The thrill of stumbling upon a dusty classic car hidden away in a forgotten corner of a barn or warehouse is what fuels the passion of car restorers worldwide. In the world of automotive restoration, few projects capture the imagination quite like the resurrection of a vintage muscle car. In this blog post, we delve into the fascinating restoration journey of a 1978 Ford Mustang II King Cobra that’s been tucked away in a barn for 26 years.
The Era of the Decal-GT
The 1970s oil crisis profoundly impacted the American automotive landscape, giving rise to a new breed of cars known as “decal-GTs.” These subcompact cars mimicked the appearance of muscle cars but lacked the powerful performance associated with their iconic counterparts. The Ford Mustang II King Cobra is a prime example of this era, boasting a look that suggests power but delivers a modest 139 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque from its 302 cu-in V8 engine.
The Barn Find Discovery
Enter Dalton from the YouTube channel Pole Barn Garage, who stumbled upon a King Cobra barn find that had been dormant since 1997. With aspirations of breathing new life into this decal-GT, Dalton embarks on a budget restoration project that unveils a series of challenges.
Engine Woes and Unconventional Solutions
Upon closer inspection, Dalton discovers that the King Cobra’s engine is severely damaged, with rust causing a piston to jam in the cylinder head. Undeterred by the grim prognosis, Dalton employs creative and budget-friendly methods, including a concoction of acetone, naphtha, transmission fluid, and diesel, to attempt to revive the motor. Despite valiant efforts, the engine refuses to cooperate, leading Dalton to make the decision to find a replacement.
Budget Constraints and Resourcefulness
In true barn-find restoration fashion, Dalton sources another Ford Mustang II with a 302 cu-in V8 for parts. The budget-conscious project involves compromises, such as using silicone on replacement gaskets and salvaging parts from the donor car with oil residue and signs of wear. Nevertheless, Dalton presses on, fitting replacement brakes, a new water pump, a fuel pump, a starter motor, and an upgraded stage 1 clutch.
The Triumphs and Trials of Restoration
As the project progresses, Dalton makes significant headway, cleaning up the engine bay and interior and addressing wiring issues resulting from a previous fire and rodent infestation. The moment of truth arrives as the revitalized King Cobra roars to life after Dalton’s persistent efforts. The journey, however, is not without its hiccups, with leaks and engine noise prompting further adjustments.
While the resurrected King Cobra may not be destined for concourse shows, it has triumphantly returned to the road after nearly three decades of hibernation. Dalton and his girlfriend, Jessie, celebrate the success of their budget-friendly restoration, acknowledging the challenges they overcame to give this decal-GT a new lease of life. Ultimately, it’s not just about winning trophies but the joy of reviving a piece of automotive history and seeing it roar again down the road.