June 1, 2001

The relative rarity of any vintage musclecar is, in most cases, proportional to the amount of time it's not driven. Few folks, after all, are willing to subject their prize to the wear and dangers of the open road. When said car has also been restored to factory-original condition, the propensity to drive the beast decreases even more quickly.

Steve and Cindy Lubbert of Bloomington, Illinois, fly in the face of both these lines of conventional reasoning. They're the fortunate owners of a not-so-common '69 Boss 429. They restored the car to concours specifications and shortly thereafter decided that a few modifications-followed by highway driving, autocrossing, and drag racing-would be their preferred course of action. Gutsy.

Steve purchased the Wimbledon White big-block Boss from a dude in Quincy, Illinois, in 1986. The car already had been modified with a Tri-Power setup, but all of the original equipment, including the exhaust, the battery, and the smog and air cleaner, had been retained by then-owner Gary Poling. For the purchase, Gary kept the Tri-Power but retrieved all of the original equipment from his attic and gave it to Steve.

For the next nine years, Steve pretty much sat on the car, then in early 1995 he began the long restoration process. This was a ground-up operation, with the Boss being placed on a rotisserie and every component cleaned and repainted separately. It took nearly two years, but when the job was completed, Steve and Cindy were ready for serious show competition.

"At first," says Steve, "I planned to make it as original as possible, which included [adding an] original Ford shifter, Goodyear Polyglas F60-15 tires, and an original '69 exhaust system with [a] resonator."

It didn't take long, however, for the notion that the couple couldn't settle for a show-only Boss to set in.

"After driving the car to one show," explains Steve, "we decided that some modifications were in order."

When Steve rebuilt the engine in 1995, he had already warmed things up a bit by installing a Lunati cam. With an eye toward highway driving, autocrossing, and drag racing, some additional tweaks were in order. The '69 exhaust was ditched for a '70-style system with 2.5-inch pipes, turbo mufflers, and cutouts. To minimize overheating, Steve added a Griffin aluminum radiator and electric fan. In back, rear window louvers were installed to help keep the black interior cool during the summer months, and a rear wing was bolted to the decklid for high-speed traction assist. On the inside, Steve included a Shelby rollbar and shoulder harnesses with inertia reels.

When we caught up with Steve and Cindy a couple of years ago at the Mid-America Shelby meet in Tulsa, the couple was busy sending the Boss 429 along the twisties at the Hallett road course, followed by a few quarter-mile sprints at the Tulsa International dragstrip.

Performance Fords are a staple among all members of the Lubbert household. Steve's history includes owning a '69 Mach 1 (his first car, purchased when he was a high school senior), a '69 Boss 302, and a '69 GT500. Eighteen-year-old son James pilots a '93 GT, while 16-year-old daughter Emily tools around in an '83 Capri.

"Although we trailer the car to long-distance events," says Steve, "we regularly drive it to local car shows and cruise nights. We believe that the best part of owning this type of classic car is to be able to drive it as it was intended to be driven."

Yes, Steve and Cindy Lubbert's '69 Boss 429 is a show car, but it's the Go! quotient that they appreciate the most, and so do we.