Mustang MonthlyFeatured Vehicles
Rare Barn Find: 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302
In Absentia Father/Son Project
“The car was pretty much in the middle of a barn, ironically in the same position as your cover car—Shinoda’s prototype Boss.” Chase VanDyne was referring to the cover of my latest Rare Finds book—Jerry Heasley’s Rare Finds, Mustangs & Fords. The cover car was Larry Shinoda’s white ’69 Boss 302 prototype. VanDyne’s barn find was a ’70 Boss 302, white like the famous Shinoda prototype. Seven weeks later, VanDyne made a phone call to Mike Kline and heard a question he didn’t expect, “When you going to pick up the car?” “Does this mean we have a deal?” VanDyne replied.
By now, VanDyne had purchased more than a dream Mustang. He had a new friend. Kline, in his early sixties, could identify with the younger VanDyne. Kline wanted to rebuild this Boss 302 with help from his boys. Unfortunately, both sons died. “After the kids passed, he told me, ‘I couldn’t even go look at the Boss 302. I couldn’t uncover it.’” Kline had been counting on help from his boys to restore the Boss 302 he parked in the barn in 1988. Instead, he left the Boss sitting. Finally, in December 2014, he offered the car for sale. “It was never a daily driver. He just treasured this car,” VanDyne added.
The odometer stood at 31,000-odd miles. The paint was original. The car was in great condition, Kline remembered, so he asked a big price in his Craigslist ad. “I happened to type in Boss 302, nothing else, and up came this ad. The pictures were not good. They were grainy; they were dark. I thought, “I wonder if this is legit?” No phone number. And I thought, well I’m going to investigate a little bit. So I sent the guy an email,” VanDyne explained. To his surprise, Kline emailed back his phone number. “He was a nice gentleman. He had owned the car since 1976.”
Kline lived in Larue, Ohio; population 750 and five hours away from VanDyne’s home in Holland, Michigan. VanDyne wondered if he should make the trip. “I called and talked to Jeff Sneathen at SEMO Mustang in Missouri. They restore Bosses and Shelbys. Jeff had just done a Mach 1 for a buddy of mine and I met him at the muscle car show in Chicago. I told Jeff that Kline was looking for a lot of money for this car and I don’t think it is worth it.” Jeff encouraged VanDyne to go have a look anyway.
“You’ll shoot yourself with regret if you don’t go look at the car,” Sneathen said. VanDyne left at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning and Kline was waiting in his driveway when VanDyne got there at 10 a.m. VanDyne immediately noticed three Fox-body Mustangs inside on the left side of the barn. The Boss 302, tractors, and bales of hay occupied the right half. VanDyne picked up as much on Kline’s story as he did on the Boss 302 he wanted to purchase.
“His wife had a Cobra Fox-body and then there were a couple other Mustangs—a convertible Fox, and a hardtop. Those were his son’s cars. He lost both of his sons in car accidents—one in 2007 and one in 2011. They shared his passion for Mustangs,” VanDyne tells us. VanDyne spent three hours talking with Kline as the two looked over the white Boss. “I brought every reference guide I could possibly find on how to check and make sure that everything was legit. I did as much due diligence as I could. It’s the first Boss I’ve even looked at.”
The body appeared to be really straight with original paint and surface rust coming up on the rockers. The floorboards were not rusted through, but VanDyne ran his iPad under the car and took pictures. “It had deteriorated on the bottom side due to the storage. He didn’t realize it was that bad. It was kind of like watching the air go out of a balloon when he saw the photos. And I felt horrible for him. But, it is what it is. And he needed to see it. Because of his health issues and because of the loss of his sons, it had been many years since he had gone to check on the car,” VanDyne says.
Kline had other interested buyers, but sold the car to VanDyne. Kline obviously liked the idea of VanDyne restoring the car with his son. VanDyne left that first day with tears in his eyes after talking with Kline about his boys and their love of this Boss 302. VanDyne doesn’t want to reveal the price he paid except to say it was “an awful jump” from the asking price, but a fair price for the condition of the Mustang. “I held to my guns for seven weeks. We spoke on a weekly basis and I called him two days before he had major surgery. I was in Texas for business and called him two weeks after his surgery to check on his recovery.” VanDyne didn’t say a word about the Boss 302. He wasn’t even going to bring up the car. After 10-15 minutes of talking, Kline said, “When you going to come pick up the car?” VanDyne plans to include Kline in every step of the project with video and photos. When the car is finished he will bring the car back to Ohio so Kline can run it through the gears again.