In the November-December 2013 issue of ACC, Editor Pickering tapped me for an article about two 1969 Camaros, otherwise known as the Camaro Comparo. For this exercise, I’ll be digging into two heavy hitters: a pair of 1969 Ford Boss 429 Mustangs. I’ll label this the 429 Mustang Match-up.
Building the Boss
The Boss 429 was the brainchild of Semon E. “Bunkie” Knudsen, who, after a successful 29-year career at GM, jumped ship to take the position of President at Ford Motor Company. The job didn’t last very long, about 19 months, due to some head butting with then-Executive Vice President Lee Iacocca, an up-and-coming star at Ford and well known for his marketing prowess.
Nevertheless, during his short tenure, Knudsen wanted to take on the track-dominating Chrysler Hemispherical 426 (Hemi) and put Ford on the competition map. Ford was already running the new-for-1969 Torino Talladega, and engineers were tasked with designing and building the massive, heavy-breathing 429 to take on the now-famous Hemi.
Once completed, Ford needed to homologate the engine into a production car to make it NASCAR-legal. While most CEOs would have automatically dropped the engine into the Torino Talladega, Knudsen made the decision to stuff the oversized mill into the new Mustang Sportsroof body. Knudsen felt that the popular Mustang platform, especially in Boss trim, was better suited for retail sales and more likely to resonate with power-hungry guys looking to shred some Polyglas tires on a Saturday night.
NASCAR rules didn’t specify the type of car the “production” engine needed to be supplanted into, just that the manufacturer needed to produce 500 units to comply with the flimsy rules that dominated NASCAR at the time.
A Krafty solution
Although Knudsen’s decision was right on target from a marketing standpoint, the beefy 429 wouldn’t fit into the stock engine bay of the 1969 Mustang. Business efficiencies directed that the job be tasked to Kar Kraft of Brighton, MI. Once in Brighton, the cars would be altered and re-engineered to house the new mill and ramp up the suspension to handle its under-rated 375 hp.
Those body revisions are partly why Boss 429s are so difficult to replicate. Boss 429s — or Boss 9s, as they are known — are full of subtle and not-so-subtle nuances that make them special. They are nearly impossible to fake. Plus, the Ford VIN includes a Z to designate the 429 and a “Special Performance” designation on the warranty tag.
Once the boys in Brighton were finished, a Kar Kraft NASCAR chassis number (KK1201 to KK2558 for all 1969/1970 production) was affixed to the door jamb above the Ford data plate. With that, the hand-built cars’ final retail cost ratcheted up to just under $5,000, which was an eye-watering amount of money in 1969. Still, production in 1969 totaled 857 units, and 499 units in 1970, which was considered a success by Ford and Kar Kraft.
|Vehicle:||1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429s|
|Number Produced:||857 (1969), 499 (1970)|
|Original List Price:||$4,900|
|Tune Up Cost:||$500|
|Chassis Number Location:||KK number on inside of driver’s door above Ford warranty plate|
|Engine Number Location:||KK number on rear of block|
|Club Info:||Mustang Club of America|
|Alternatives:||1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, 1970-71 Hemi ’Cuda and Challenger|
The white Boss
Our first car, Lot 543, was sold for $209,000, including buyer’s premium, at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale sale on March 15, 2014.
Here’s what Auctions America’s catalog said about the car:
“This particular car is a very original example that has received one repaint in Wimbledon White, with an interior décor group black interior that features bucket “comfortweave” high-back bucket seats and center console. The interior and undercarriage are unrestored and the mileage registers as 33,960 miles.
“The Boss 429 had its concours preparation overseen by Ed Meyer, who is the head judge of the Shelby American Automobile Club, with over 30 years of experience with these cars. Mr. Meyer certifies this as an outstanding original-example Boss. This outstanding first-year Boss 429 is naturally accompanied with a Marti Report, various pieces of original documentation, and it has consistently scored highly in three national Shelby Convention concours gatherings.”
I was at this sale and it was a great event. If you have never been to this auction, the venue is outstanding and the South Florida weather can’t be beat during March.
This Boss 429 Mustang, Kar Kraft chassis 1785, was in terrific condition. While the color was neutral, it looked very nice in person. I like white-over-black cars, and this one exhibited a certain feeling of originality that’s nearly impossible to replicate. It’s the kind of thing only a few cars possess, as it’s often erased when cars are fully restored.
