Ford Mustang Boss 302 - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers

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ford mustang boss ford mustang boss

One of the Mustang's most popular racer for the road models. Rare to find, and can be costly to own, but are highly sought after

 

Ford Mustang Boss 302

For most car-makers, the only reason to spend money racing your cars is to make money selling them.

‘Win On Sunday, Sell On Monday’ was an adage coined by Detroit and motivation enough for Ford to heavily back its Mustang to win the Trans-American Sedan Championship. From 1966-67 it took the Over Two Litre title then for 1969 produced a model specifically designed to dominate TransAm events.

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With the capacity limited to 5.0 litres, Ford’s 302 cubic inch V8 was a perfect choice for the provocatively-named Boss 302. Tweaks for reliable racing included a crankshaft with four-bolt main bearings, cylinder heads came from the bigger Cleveland 351, improved manifolding and a choice of carburettors. Road cars used a 780cfm Holley four-barrel but race versions were permitted dual Holley Dominators. Officially the engine produced 290bhp (215kW) but in race trim, 280kW was more realistic.

| Read next: Allan Moffat's Trans-Am Mustang

Visually the Boss sat lower and wider than other 1969s in Mach 1 guise. Shorter, stiffer springs and extreme front camber dropped the nose for improved grip and already exaggerated wheel-arches were flared to accommodate race rubber.

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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 better year for the 302-engined cars, with more than 7000 sold. However it was overshadowed by a decline in overall Mustang sales.

| 2020 Market Review: Mustang Mach 1/Cobra-Jet/Boss 302/Shelby 

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.

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Inside, 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.

Styling changes for 1970 included replacing the outboard lights with clusters incorporating indicators and running lights. The main headlights were shifted to the grille and a ‘shaker’ style air-intake added. New ‘hockey stick’ stripes ran down both sides and joined in the centre of the bonnet.

With the exception of Allan Moffat’s famous Boss 302 racer, Australia didn’t see many of these Mustangs as new cars. This meant that cars arriving here since the 1990s might not have needed their authenticity compromised by conversion to right-hand drive.

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When buying a car that is to be regularly driven, the side on which the steering wheel sits will be more of an issue than when buying for club-day use or investment.

More significant, is quality and deficiencies like an incorrect engine or poor-quality repaint which will drag values down.

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 you should buy.

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VALUE RANGE: Ford Mustang Boss 302

Fair: $60,000
Good: $90,000
Excellent: $125,000

(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)

BUYER'S CHECKLIST

Body & chassis

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Not even rare Mustangs like the Boss went through any special prep during production and still suffer from rust. Good news is that panels for pre-1971 Mustangs remain available and local stockists may have what you need. Areas to check first are sills and floors, rear quarter panels and window surrounds. New lights, bumpers and some chromed items are available locally, as are all items of window glass. Don’t smash the sloped window on your Fastback though as these cost around 50 percent more than a windscreen. Drooping doors can be fixed with new hinge sets at around $250 per side.

Engine & transmission

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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 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 top loader four-speed may feel stubborn until the oil is warm and the clutch will 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 on chassis upgrades depends on how the car is to be used; $2000 for a basic rebuild to more than $5000 if you are brave enough to use one of these as a ‘track day’ car. The steering isn’t naturally sharp but a rebuilt steering box might help and will be essential 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 or the suspension.

Interior & electrics

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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. Electrical components are generally available if not authentic, with reproductions of the original Autolite starter motor costing less than $400.

1969-1970 Ford Mustang Boss specs

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

 

From Unique Cars #447, December 2020

 

 

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