with the Mustang II. A car totally different from the Mustang in terms of hardware, but identical in concept. A sporty car aimed at the Youth Market . . . but based on a smaller scale than even the original Mustang in order to meet contemporary realities. In size, the Mustang II is almost dainty in comparison to what has been wearing that nameplate of late. It's definitely not a mutant intermediate but a true sporty sub-compact. Its visual relationship with the Pinto is unmistakable (which is, for all intents and purposes, Ford's current equivalent to the Falcon). The Mustang II's wheelbase is just over two inches longer than the Pinto's (96.2 inches) with an overall body length six inches longer (175.0 inches). What, in fact, the new Mustang gives the impression of being is a domestically-built version of Ford's sister division's Mercury Capri—that the Capri has become the second largest selling import in the U.S. can hardly be taken as a coincidence, either.
Underneath the sheetmetal, the Mustang II bears less shared relationship with the Pinto than its appearance indicates. Brakes, steering gear, rear axle and a portion of the floor pan are the only major components which are current Pinto parts. The Mustang II's base engine is a new 2.3-liter (140.5 cubic inch) overhead cam Four, built here in the U.S.—using metric measurements throughout (this engine will also be available in Pintos). The Mustang's optional V-6 engine, however, is unavailable in a Pinto but is not exclusive to the new car. It is a bigger displacement (2.8 as opposed to 2.6-liter) version of the German-built Capri V-6 which has been sold in America for two years.
But while the Mustang II shares some standard components with the Pinto, it is not just another version of that economy sedan—no more than the original Mustang was simply a Falcon. It has been built with the specific intention of coming into the market as a Super Coupe and, in terms of "feel," it's a success. As opposed to the sterile practicality and cost-trimming measures so dispassionately evident in American-made economy cars up to this time, the Mustang II in no way seems to be a cheap car.
The pre-production version we tested was the "top performance" Mach I version, equipped with the V-6 engine and competition suspension (along with enough other options to make the car's order form look like a target for a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with ink pellets.