Jeff Ford
August 1, 2002

Step By Step

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P156970_large 1971_Ford_Mustang_Boss_351 Driver_SideP156971_large 1971_Ford_Mustang_Boss_351 InteriorP156972_large 1971_Ford_Mustang_Boss_351 EngineP156973_large 1971_Ford_Mustang_Boss_351 Wheel

Boss 351s seem to fall into two categories: raced and used up, or cherished and held on to. If you find a pristine, low-mile Boss, it likely falls into the second category. For some reason, this type of Boss--more so than the 302 or 429--does not "get around" as much. Witness Louie and Becky Mills' Grabber Green monster. It's had only two owners: Ted Wamsley (for the first 28 1/2 years) and Louie (for the last 1 1/2 years)--and Ted is Becky's dad. The road to Louie getting the Boss wrested away from the Wamsley household wasn't easy. It took patience while the car sat under a cover in Ted's carport for the last 15 of those years. It might never have happened had Louie not had the foresight to marry Becky.

Although the Boss hails from Brownsburg, Indiana, the couple make their home in the St. Cloud, Florida, area. But, of course, the story really started in Brownsburg when Ted bought the car on July 8, 1971. Ted got himself into a Grabber Green stallion that packs the legendary Boss 351 powertrain. We say powertrain because when you bought a Boss 351 you got more than just an engine; you got a "system."

If any one Mustang in the Ford lineup was designed for drag racing, it was the Boss 351. It came only one way: HO 351 Cleveland V-8 (listed in the Ford Illustrated Facts Book), four-speed, 3.91 traction loc, along with a host of engine mods that included special aluminum intake, special 4300D spread bore carb, and mechanical lifter cam that bumped and ground air and fuel to 11.7:1 compression forged pistons as well as special exhaust manifolds that differ from the 4V units. It also carried a special balancer unique to the Boss, as well as a distributor and cast iron bell housing common to the Cobra Jet four-speed cars of 1971.

The suspension was tuned a bit differently than its 351 siblings. While competition suspension was standard, and the 4V cars got rear sway bars, the Boss got stiffer springs and a bigger rear sway bar (ala the 429 CJ) as well as the staggered rear shocks of the four-speed 351 Cobra Jet.

But that was not all. The interior of the Boss was, unless otherwise ordered, taxicab plain; the only difference was the gauges, which were standard. Ted saw fit to pick up a fairly loaded example that came equipped with a sport deck rear seat, deluxe wheel, console, and tinted glass. Other than these options there is little else to get in the way of the fun. After Louie took possession of the Boss, he made a beeline toward restoration. His goal was the Silver Springs show two years ago--he didn't make it. But he did manage to pull it all together this year, so we caught up with him and snapped these photos during the show. Although it's been a long time coming, Louie and Becky have done a super job of restoring the Boss to its original glory.