It is often thought the second generation Mustang — the Mustang II, produced from 1974 to 1978 — represents a dark time in the iconic brand’s history. While the Mustang II did re-imagine the classic pony car as something smaller and more fuel-efficient, those in the know will tell you it wasn’t all austerity. By 1975, a V8 was again available, and drivers began to take the car a little more seriously as something that could be modified for success on the track.
The Original Monroe Handler
This evolution led to the release of the Monroe Handler Mustang in 1977. Built by Monroe Shocks and Hot Rod magazine, the original Monroe Handler was, as the name implies, built to showcase Monroe’s new Handler line of shocks. The building of the Monroe Handler was chronicled in Hot Rod’s June, July and August issues. A one-off production based on the Mustang II, the Monroe Handler had a number of significant improvements, including a Roush-tuned 363ci engine producing 400 horses and a modified suspension. The car also featured an upgraded exterior with steel IMSA-style fenders and other enhancements by Creative Car Craft.
The Fiberglass Monroe Handler
The original steel Monroe Handler attracted a lot of attention and, a year later, Creative Car Craft produced six more units. Outfitted with a fiberglass body kit instead of steel, this new crop of Monroe Handlers were given away as part of a contest jointly hosted by Monroe, BF Goodrich, Centerline, Ford, Motorola, Revell and Roush. According to an unsubstantiated rumor, a seventh car was built specially for a prominent southern politician.
The Monroe Handler Body Kit
For $1,250, Mustang II owners who wanted to recreate the look of the Monroe Handler Mustang could do so with an eight-piece fiberglass body kit by Creative Car Craft. The kit, designed by Dave Kent, included both front and rear fenders, a front air dam, rear spoiler and rear body panel. Although as few as 30 kits were produced, every so often one will show up for sale, attracting a lot of interest from Mustang II aficionados.