Jeff Tann
July 1, 1998

Skeptics said it couldn't be done. Seems Ford boss Semon E. "Bunkie" Knudsen had this crazy idea for getting the most mileage from a NASCAR mandate--to build at least 500 streetable versions of the hemi-head Blue Crescent big-block engine to meet NASCAR homologation requirements. That's at least 500 streetable Boss 429 engines.

But where to put them?

Simple logic would have dictated installing them in the car in which they were being campaigned on the superspeedway: Ford's limited-production '69 Torino Talladega. But Knudson wasn't having any part of that. It was too easy--and short on media potential. Mustang needed an ego boost, something to spur sales. Installing the big brute Boss Nine in the Mustang was no small engineering feat. It would take special production facilities and hand-built close attention. Enter Kar Kraft of Brighton, Michigan, Ford's outside contractor for the '69-'70 Boss 429 project. Problem solved.

On January 15, 1969, Job 1 rolled off the Kar Kraft line, and Boss 429 reality was under way. As much as we like to romanticize the Boss 429 Mustang, it wasn't the sales success that legend has led us to believe it was. Ford dealers around the country wound up stuck with most of them, not to mention their Shelby cousins. The Boss Nine 'Stang from an investment standpoint was a terrific buy, however, because quite a few of them in dusty condition sold after the beginning of the following model year.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Sales success or not, we like the Boss 429 for its monster mill with super-wide aluminum hemi heads and massive bumpity-bump cast valve covers. Larry Berkovich, a veteran restorer in Snohomish, Washington, owns this Candyapple Red '69 Boss 429 Mustang. As you can see, it's a concours-restored glistening beauty. It was professionally restored by Chuck Baker a long time ago. Restomod need not apply here, because stock is where it's at with a matching-numbers Boss 429.

The Boss 429 engine sports a different personality than its wedge siblings. Punch the gas on Ford's Blue Crescent, and the engine revs smartly with a high-pitched tone we often associate with a small-block. The difference lies in torque as the revs build. You can feel those semi-hemi street chambers going to work, channeling large quantities of air and atomized fuel straight across from intake to exhaust in a true cross-flow design. Translated, this mule packs a swift kick.

We've learned with vintage Mustangs and other collectible Fords that not all of them were meant to be driven once restored. This car is a case in point: It's driven rarely and kept in Kar Kraft condition for us to admire and remember. Those are genuine N.O.S. Boss parts from bumper to bumper. Combined with extraordinary workmanship, they complete a top-quality show piece that rates honors in the Shelby American Automobile Club's Senior Division, which means you're not likely to hear this one laying down rubber on Main Street anytime soon.