Ford Mustang II II

We wouldn't blame you for double-checking your calendars, since it sure seems like the early '70s all over again. High fuel prices have every manufacturer clambering to produce more-fuel-efficient vehicles, effectively ending an era of unrestrained gas guzzling and transforming a raging horsepower war into more of a horsepower squabble. Heck, we've been thinking about breaking out the bell-bottoms and a vinyl copy of Who's Next to better get in the mood.

We're not the only ones, though, as Ford has reached into the back of its closet to drag out a pivotal piece of its '70s self: the Mustang II. The first Mustang II hit the streets for 1974 as a smaller, more-fuel-efficient follow-up to the bloated 1971-73 model. Instead of again supplanting the big-brother model, however, Ford will add this retro newcomer to the existing Mustang lineup and call it the Mustang II II.

Based on the chunky, funky economy-minded Focus coupe, the Mustang II II boasts all kinds of awesome 1970s visual cues, from the solid-disc wheel covers to the totally rad window slats covering all glass aft of the B-pillar. Door graphics, a blacked-out pony grille, and a nonfunctional hood scoop round out the exterior changes.

You won't find a six- or eight-cylinder engine under the hood, as the Mustang II II will join the Foal in utilizing a four-banger. Here, though, it's the Focus's 2.0-liter, which pumps out a semi-asthmatic 140 horsepower for that smog-choked 1970s antiperformance feel.

Ford Mustang Smokey and the Bandit Edition

We were incredibly disheartened when we heard that the most recent incarnation of Knight Rider -- a TV movie so bad you'll want to pour battery acid into your ears and eye sockets by the first commercial break -- would feature a K.I.T.T. based not on a Pontiac Trans Am but on a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR. (Of course, with no Trans Am in production, the producers had to find something else.)

It is with heavy hearts that we report another Trans Am transmogrification. Recent discussions of a Smokey and the Bandit remake have centered on having the new Bandit (said to be played by Jack Black) and his resplendent 'stache planted behind the wheel of a Mustang GT, albeit one with several Ford Racing upgrades. Those include a handling pack (new dampers, lowered springs, new anti-roll bars, and a strut-tower brace) and the Big Boost supercharger kit, which bumps the GT's 4.6-liter V-8 from 300 to 500 horsepower.

Ford plans, of course, to release a consumer version of the beast, and it will feature screaming chickens (licensed from GM, of course) on the hood, wheel centers, and C-pillar; snowflake rims; and a retro-style CB whip antenna, which won't be hooked to a CB but will instead provide signal for the standard Sirius satellite radio. The trunk, we hear, will be watertight to serve as a cooler, perfect for bootlegging delicious supplies of icy cold Coors.

We're expecting a price of about $50,000 when this moving monument to heresy rolls off the assembly line. With the rarest original late-'70s TAs closing in on $50 grand in pristine condition, this new model could almost be considered a bargain for fans who aren't snobbish about the badge on their car. Of course, we aren't such people. A Bandit Ford? Who would dream of such a thing?

Ford Mustang Mustang Edition

The new-generation Mustang II is aimed at economy-minded Mustang intenders, but Ford isn't stopping its fuel-efficiency train there. Indeed, what better way to save fuel than to use none at all? The Mustang Mustang is the most-fuel-efficient and practical Mustang ever: Instead of a gas-gulping engine, this ride comes with a team of horses to pull it around; all you need is a pile of oats and a few bales of hay, and you're on your way.

Four horses come standard, and the team can be upgraded to 10 -- the car gets GT10 badging -- with the tick of an option box, but you'll probably want to consider the cost of care before upgrading. It costs, at minimum, $4 per day to keep an average 1000-pound horse in food and medical care. Opt for the 10-horse team, and you're facing at least $14,600 annually, or about the same as your fuel costs if you use an M1 Abrams tank for grocery runs.

The good news, at least, is that this engineless Mustang will cost in the neighborhood of $15,000, before horses. After? Expect $35,000 with a team of four and $70,000 if you opt for 10. A planned Shelby GT12 version ups the horse count by two and will cost about $120,000. (Sound expensive? Hey, good horses cost a lot.)

Compared with conventional vehicles, this isn't better for your bottom line than pumping jus au dinosaur into your tank, so -- much like current gasoline-electric hybrids -- the choice to go with the Mustang Mustang will be primarily motivated by a desire to be a conspicuous environmentalist, plus a love of horses, of course.

There are some tangible benefits, too. With no engine, the engine compartment has been freed up to serve as a cargo hold, and Ford will offer a range of dividers so you can stash a combination of feed, water, manure, and luggage. Racks on the side will hold ropes and spare tack. And with your powertrain left to graze on your lawn, you'll be able to ditch your lawnmower, reducing your carbon footprint even further. Who says Mustang owners need to hate on the environment?

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Photos used with Special Permission from Car and Driver