Ford Mustang Boss 302 - buyer & value guide

By: Cliff Chambers, Unique Cars magazine

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ford mustang boss 302 The Boss 302 is one of the better-looking cars to carry the Mustang name. ford mustang boss 302

One of the greats in the extensive Mustang catalogue.

The announcement in 1966 of a race series for modified production cars (the Trans-American Sedan Championship) sparked interest from European and US-based brands. Ford won the Over Two Litre title in 1966 and 1967 then in 1969 when expanding its Mustang range, included a model specifically designed to be eligible for these events.

With the capacity limit for Trans Am engines set at 5.0 litres, Ford’s 302 V8 was a perfect choice. However the competition engines shared little apart from cubic capacity with any you might have found in an F100 pickup or Aussie XT Falcon.

Tweaks to equip the Boss 302 for reliable racing included a crankshaft with four-bolt main bearings. Cylinder heads came from the bigger Cleveland 351 engine, there was improved manifolding and a choice of carburettors. Road cars used a 780cfm Holley four-barrel but race versions were permitted dual Holley Dominators.

Heavier valve springs, improved lubrication and roller rockers further enhanced reliability. Standard 302 Boss engines were limited to 6150rpm but race engines would rev much harder.

Visually the Boss made excellent use of Ford’s 1969 Mustang restyle. The wider, lower Fastback shape sat even lower than in Mach 1 guise, with its wheel-arches flared to accommodate wider wheels and fatter rubber.

Suspension design was typical Mustang but with heavier springs and the rear shock absorbers ‘staggered’ to minimise body movement. A hefty rear roll-bar from the 7.0-litre Boss 429 was optional.

During 1969, Boss 302 production totalled just 1628 cars. 1970 was a much better year for the 302-engined cars with more than 7000 sold, however it was overshadowed by a decline in overall Mustang sales.

1969 cars are distinguished by ‘C-Stripe’ decals down both flanks, headlamps in the mudguards, auxiliary lights in the grille and no scoop. Without options the 1969 Boss 302 cost $3655 which was around $700 less than a 351-engined Shelby GT350.

Inside the built-to-purpose Boss, comfort was kept to a minimum. The seats were skimpy and vinyl covered, the dash basic with an array of dials including a huge tachometer in front of the driver. Boss 429s in common with the Mach 1 came with a centre console but 302 customers just got a lumpy tunnel covered in cheap carpet.

MARKET REVIEW

Except for Allan Moffat’s very special and famous Boss, Australia didn’t see many of these Mustangs as new cars. That means most in our market are recent arrivals and won’t have had their authenticity compromised by a RHD conversion.

When buying a car that is to be regularly driven, which side the steering wheel sits on is less of an issue than when buying for investment. Given scarcity and demand for Boss 302s, these cars are certain to appreciate more strongly than most other Mustangs, so the best car you can afford is the one to buy. 1969 versions are scarce and a late 2017 auction saw an exceptional car sold for $150,000. Owning a Boss 302 won’t necessarily cost that much and $90-100,000 will buy a decent and usable car.

CHECKLISTS

BODY & CHASSIS

Even rare Mustangs like the Boss are going to rust unless carefully preserved and dried after exposure to rain or salt. Parts to repair quite severe corrosion to floors, inner mudguards and rear quarter sections are available. Labour costs will be way more significant than parts costs so a rust-free car is worth finding. Even if the panels look sound, look at chassis rails for kinks and welds in places they should not be and tyre edges for odd wear patterns. A strut tower brace wasn’t standard but fitting one is viable if the car is going to see some track use. New lights, bumpers and other chromed items are available and some bumpers cost less than A$250 plus freight.

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

Having a correct and preferably original engine is vital when spending the kind of money that a top- quality Boss 302 can command. Any kind of leak, smoke or deterioration in a car this scarce should ring lots of alarm bells and slash many thousands from the money you’re prepared to pay. Less obvious can be worn engine mounts (watch how far it moves when revved in neutral), overheating and difficulty re-starting when hot. As a matter of course check the oil and coolant for signs of contamination however these are very robust engines. 98 Octane Premium fuel is mandatory. The transmission may feel stubborn until the oil is warm. The clutch will likely be heavy but must not slip.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Unless you’re buying a very neglected Boss, expect the suspension to have some life left. How much to spend depends on how the car is to be used; $2000 for a basic rebuild to more than $5000 for ‘track day’ cars. The steering isn’t naturally sharp but a rebuilt steering box might be needed if there are clunks at low speed or play at the wheel rim. Standard front discs are beefy but still work hard and rotors may show wear or cracking. Wheel/tyre combinations that are too wide may be fouling wheel-arches, inner mudguards or the suspension.

INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

Vinyl trim fitted to Boss Mustangs is intended to be functional not flashy and that’s handy if you need to match a ripped or worn section without buying a full kit. Virtually everything to refurbish a Mustang interior is available new or as a reproduction. If a roll cage has been fitted at some point the hood- lining may show wear marks or have been replaced with incorrect material. Finding a new starter motor might be difficult if the US$400 being asked currently is any indication.

VITAL STATS - FORD MUSTANG BOSS 302

NUMBER MADE: 1628 (1969) 6318 (1970)

BODY STYLES: steel integrated body/chassis two-door coupe

ENGINE: 4942cc V8 with overhead valves & single downdraft carburettor

POWER & TORQUE: 219kW @ 5800rpm, 399Nm @ 4300rpm

PERFORMANCE: 0-96km/h 6.7 seconds, 0-400 metres 13.9 seconds

TRANSMISSION: four-speed manual

SUSPENSION: Independent with coil springs, upper & lower control arms, telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar (f) Live axle with semi-elliptic springs and telescopic shock absorbers (r)

BRAKES: disc (f) drum (r) power assisted

TYRES: F70x14 bias ply

 

VALUE RANGE - FORD MUSTANG BOSS 302

FAIR $60,000

GOOD $90,000

EXCELLENT $125,000

(Note: concours & special cars may demand more.)

Numbers from our 2017-18 Muscle Cars Value Guide.

Muscle Car Value Guide home page

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