"I was a Mustanger when Mustang wasn't cool," 78-year-old Marcella Knight tells us. "I bought my first one in 1965. And when I was going to trade it in for the '74, they offered me $100 for it. So I told the salesman, 'It's never been abused.'
"He said, 'It's just an old car.'
'I've got to get more than that for it.'
'It was a cheap car to begin with.'
'We probably won't even put it on the lot. We'll just take it to the auction.'
"So, as he wrote up the ticket, I said, 'Well, I'm going to take the '74, but don't subtract $100 from the bill because I'm not going to give you my car for that.'
So began Marcella's cool Mustang collection. She did keep the '65, a Phoenician Yellow coupe. And she bought the '74, the white one seen here, which still looks brand new with fewer than 45,000 miles.
It's definitely a sight for sore eyes. When do you ever see a '74 Mustang II, especially a basic coupe? The answer is, almost never. Nobody saved or collected them. The 88hp 2.3L four was standard, and there wasn't even a V-8 option. The one step up was the 2.8L V-6, rated at 105 hp.
Marcella stands up for her "II," which is like a time capsule. "I just like it. I think it's a prettier body style than the '65. And it's a good little car. It does everything I want it to do. I mean, I don't need a car that goes 180 miles per hour, because you get tickets if you go too fast."
When the '79 Mustangs went on sale, Marcella bought one, more for tradition than urge. "It looked like a European car, and I didn't like it. But I bought one because I try to get a new Mustang when they change body styles."
She also bought a '94, a loaded convertible, to represent the first of the SN-95s. "I thought, Well it's probably going to be my last one, because I doubt I'll live long enough to buy another one. So I got everything on it, and I got a convertible. I thought, That's the dumbest thing I ever did, because I never leave the house without a dog or a cat in the car with me, and you don't need a convertible if you carry a dog or a cat."
Marcella stays part of the year in a house in Peoria, Illinois, and the rest of the year she lives on the farm where she was born in nearby Edelstein. "I'm from the farm, so I have lots of sheds," Marcella says. "I never let the Mustang II sit outside and I never drove it on bad days. I still don't, none of my Mustangs. I have the '94, but I put it away for the winter and drive my truck."
At the 40th Anniversary Celebration in Nashville, Marcella walked away with a Gold Award for her '74 Mustang II. All she did was clean and detail the car. She's well schooled in the art of collecting, going back to the '70s when the Model T and Model A were "cool" and the Mustang II was a new car.
And she's already ordered a brand-new '05.