Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsEvents
Les Baer: One Man’s Dream Mustang Collection Comes To Life
What’s your favorite Mustang? Is it a Boss 302, a Shelby GT500, or the coveted Boss 429? Perhaps you fancy the 1993, 1995 or 2000 Cobra R models—or maybe you’d prefer a new Shelby GT350R or a 1,000 hp Super Snake? Filling a single-bay garage with one of these selections would be fantastic, however, can you imagine having them all?
For Les Baer, the dream is real, and he’s spent the better part of three decades collecting his favorites. A gun maker by trade, and Mustang racer and collector at heart, Baer has accumulated 72 muscle cars. His fleet consists of the most desirable, rare, and fun Mustangs you could ever want, plus a few brand-X machines, and yes, he drives them all.
You may remember Les Baer’s for his championship winning Pro 5.0 Mustangs that dominated the scene a decade ago. Racing with his wife Karen, Baer burst upon the Fun Ford Weekend Pro 5.0 scene with a back-halved 1982 Mustang GT that packed a nitrous-gulping Kuntz & Co. small-block and a five-speed. Rowing the stick shift, Baer was a force in the class, winning multiple titles. Amazingly, he still owns the ’82, which sits in pristine condition.
When horsepower exceeded the capabilities of the Fox, he assembled a 1996 GT that revolutionized Pro 5.0 racing. Ultimately, Baer captured three championships and a title at the Mobil 1 World Ford Challenge, but years on the circuit took its toll. And that’s when he turned to collecting.
Cars are not his only passion; firearms enthusiasts will instantly recognize him as the man behind Les Baer Customs, which makes some of the finest hand-crafted pistols and riffles money can buy. Recently, on a trip to the Midwest, Les and Karen walked us through the gun-making workshop and the incredible, virtually overwhelming, Mustang collection.
Our tour began at what Les Baer’s “Man Cave” which lies on his property across from his home. Entering the non-descript metal building, we were thrown into automotive overload. The entryway is decorated with a comfy red leather chair with ottoman, a beautiful Ford GT replica hangs on the wall, there’s a Mustang pedal car at our feet, a shelf with a Holley carb, a scale Terminator replica engine, and a super-rare inline Boss 302 small-block intake on display.
Turn the corner and there’s endless array of art, neon, restored vintage gas pumps, diecast cars, cool signs and a few of his racing trophies. There are old Coca-Cola machines, near life size statues of Jake and Elwood Blues, and tucked in the back are two pristine 1970 Mach 1 Mustangs. One sports the 428 Super Cobra Jet and the other, a rare 428 CJ Twister. Truth be told, we didn’t want to leave, but Les promised there was more to see.
After a short drive, we arrived at another plain warehouse that would be right at home with farm equipment filling its space. But there wasn’t a John Deere to be seen. As darkness gave way to light, silhouettes turned into Shelby Mustangs, Boss Mustangs, Mach 1s and more. Mustangs as far as the eye could see, so many it was hard to process.
This warehouse was packed door handle to door handle with about 25 late-model Mustangs and a few classics. The first car we approached was a bright yellow Shelby GT350. It was sitting next to a Shelby Terlingua and in front of that, a white GT350R, then a twin-turbo Boss 302 Laguna Seca and a Shelby1000 that Les says makes 1,200 horsepower at the crank and over 1,000 at the wheels. His Show hauler was in an adjacent bay, and tucked inside was a flawless 1965 GT350.
“I’ve always been into Fords. I started collecting them back when I was racing and its grown ever since,” Baer stated. In fact, he told us that his first car was a 1966 Hertz Shelby with an automatic, but he had to sell it because he couldn’t afford the $46 per month payment. But owning the cars he loves was his goal and he’s worked hard in business and in racing and he’s enjoying the fruits of that labor. “We met so many great people when we ran Fun Ford and many of them are gun enthusiasts, too. And I don’t just let the cars sit, I try to drive the classics a few times a year, to circulate the fluids and because they’re just fun. The newer cars, I have to keep on trickle charge or within 20-45 days the batteries are dead, but I take them to local cruises and shows.”
And when he likes a certain model it’s clear he doesn’t stop at just one example. We saw a multitude of Super Snakes, Bosses, Fox-bodies and no Mustang collection would be complete without a Terminator.
Clearly, Les has a thing for Shelby Mustangs, and his 1965, 1966 Hertz GT350H, 1967 GT350 and 1968 GT500KR are some of the nicest you’ll see. He also has a 1966 survivor with 6,000 miles, a 2008 GT500KR and a few late-model Hertz Mustangs to complete the set. Les is also pretty fond of Grabber Green; his collection includes a Grabber Green 1970 Mach 1 428 SCJ, a Boss 302, and two Boss 429s.
The shop area contains a lift, bright lighting, tool boxes, a lot of oil and filters, and loads of spare parts. There was no free space, as the Grabber Green and Grabber Blue Boss 429, a Cougar Eliminator, a Shelby-built S197 GT350 sat along side a 1970 LS-6 Chevelle and a rare 1970 Hemi Cuda, both with four-speeds.
Moving into the back room is where things get hot. Within those walls sit an AC Cobra, a Pro Street Cuda, a twin-turbo Boss 302 and seven additional Boss 429s, which are the pride and joy of Les Baer’s collection.
“The Boss 429 is the pinnacle of Mustang performance,” said Baer. “I drive them mainly on weekends, some to cruises, some are trailer queens,” he admits. “There weren’t very many built and it took very little to make these cars fly. Mine have been redone and they make about 580-600 horsepower. And he’s got every color save for Jade Black (1969) and Pastel Blue (1970).
Other notable are the pair of Cougar Eliminators, a Pro Street Mustang, a flawless 1982 GT and Late-model fans will drool over the trio of R-models, with an accumulated total of under 200 miles, or you may want the supercharged Saleen S-351.