|Vehicle:||1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302|
This car, item number 1874614511 on eBay Motors, sold for $29,999.99 on December 11, 2002.
In the late 1960s, the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-Am series was one of the hottest events in motorsports. Since it was based on homologated production cars, all the major manufacturers were involved in one way or another. Camaros, ‘Cudas, Challengers and even Javelins duked it out with Ford in the Trans-Am.
Since the Trans-Am specifications stipulated a maximum displacement of 5 liters (305 cubic inches), Ford couldn’t use their hot new 351-c.i. “Cleveland” engine. Or at least, not all of it. Instead, they put the Cleveland heads onto the year-old 302-c.i. block to create a new breed of fire-breathing steed, the Boss 302. The wedge-shaped combustion chambers and large valves (2.19-inch intake and 1.75-inch exhaust) allowed maximum flow, aided by a Holley four-barrel carburetor, ported high-rise aluminum intake manifold, and cast exhaust headers. Other tweaks included four-bolt main bearing caps, a high-profile camshaft, solid valve lifters and dual-point ignition, all of which resulted in a reliable advertised 290 horsepower. A rev limiter was fitted to prevent the motor from being wound up past 6,150 rpm (done more to appease the folks in the warranty claims department, since the engine was good for about another 1,000 rpm, which brought an additional 75 to 100 horsepower).
Although the Mustang handled better than most of its muscle car peers, some fine-tuning was still needed. Most notable was staggering the rear shock absorbers to prevent wheel hop. Heavier spring rates and wider tires, Magnum 500 wheels (exclusively available on the Boss Mustangs) and subtly flared wheel arches also helped. To make a distinctive visual impact, Larry Shinoda designed an appealing C-stripe side applique and rear window slats (á la the Lamborghini Miura). To aid aerodynamics, he added a front chin spoiler and trunk-mounted rear wing. The look was so well received that by the start of 1970 production the window slats and spoilers were offered as an option on all Mustang fastbacks. In 1970, the only changes to the Boss 302 were minor, most notably a change in the striping to a “hockey stick” along the sides going up to the hood. Smaller valves were used and cast aluminum valve covers became standard.
Its homologation requirement of 1,000 was met during the first year of production. The Boss 302 came close to winning the Trans-Am title in 1969, and won it in 1970.
The car pictured here represents one of the better buys I’ve recently seen on a Boss 302. With limited-edition muscle cars continuing to ratchet up in price, Boss Mustangs are following along in value. While some may not take a fancy to Lime Green Metallic, it’s also the last color of choice for a fakey-doo cobbler, increasing the chances that this is a real car.
The wild card is the transmission, whose issues will eventually need to be dealt with (especially if the new owner can’t double clutch). However, parts-if not a whole replacement transmission (a good excuse to stuff in a Tremec six-speed perhaps?)-are readily available and the work can be done by almost any Ford dealership. Figure on spending somewhere between $800 to $2,200 on the tranny, with most of that being labor, and you’ll be safe.
The combination of a verifiable provenance and a quality older restoration means that the new owner wisely snapped it up as a “Buy It Now,” slightly below the market. This new owner also has the choice of taking off the rough edges to make it into a trophy magnet (you don’t need to get it out of first gear to get onto the concours field, do you?) or of spending a few more bucks to make it a fun weekend driver as well. Either way, as a Boss 302 for Mach 1 money, this was a good buy.-B. Mitchell Carlson