By on December 18, 2011

The Index of Effluency, LeMons racing’s top prize, gets handed to the team that accomplishes a lap total far beyond what any sane person would have imagined possible for such a terrible, terrible car. Sometimes that means getting 10th overall in a Toyota Tercel EZ, and other times it means taking 36th out of 57 entries in a 1977 Ford Mustang II. Macaroni Racing, in their Cologne V6-powered “big Pinto,” managed the latter achievement at the Heaps In The Heart of Texas 24 Hours of LeMons today.
158 laps on the 2.5-mile-long Eagles Canyon Raceway track is 395 miles. Imagine taking your grandmother’s basket-case Mustang II and beating the crap out of it at full throttle for the entirety of a 395-mile road trip on twisty, hilly roads (say, San Francisco to Los Angeles on the Coast Highway), while getting passed every few seconds by buzzing, angry swarms of BMW E30s, Mazda Miatas, and Ford Taurus SHOs. Would you expect your Mustang II to be in one piece at the end?
No, you wouldn’t. This brings Ford’s Index of Effluency trophy count for the now-completed 2011 LeMons season to four; behind Chrysler (with 4¼ IOE wins) and GM (with seven wins). Congratulations, Macaroni Racing!

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24 Comments on “And the Real Winner Is…...”

  • avatar

    I carpooled with a guy who had a similar M-II, well, same color anyway. One day it stalled on the road because the primary lead fell off the ignition coil. A simple nut and lock washer was the usual solution in most cars, but Ford’s “Better Idea” was a push-on connector that worked loose after only a few months of ordinary driving. My fifty-cent solution at the time was to pinch the connector between two quarters and jam it back on the post. Off we went. Quality was Job 1/10000… Apparently.

  • avatar

    Makes you wonder WHY Ford stopped making the Mustang II !!!
    They looked cool too!!
    They did rattle a lot!!
    But racing it was never, ever a consideration even with LeMons.

  • avatar

    Ok, I have to ask. Is this car truly as stock as it is proclaimed to be? The hand me down daily driver that used to be someone’s grandmothers? And it actually finished the race? Other than the required mods to make it legal for the race what else was done?

    • 0 avatar

      As the team captain of Macaroni Racing, I can assure you that the car was bone stock. Other than the rollcage and other Lemons required modifications, we didn’t do anything that would be an upgrade. We rebuilt the brakes (ended up with manual brakes since the booster was shot), replaced the water pump, replaced the points, ignition coil, spark plug wires, changed the oil/filter, and clean up the carb. I don’t know was bothered my more- the lazy boy soft suspension that made me feel like I was going to end up on my roof or the fact that a Fiat Brava could out accelerate us.

      BTW, the color that everyone admires is Ford Tractor Blue enamel.

    • 0 avatar

      Totally stock. A roll cage was put in, and new tires and a battery, and brake pads. It had sat for 12 or 13 years, and the engine was ran for about 10 minutes before the race. It had a progressively nastier knock in the engine, which we think was a lifter, and top speed was a little over 60 mph. Downhill. With the wind at our back. Drafting the faster cars (which was anyone that was unbroke).

      It has an automatic transmission, which we began manually shifting between 2 and D in an effort to gain power and acceleration.

      Consensus among us drivers was, it only made it noisier. And a (pardon the expression) high-speed miss in the engine that only got worse.

  • avatar

    I must admit to a certain fondness for the Mustang II, particularly for the fastback design, however. Any engine: 2.3/4, 2.8/6, or 302/8 – they’re all OK with me. It’s probably because I was a 3-time Pinto/Bobcat owner.

    There, I said it.

    • 0 avatar

      Fastback looked pretty good, coupe looked strange from almost any angle, or maybe just in these pics.

      3-time? Wow, did you have somebody giving them to you?

      • 0 avatar

        “Wow, did you have somebody giving them to you?”

        Actually, a friend of the family (a little old lady) gave me the 1980 Bobcat for $1. It turned out to be the most expensive car I’ve ever owned, per mile.

        My 71 and 76 were pretty good, and the Mustang II is most like the 76, of course. The 71 was my first car, so I bought it out of high school poverty. :)

    • 0 avatar

      A friend had one in black and gold with a 289 he built up himself. In a straight line.

      Funny story about the time he came down to get his lunch from his car and found someone trying to steal his mags…

  • avatar

    I just want to know what those tires are. I can’t be impressed by the distance total. I’ve driven worse cars further in 7 hours. I’ve driven a much worse car 350 miles in 9 hours including a several hour stop in a brake shop full of pot heads who couldn’t figure out their mistakes when they were visible from passing cars. Assuming this race was green for a meaningful percentage of 16 hours, I’m having a hard time perceiving the achievement here.

