Fans of Guardians of the Galaxy finally got to meet Peter Quill’s/Star Lord’s Dad in the form of Ego played by Kurt Russell. In a nearly perfect introduction in flashback form a de-aged Russell is driving a bad ass car with Peter’s mom singing in the passenger seat. Ego’s choice of car is extremely appropriate. He’s a cool guy with long hair, a leather jacket, and a flashy muscle car. That car, the Ford Mustang II King Cobra, has an interesting history and may just reflect upon Ego himself.
Back in the 70s America was in a slump and in the midst of an oil shortage. There were new government rules on emissions and insurance rates were going up for fans of muscle cars. During the previous few years muscle cars kept getting larger and larger, in particular the Mustang had become huge compared to it’s 1960s version. Due to the changing world the 1973 Mustang was the last big Mustang for awhile.
Cars needed to shrink down. Ford introduced the Mustang II. Not only did the overall size of the car change, but it’s engine got a lot smaller too. Previously the Mustang was available in V6 and V8 options, but now there was a rather anemic 4 cylinder under the hood with no big V8 option. The biggest engine available was a V6. The Mustang now looked like this:
There was some hope for cool guys like Ego starting in 1975 when they brought back a V8 option, but sadly it only put out a meager 174 hp. Compare that to the 67 Mustang’s smallest V8 that put out 200 hp and the Mustang still wasn’t back on top. Things took another upswing in 1976 when the Cobra Mustang II debuted, bringing back the appearances to make it look like a Mustang of old. Most notable about it was the hood scoop thats pointed in the wrong direction, the rear window louvers, and some stripes.
It wasn’t until 1978 that Ego’s limited edition King Cobra II appeared with a larger V8 engine that was standard. Oh and this one was fully decked out with the super cool T tops option, perfect for a young Egos flowing locks. The King Cobra II also featured a giant Cobra symbol on the hood, aping the famous Trans-Am hood. The V8 in the King Cobra II put out 139 hp… again it wasn’t busting any records for power held by the first generation of muscle cars.
That brings us back to Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The King Cobra Mustang II is pretty much the perfect car for Ego. He appeared to be a cool guy on the surface, but on the inside he wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. From the underpowered V8 to the backwards hood scoop, to the cribbing of the Trans Am hood, there’s just a little something off with both Ego and the King Cobra II.
The Ford Mustang II King Cobra did everything it could to bring back the Mustang legacy and try as it might it sort of did, but it just wasn’t the total package. I can imagine Ego showing up on Earth, going to a used car lot, seeing the King Cobra and saying “this is perfect” because it matched both his style and his substance.
It’s hard to imagine that the choice of car was a coincidence by James Gunn and crew. Usually when there’s a cool dude in a movie or TV show (especially in flashback) he’s driving a classic muscle car like a 67 Mustang or Camero. The go to option for the late 70s was the Trans-Am (see Smokey and the Bandit). They could have even gone Corvette (side note: the 1980s vettes seem like the choice for characters who are A-holes). The choice of the limited edition King Cobra seems very deliberate, since it was a time where “fast” muscle cars weren’t up to par to their first generation versions, but were trying hard to look like them.
In fact, if you go a step further and think about Peter’s ideal dad, Micheal Knight of Knight Rider along with his car KITT, you can see the dichotomy between the two fathers and their chosen vehicles. One drives a car that looked cool that lacked substance (Ego), while the ideal father drove the really awesome car which was mired in fantasy with its computer brain and crazy gadgets. While Peter never met his father, one could assume that his mother told him stories about him, including what he looked like and his cool car. It could easy to see how Peter would transfer the version of his father that his mother gave him onto Micheal Knight of Knight Rider. But, like the fantasy dad Micheal Knight, Peter’s real father was simply fantasy.