Mustang MonthlyFeatured Vehicles
'71 Ford Mustang Boss - The Lost Boss
Ford Never Built A '71 Boss 302, Right? You Might Reconsider After Learning The History Of Andrew Hack's '71 Fastback
Following the invoice trail, we know that Andrew's fastback was built on August 3, 1970, sold to Ford's Los Angeles Marketing division, and shipped directly from Dearborn to the then-new Las Vegas Convention Center for an introductory auto show. Subsequent rebilling and credit invoices, the first one dated December 23, 1970, show the car with a Boss 351 VIN, 1F02R100053. However, on February 15, 1971, a Ford Communications memo was issued to J.J. Flak at Dearborn Assembly, stating, "We have one of your original show units which must be changed before it can be sold." It also includes instructions to remove the Boss trim and change the windshield and patent plates from VIN 1F02G100053, with "302 Boss" penciled in, to 1F02H100053. The assumption is that the Boss engine was replaced at this point with an H-code 351 two-barrel, although it's uncertain whether the changes occurred at Wilson Ford in Los Angeles or at the Dearborn Assembly Plant.
Marti's production data shows that 1F02H100053 was the only '71 Mustang with a 351 two-barrel engine and four-speed.
Through a vehicle history request from the California DMV, Andrew was able to locate the original owner in San Francisco, a lady who had purchased the car from Wilson Ford in Huntington Beach, California, in March 1971. "She said she had seen the car in the showroom months earlier but was told that it was a 'special '70-1/2 vehicle' and wasn't for sale," Andrew says. "She kept bugging the dealer, and they finally called to say they had received the go-ahead to sell the car to her. She drove the Mustang every day for 28 years, repainting it once before finally selling it in 1999 at the urging of a boyfriend who feared the car was no longer reliable."
Andrew now finds himself in the awkward predicament of deciding what to do with the Mustang. If he restores it, should he try to replicate the car as a '71 Boss 302, or should he take it back to the way it was sold at Wilson Ford? Or should he simply leave it as-is, door dings, double data stickers, and all?
Either way, it looks as though Andrew's "fun driver" is now destined for a life of seldom-driven preservation.
More '71 Boss 302 Evidence
There's no doubt that Ford was planning to build a '71 Boss 302, right up to the point that early production press cars were provided to magazines, at least for photography purposes. This '71 Boss 302 appeared in Motor Trend's summer 1970 new car issue. Uncertain if the car actually had a Boss 302 engine, Mustang Monthly Senior Editor Jim Smart dug into the old Petersen Publishing photo archives to find the original negatives. Among them included this shot of a Boss 302 engine in the '71 engine compartment.
Is This the Same Car?
You've likely seen this photo, or one of several variations, of a Grabber Yellow '71 Boss 351. For years, these Ford photos have been used in magazines and books to illustrate the car. Yet, upon inspection, you'll notice that it sits lower than production Boss 351s, and it has a number of nonproduction items, such as the Mag Star wheels, a pinstripe at the top of the rear panel, and a flat hood without scoops (all Boss 351s came with Ram-Air) or hood pins. Although hard to see in this photo, on some of the pictures you can see that the Boss 351 lettering is somewhat irregular: The 5 and 1 are spaced differently.
Because the car was photographed in the desert, Andrew speculates that his Mustang may have been used for the photography after the Las Vegas auto show, with the Boss 302 lettering changed to Boss 351, either on the car or on the photos. Another clue: The rear pinstripes are still on Andrew's car, but you can't readily see them because they were covered when the car was repainted by its original owner.