Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
January 27, 2014
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

By 2003, Richard Bodrero and his family were the proud owners of two desirable and highly collectible 1969 Cobra Jet Mustangs, a Mach 1 and a Shelby GT 500. To complete their ’69 performance Mustang line-up, and to fulfill a wish for his daughter’s 16th birthday, Richard started looking for a Boss 302 as a family restoration project. However, his eBay search turned up a car that would completely change the direction of the Bodreros’ Mustang outlook.

“We stumbled across a ’69 Boss 302 survivor,” Richard says. “It had a special history, causing my wife, daughter, and myself to want the car desperately. However, the seller’s reserve put the car out of our price realm.”

Proving that some things are just meant to be, when the auction ended without a sale, an optimistic Richard contacted the owner. To his delight, the offer was accepted. The Bodrero family mindset suddenly switched from restoration to preservation.

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This story has its beginnings on October 3, 1969, when Donald Vanderson bought a new Acapulco Blue Boss 302 from Yates Stevens Ford in Kirkwood, Missouri. He enjoyed his new Trans-Am inspired Mustang sparingly for five years, adding only 16,666 miles before placing it in storage where the car remained, untouched, for the next 24 years. When Vanderson passed away in 1998, he bequeathed his low-mileage Boss 302 to his nephew, Ray Claybrooks, who held on to the survivor for five years before putting it up for sale on eBay.

“There is a great deal of sentimental value involved,” said Ray Claybrooks in a letter to Bodrero when they closed the deal. “I trust that it has found a good home.”

Claybrooks need not worry. Bodrero and his family have proven good stewards of the Boss 302’s legacy, not only for the original owner’s family but also for the legend of the Boss 302. Upon taking possession, Bodrero contacted Bob Perkins, owner of Perkins Restorations and longtime Boss 302 expert, for suggestions about how to detail the Boss 302 without damaging its survivor status. Perkins recommended a three-step hand-rub process to bring the shine back to the faded Acapulco blue paint. He also rebuilt the original shocks and alternator, which were showing signs of fatigue, more from age than use.

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The factory invoice and Deluxe Marti Report show that original owner Vanderson took delivery of a Boss 302 with several desirable options, including high-back bucket seats, rear spoiler, sport slats, 3.91 axle ratio with Traction-Lok, and tachometer. All in all, it was a nicely equipped Boss 302 that retailed for $3,400. No wonder Vanderson took such good care of it. Noting that the Boss was built and released to the dealer in May 1969, some five months before Vanderson took delivery, we assume that it was ordered as dealer stock, not by Vanderson

“We take great pride in owning a piece of automotive history in its original state,” adds Bodrero, who keeps the now 20,000-mile Boss 302 in a climate-controlled display area along with the family’s current Grabber Blue Shelby GT 500s, a ’69 and a ’10. “The Boss survivor gives us great pleasure and satisfaction knowing that it will always be protected in its original state while in our possession.”

Then he adds, “Which we hope will be a very long time.”