1978 Ford Mustang: Ultimate In-Depth Guide

History, Specs, Options, Performance & More

1978 Mustang

1978 Ford Mustang

1978 Ford Mustang Overview

1978 was the last year for the Mustang II, along with the Mach 1. Like some other Fords between ’78 and ’82, the Mustang was being re-designed for ’79 with an all-new look for the dawn of the ’80’s. For the 1978 model year, the Mustang II line-up included both the Cobra II and a new King Cobra model offering an even more aggressive package of equipment. In its final year of production, 192,410 Mustang II’s were built.

Model: 1978 Ford Mustang
Generation: 2nd Generation Mustang
Type: 2 Door
Body Styles: Coupe, Fastback
Engines: 140ci 2V 4 cyl, 171ci 2V V6, 302ci 2V V8
Original Price: $3,824 (Basic Coupe), $4,088 (Fastback)
Units Produced: 192,410

Additional 1978 Mustang Research: 1978 Research Center / Colors Details / Production Numbers / Prices & Options / Sales Brochures / Owner Manuals / Maintenance / Pictures / Videos / VIN Decoder / Special Editions

Background & Details

The 1978 Mustangs were to be the last of the Mustang II breed. The most notable changes to all Mustang II models in 1978 was several new two-tone paint colors, and two seperate rear-seat cushions, instead of a single cushion with an attached padded hump in the middle. Seven new colors were also added for 1978.

New variable-ratio power steering was available, along with a Fashion Accessory Package for the coupe. Designed to appeal to women, it included cloth “Fresno” seat inserts, driver’s side illuminated sun visor mirror, a four-way adjustable driver’s seat, coin tray, map pockets, pockets in the door panels and pin stripes.

Performance wise, the 302 engine still dominated the Mustang II scene. It did come in two versions though.  A 2 bbl carburetor and a variable venturi design shipped to California. The based 2.3 liter inline 4 cylinder and the 2.8 liter V6 also continued to be offered without any major changes.

Special Edition Models & Variants

The Mustang II variants were mostly carryover, since this was to be the final year for the Mustang II. Special models included the return of the sporty upscale Ghia and the Mach 1, continuing to remember the heydays of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, for those craving more excitement (in the looks department at least). The 1978 Mustang Cobra returned virtually unchanged, but a new “King Cobra” made its first appearance in the Ford Mustang corral, sporting a bold Cobra snake mural on its hood and was available only with the V8 to help bolster the car’s performance image.

Note: On some other sites we have seen mention of the Munroe Mustang Handler as a special edition Mustang. It is not an official car so it doesn’t make our list below.

1978 ford mustang ghia


The 1978 Ghia luxury group included the half vinyl top, bodyside color keyed body side moldings, bumper guards, wheel covers, and a luxury interior. The 1978 Ghia upgrade did not include one of the more powerful 1978 Mustang engines. The Ghia emblem is just visible behind the rear quarter side window.

Learn more about the 1978 Ford Mustang Ghia

1978 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Mach 1

This was also the last year of the Mach 1 model, relegated to history once the third generation Mustang launched the following year. The 1978 Mustang Mach 1 got the 104hp 170ci (2.8L) 2-barrel 6-cylinder engine, custom styled wheels with raised white lettered tires, front and back black rear bumpers, lower black body side paint for a cool two-level look, brushed aluminum instrument dash panel, and full instruments package.

Learn more about the 1978 Ford Mustang Mach 1

1978 Ford Mustang Cobra II

Cobra II

The 1978 Mustang Cobra II continued to be a sheep in wolves clothing. The Cobra II’s graphics got louder in 1978, with “Cobra” in large letters on the door. The Cobra’s standard engine was the 2.3L four-cylinder, but more popular choices were the 2.8L V6 or 5.0L V8. It looked great but had no poke. When Ford introduced the Cobra II for the ’76 model year, it emulated the look, if not the performance, of a Shelby GT 350. The whole objective was to make the Mustang look sporty even though its performance was pretty paltry.

Learn more about the 1978 Ford Mustang Cobra II

1978 ford mustang king cobra

King Cobra

New to 1978, was the King Cobra option at $1277. The extreme ‘King Cobra’ version was introduced in 1978 and featured some snazzy graphics along with a hood scoop turned backward. It was a package consisting entirely of cosmetic upgrades, with the same 5.0L V8 found in the standard Mustang II, and no true performance improvements to speak of. The King Cobra having the 302 V8, power steering and handling suspension with 70-series radial tires did somewhat make it more sporty than the rest of the range (it is all relative of course). Other features included in this one-year-only package, priced at $1,253, were a Targa band, wide hood decal and more aggressive chin spoiler. With fun fender flares, custom paint and graphics, and this re-designed front body kit it definitely looked the goods. This was a limited edition version with 4,313 units produced.

Learn more about the 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra

Specifications, Options & Detailed Stats

Production Numbers

The 1978 Mustangs were to be the last of the Mustang II breed. The Mustang II saw a send off similar to the first generation Mustang, with a nice bump on sales units. 1978 saw the Mustang sell 192,410 units. To dive into the model and body splits as well as see charts and percentages, check out our 1978 Ford Mustang Production & Sales Numbers deep dive.

Options and Pricing

For more detailed options and pricing, please check out our 1978 pricing and options research.

Exterior & Interior Colors

Seven new colors were also added for the 1978 Mustang model year. For detailed colors, color palettes, codes and interior colors please check out our in depth 1978 colors information post.

Dimensions & Weight

Body changes for 1978 included cosmetic changes only so the size and weight of the car basically remained the same as the prior year model.

Engine Specs

The engine choices remained the same for the 1978 Mustang. Although the King Cobra was heavily advertised as the performance king, it still was available with all of the engine choices, which were, the 2.3 liter inline 4 cylinder, the 2.8 liter V6 and the 5.0 Liter (302 cubic inch ) V8. For more information on engines for 1978, you can find the information here.


Below is the performance data for the 1978 Mustangs that we could find. We have included 0-60 mph times, 0-100 mph times as well as quarter mile times and top speed where available. You can see that the Mustang II continued to be a crappy performance car in terms of its acceleration times but the King Cobra went some way to making Mustang performance relevant again.

VIN Information

Vin Decoder Mustang 1978

This link will take you to a page which contains the VIN tag information for all years of Mustangs. Previously this information appeared on each Mustang’s year page, but consolidating it has significantly reduced page loading times. To decode the build sheet, check out our 1978 VIN & Data Plate Decoder sheet.

Videos & Picture Galleries

We managed to find some great video reviews of the 1978 Mustang so definitely check those out. We also have a picture 1978 Ford Mustang Picture Gallery and photos of real Mustangs in each color that was available.