    • 0 avatar

      Its really not the same thing. When you did 350 miles in 9 hours you were likely driving on freeways of fast country roads where you got the car up to 75mph and left it there. Having just raced a pretty stock Fairmont in Lemons I can attest that we just managed to hit that speed at the end of the longest straight. Most of the time on a road course you are going from 30-60 and back down again, over and over and over. Then you need to stop for gas and driver changes, just like a road trip, and with the Lemons fueling rules we never managed to get in and out in less than 15 minutes with a fuel stop.

  • avatar

    This Mustang II looks very stock. Skinny tires, suspension with no rear sway bar, suspension with full spring height, super slushbox and a whooping 103 horsepower smog-choked V6.

    Ford had the right combination of parts to make the Mustang II more European in nature, but they did not follow through.
    My wifes 79 Pinto can really handle with a few simple mods. I love the manual disc brakes!

    Heck, even today they still use the front end design to build hotrods. This design is not only used for straight line racing.

    Here is basically a Mustang II front end adapted for a Volvo 1800.
    I ordered one for my 73 Volvo 1800 ES! Oh yeah! It should scoot with a 2012 Mustang V6 drivetrain in 2014!

  • avatar

    Having been with the Greater Mustang Club of KC for five years now, I can tell you that you don’t really see these much anymore. If any were kept in running condition, they were the fast backs and almost always with the 302. Fully restored? Only the Cobras with the Firebird-esque hissing serpent rearing on the hood.

    On the rare occasions that a ‘II’ showed up most in the club did their best to not be patronizing and a parking space was made available. As long as it wasn’t parked to close to one of ours of course.

    • 0 avatar

      I saw one of the II Cobras on the street once while in my 85′ 300zx turbo (with a failing auto trans). Having never even known they existed, I wanted to see what it could do. I challenged him to a little race as a joke, expecting to get womped on. Instead, I beat him by 2 car lengths and was totally confused.

  • avatar

    Kudos to the designers whose foresight likely ensured a minimal amount of events wherein the assembly-line mob installed the grille upside down.

  • avatar

    Here’s a one family, original condition (well, except for the traction bars) Mustang II Ghia.

    People like to make fun of the Mustang II but Ford sold more Mustang IIs in its first year than it sold ’66 Mustangs.

  • avatar

    More Mustang IIs that Marty Densch spotted at the Woodward Dream Cruise.

  • avatar

    I always thought it was a little odd how some enthusiasts sneer at the Pinto-based Mustang II when the original Mustang was based on the lowly Falcon. For the times (i.e., gas mileage was paramount), basing the 1974 Mustang II on the Pinto was really a no-brainer. As pointed out by others, Mustang II sales were quite good (initially, anyway).

    One wonders if things would have really been that much different if the 1974 Mustang had been based on, say, the Maverick platform, instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Mustang II got a substantially better front end than Pinto. Mustang II was less a Pinto than the ’65 Mustang was a Falcon.

      Maverick platform was considered early on but rejected.

    • 0 avatar

      A fair point considering the ’95 I drive was build around the ’79 Fairmont frame. It even has the last 302 under the hood, an engine in use since ’68. That archaic frame went on until the last of the New Edge Stangs in ’04.

      That being said, its hard for most folks to remember that the Mustang’s original purpose in life was not for the muscle crowd. It was for the secretary, who wanted something flash but didn’t have a lot of money. Mustang’s ever since have followed this simple principle of hot looks with near-entry level pricing on the base models.

  • avatar
    Blue coyote

    Only one problem here. Oiram1970, you said you put in new points (among other things), although the Mustang II V6 used the Duraspark ignition from 75 on.

    BTW, with the 2.8 V6, if it had been in better shape than a decade of sitting left it, manually shifting it WOULD have made a great difference in performance. The automatic transmission (whether it had the C4 or the weaker C3) even at wide open throttle will shift long before the stock spec torque peak of 4600 RPM. Oh, and the knock probably as the lifters. Being solid lifters, chances are that they were not adjusted, and/or started backing off, which can really mess with compression and thus performance.

    I personally own a black on black T-top King Cobra as well as a 74 V6 Ghia with considerably more than the stock HP…in fact, almost double what a stock V8 Mustang II left the assembly line with {225 hp and 8k redline}

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