Barn Find ’78 Ford Mustang King Cobra was the Best of the Dark Days
If you’re a fan of fast Ford Mustangs and oodles of horsepower, you likely don’t look upon the 1970s very fondly. In response to tightening emissions regulation, oil shortages, and calls for a smaller, sportier Mustang (the pony car had grown egregiously bulky), Ford axed the original ‘Stang in favor of the Mustang II. Crucially, it delivered in efficiency, size, and became a big sales success, however, it did little for performance fans. They weren’t exactly quick, especially in 1974 when a V8 wasn't even offered. No, diehard Ford fans don’t care much for the ’74 to ’78 Ford Mustang II’s, but if there is one to celebrate it is most certainly this one—the 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra. This particular King Cobra “barn find” recently turned up for sale online, and if its mileage is correct, it could be quite the rarity. More on that in a minute.
Though Ford was certainly selling plenty of Mustang IIs, the pony car desperately needed a re-injection of performance, or at least the guise of it. In 1975, a V8 returned (offering upwards of 139 hp), and in 1976 a properly shouty appearance package did too—the Cobra II, which rekindled Shelby-esque looks despite availability on four- and six-cylinder Mustangs as well.
It was a good start for the once-outrageous pony car, but Ford could do a little better, and in 1978 they did. The King Cobra package launched that year and only for V8 Mustangs. It brought to the table racy looks—a large front air dam, pin striping, a reverse hood scoop (non-functional), black trim, and an unmistakable snake hood decal—as well as functional performance, including power steering, power-front disc brakes, plus a Rallye package with adjustable shocks and a rear stabilizer bar.
Interestingly, the King Cobras were the first Ford Mustangs to wear the distinctive “5.0” badge, scrawled on the hood scoop. However with a price of $6,350, these 1978-only pony cars weren’t exactly cheap, and today they’re rather rare. Just 4,313 King Cobras are said to have been sold.
RELATED: Gas Monkey Garage's 800-HP Ford GT is for Sale
What makes this one particularly interesting is its story. According to its listing, this ’78 Ford Mustang King Cobra is said to have spent the last three decades in storage, and today it shows an alleged 21,000 miles. While that certainly merits investigation given its forlorn body, as Barnfinds notes, the interior does appear to be in a rather exemplary nick.
Of course, there are more pedigreed, faster, more powerful, and arguably better-looking Mustangs than the ’78 King Cobra, but these do have a unique flair to them, and I’d reckon that it’s getting better with age.
RELATED: The Ford GT Completes its Fairytale 2016 Le Mans Win