Jim Smart
September 13, 2007
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

We've had the good fortune of working with Contributing Editor Jerry Heasley for more than two decades. He has a natural talent for finding what looks terrific and discovering the rare and unusual. He's been a columnist in this magazine for more years than we can remember, unearthing the most unusual Fords around and sharing them with us. And he does it with a unique passion we can only associate with Jerry.

It shouldn't surprise us that Jerry came up with this '69 Boss 302 Mustang SportsRoof. It's one of the hottest restomods we've ever seen. Harrell Downey's passion for Boss 302s dates back to the age of nine when he first spotted a neighbor's Boss parked next door. Harrell copped a policy early on-white cars only, which made finding a white Boss 302 interesting and challenging. What's more, it had to be a '69 Boss 302. He found one on the Internet, but there was a catch. It had been promised to another buyer. It took a year, but Harrell and the new owner struck a deal. In fact, the seller, Matt Grill, performed most of the modifications before you.

It was Matt who decided to supercharge the Boss 302 using Paxton's blow-through setup for carbureted small-block Fords. To supercharge the Boss, Matt made special modifications for fit and function. Huffing a Boss 302 engine isn't easy. For one thing, it's an odd engine from Paxton's standpoint. We're talking a 302 small-block with Cleveland heads, which presented the aforementioned fitment issues. Compression must be dealt with because superchargers drive cylinder pressures skyward. This meant dealing with special pistons to get compression conservative-9.0:1 compared to a Boss 302's 11.0:1 stock. What's more, this engine displaces 347 ci, not 302.

As you might have guessed, this L&R Automotive-built Boss 302 is a powerhouse bent on high revs and brute performance. To survive both high revs and intense cylinder operating pressures, custom-forged pistons were needed. Matt opted for a custom mechanical flat-tappet camshaft with 0.540/0.560 lift and 272/282 duration, especially designed for supercharging. Heads were ported and polished to maximize airflow and make the most of {{{Ford}}}'s big-port Cleveland heads. Inside the plenum is a Barry Grant 750-cfm Mighty Demon, jetted and tuned for supercharging. That's a Paxton NOVI 1200 blower, by the way, producing 8 pounds of boost. An MSD ignition system fires the mix.

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You have to love the thought process going on here. Being a Boss 302, you'd expect to see a Ford close-ratio Top Loader in the tunnel. Matt opted for a Tremec World Class T-5 five-speed for the wonderful combination of snappy acceleration and over-the-road cruising. After all, someone has to spank all those Corvettes and Camaros on the interstate.

Down under is a 9-inch rear sporting 4.11 gears, a Traction-Lok diff, and 31-spline axles. The Boyd Coddington 18-inch wheels are wrapped in Toyo Proxes skins for a nice balance of size, beauty, and extraordinary handling. Because Ford did such a good job of suspension tuning, Matt didn't have to do much. Aside from a lowering job to improve center of gravity, the suspension is essentially stock.

Inside, Matt kept the interior stock except for a custom steering wheel and pseudo-Hurst shifter handle dovetailed into the T-5 transmission. This makes the Downey's Boss 302 the quintessential restomod because it says so much without having to brag.

Oh, did we mention it makes 550 hp?