This car had been partially restored, and it was still in very nice condition overall. The parts found on this example, according to sources, were mostly authentic, with plenty of OEM items on board. Plus, this Boss 9 was rewarded with some serious judging hardware not found on all examples, such as three-time recognition from the Shelby American Automobile Club.
Ed Meyer, who is the head judge of SAAC, also provided his seal of approval for this car, and oversaw its concours preparation. Further, it was also reported to have 33,960 miles — a statement backed up by an exceptional unrestored interior and undercarriage.
The maroon Boss
Our second car, Lot 563, was sold for $176,000, including buyer’s premium, also at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale, FL, sale on March 15, 2014.
Here’s what Auctions America’s catalog said about the car:
“On offer is this fully restored, very correct example of Ford’s pre-eminent muscle car; the highly respected Boss 429.
“Engine compartment and undercarriage are highly detailed. The engine block is stamped with correct partial VIN, and the transmission plus the remainder of the driveline are believed by the vendor to be original. The interior is correct with accurate non-toe pad carpet, while the trunk-mounted battery is an accurate reproduction with the proper vent caps.
“The engine has only a few hundred miles on an older professional rebuild. The steering system has a fresh rebuild with correct, unique Boss 429 parts, including ram, pump and Blue Dot reproduction hoses. Other evidence of the detail used in the restoration includes the use of correct reproduction Autolite shocks, correct date-coded glass, original-style lug nuts, alternator, belts and engine pulleys. All smog equipment is present.”
Kar Kraft chassis #1689 also presented very nicely at this sale. The Royal Maroon color was perhaps more attractive than the white example, but coupled with the black interior, came off a bit flat to me due to the lack of contrast.
As reported, this car was nicely restored with an exceptional engine bay and very nice undercarriage. Per the description, the consignor also expressed that the engine was likely original to the car. On the flip side of the presentation, the car also included more than a few reproduction parts, which were required to complete the restoration. While this isn’t the kiss of death for a Boss 9, it does affect the car’s valuation.
Documentation was reasonable and included a Deluxe Marti Report, a very rare factory build sheet and two Ford dealer invoices. A 2013 Mustang Club of America Concours inspection report also accompanied the car. Additionally, it had a 2013 National Silver designation by the MCA, which is testimony to the overall presentation.
The 429 Mustang match-up
Boss 429s routinely trade hands from $175,000 to about $250,000 based on the multitude of sales tracked in the ACC database. The highest recorded sale was $588,500, achieved at Mecum’s Monterey, CA, sale in August 2013 (ACC# 227424). That car was completely original, with only 902 documented miles on the clock.
Our two subject cars were both very nice cars in their own respect. But which car was the better deal?
Both cars were in fine condition, but the white Boss was a more authentic example. It had more of its authentic and likely original “born with” parts, and retained much of its DNA from the factory.
The maroon Boss didn’t have the same level of preservation or presentation, and while that doesn’t make it a bad car, it does make it less valuable — especially in the six-digit category world of car collecting.
The question is, was the white car really $33,000 better than our maroon example?
Picking a best buy
Authenticity has a price, and Boss 429s are incredibly sought-after automobiles. But at this price point, you can’t always judge the better buy solely by the price paid.
It all boils down to this: You can’t replace originality, and you can’t replicate it, either. The white car would be far more difficult to replace — it was more authentic and more desirable — and in the long run, it will be more sought after than the maroon example.
But on the flip side, the maroon Boss would be a more useable car, since it can be driven and enjoyed without sacrificing as much of its value. So to answer the question, you have to ask yourself what you’d want to do with your car. As a pure investment that you might rarely drive, if ever, the white car wins. As a great investment-grade car you’ll run through the gears a little more often? The maroon car looks a little better.
At the end of the day, both of these cars were well bought, each in its own right. But with that statement, and considering how the market views these cars as ultimate Mustang collectibles, I’d give the edge to the buyer of the white Boss as the more astute purchase, even considering the additional $33k he had to toss in the ring to park it in his garage. Originality is king in the car collecting world, and that car will always be just a little more desirable because of its originality and historical aura