Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
October 28, 2010
Photos By: Jim Smart

We're always talking about the enjoy-ment one gets from actually driving a classic Ford. Like many of you, my '66 Mustang coupe is just a simple and clean restoration with a few minor modifications and it has seen its fair share of road trips, cruises, car shows, and highway congestion. The same can't always be said for the more desirable and rarer breed of Mustangs, such as unrestored Cobra Jets, Shelbys, Boss cars, and the like. I can't say I blame these owners too much. Some of these cars are worth six times what my little coupe is worth and having that six-figure ride safely ensconced in an enclosed car trailer certainly must put the owner's mind at ease (and the owner's insurance company as well!). So it is a distinct pleasure when we get to meet someone like Jim Bridgett, who has no qualms about hopping into his '70 Boss 302 and taking it for a spin. Matter of fact, he stretches his Boss' legs at least once a week he tells us.

Jim had wanted a Boss 302 since high school. Not being able to afford the insurance though, he settled for a Cleveland-powered '70 Mach, which cut the insurance bill in half. Jim sold the Mach in 1974, with the influx of the gas crisis looming, for a '74 Comet and its fuel-sipping inline six. The agreement he made then with his wife was that when the kids were all gone, he could get another "toy." That time came in 1999 when Jim purchased another '70 Mach. This one wasn't as well appointed as his first Mach, but it did have the way-cool Shaker hood option on the Cleveland-something he remembered seeing on that Boss all those years ago.

Jim found the Boss you see here in 2004 when the buyer contacted Jim about placing an ad in his Mustang club's newsletter to sell it (Jim is a member of the National Capitol Region Mustang Club, Bayside Mustangs, and the MCA). Instead, Jim purchased it. The seller even delivered it to Jim's Crofton, Maryland, home. The Boss's rare Bright Gold Metallic topcoat had been repainted sometime in the past, but other than some light detailing, the Boss was ready to go anywhere, or so Jim thought. It wasn't soon after that Jim was motoring his way downtown to display the Boss at the Washington, D.C. International Auto Show when its raspy 302 mill sputtered to a stop and fell silent. With little he could do on the side of the road, the decision was made to have the Boss towed back home to tackle the problem in his home garage.

Time flew by, as it so easily does for all of us, and the car ended up being stored for the winter. It wasn't until the spring of 2005 that Jim was able to get under the hood and figure out the problem, which was lack of fuel delivery. It turns out there was sufficient sediment in the original tank (upwards of an inch thick!). The crud got sucked into the fuel line and fouled the filter and carburetor, completely plugging up the fuel system. This caused the car to not only quit, but not restart either. A new reproduction tank was ordered from Virginia Classic Mustang and the Boss' original 780-cfm Holley was sent off to Pony Carburetors for a complete rebuild and tuning. Once the new fuel tank and refinished Holley were bolted back up, new filters installed, and the fuel lines blown out, the Boss once again came to life with the twist of Jim's ignition key; ready for more driving.

With a happy Boss owner and a well-running car, Jim put miles on the Mustang and smiles on his face. That June his fun with the Boss culminated in driving it up to the Carlisle Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to display it in the Boss Nationals section of the show. Notice we said drive it. Crofton, Maryland, to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is a 250-mile round trip, give or take a few miles, plus additional mileage during the show weekend back and forth to the hotel, restaurants, and so on. That might not sound like much when you're in traffic for several hours a day in your daily driver, but we're talking about a '70 Boss 302-four-speed, stiff clutch, no air-conditioning, and all! We're sure Jim didn't have any trouble finding parking at the hotel since he didn't have to find space for a tow rig and trailer either!

Unfortunately, Jim's smile didn't last, as the original Boss 302 engine developed a problem the following year-May 2006 to be exact. The engine came out that fall and was sent to noted D.C.-area Mustang expert Richard Porter of Woodbridge, Virginia. There, Richard gave the Boss engine a new lease on life, starting with boring the service replacement block 0.030-inch over. Forged slugs hanging on the original Boss rods with full floating pins were used in the short-block build up, as well as the original Boss crank, now cut "10/10" to give the new bearings the perfect surface. A Crane Cams Boss 302 reproduction cam was added to finish off the short-block. The original heads, after being generously ported and polished, and given fresh valves, were bolted back down on the Boss block. Finally, the original intake was powdercoated, and the original Holley was set back on top to finish up the build along with some show-level detailing. Jim's car was back on the road in the spring of 2007, but the engine's rings never seated properly, and caused the engine to burn oil. Jim purchased a new Ford Racing Boss 302 block and had Richard transfer everything to the new block. With special-order pistons and rings, it's been screaming right along ever since, and Jim now takes the Boss out on a weekly basis.

Other than the engine mods during the rebuild, the Boss is fairly stock. Why mess with Shinoda's perfection right? All the right Boss stuff is there, including the close-ratio, Top Loader four-speed, Hurst shifter, competition suspension package, staggered rear shocks, factory rev-limiter, and more. The Boss also features many desirable options from the 1970 sales brochure, including the Shaker hood, 15x7 Magnum 500s, Sport Slats, front and rear spoilers, and the interior Décor Group.

Boss production for 1970 far outweighed the 1969 model year (see production figures in our sidebar), but nonetheless, the metallic paint options were certainly made in low numbers. Contrary to popular belief, the Boss (even the Boss 429) could be ordered in more than just the now famous Grabber color lineup. So if you see a gold SportsRoof while traveling the open highways of the Northeast, don't be so shocked if you spot the tell tale hockey-stripe Boss graphics on it; because this Boss is one that gets driven.

The Details
Jim Bridgett's '70 Mustang Boss 302

Engine

  • Ford Racing Boss 302 block
  • 4.00-inch bore
  • 3.00-inch stroke
  • Forged pistons
  • Floating piston pins
  • Stock crank machined 0.010-inch on rods and mains
  • Crane Cams Boss 302 cam
  • Stock cylinder heads ported and polished
  • Stock intake powdercoated
  • Holley 780-cfm carburetor rebuilt by Pony Carburetors
  • Autolite dual-point distributor

Transmission

  • Top Loader four-speed manual
  • Hurst shifter

Rearend

  • Ford 9-inch housing
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • 3.91 gears

Exhaust

  • Stock reproduction dual exhaust

Suspension

  • Front: Stock 350 lb/in coil springs, stock control arms, heavy-duty shocks
  • Rear: Stock four-leaf springs, heavy-duty shocks (staggered)

Brakes

  • Front: Stock 11-inch discs, single-piston calipers
  • Rear: Stock 10-inch drums

Wheels

  • Front: Magnum 500, 15x7
  • Rear: Magnum 500, 15x7

Tires

  • Front: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P235/60R15
  • Rear: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P255/60R15

Interior

  • Original black vinyl bucket seats and carpet, Grant Mustang steering wheel, Sun Super Tach

Exterior

  • DuPont Bright Gold Metallic, rear window Sport Slats, front and rear spoilers

Boss 302 Production Figures

  • 1969..........1,628 units
  • 1970..........7,013 units

Boss 302 Production Colors

1969 Production

  • Acapulco Blue
  • Bright Yellow
  • Calypso Coral
  • Wimbledon White

1970 Production

  • Black
  • Bright Blue Metallic
  • Bright Yellow
  • Dark Ivy Green Metallic
  • Grabber Orange
  • Grabber Blue
  • Grabber Green
  • Light Ivy Yellow
  • Medium Blue Metallic
  • Medium Gold Metallic
  • Medium Lime Metallic
  • Pastel Blue
  • Red Vermillion
  • White