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Boss 429 - '9 Lives
Barry Bergmann brought this Boss 429 back from the brink
We imagine that if this had been a Mustang any less rare and iconic than a '69 Boss 429, it would long ago have been melted down and reconstituted into some mundane appliance-like maybe a Chevy. Back in the dreadful days of disco, this Royal Maroon muscle car was already festering away in a Tennessee salvage yard, where it was discovered and rescued from imminent recycling by a Canadian Ford enthusiast and collector named Don Henderson, who then hauled it back to his place in southwestern Ontario. That's where current owner, Barry Bergmann, first saw its accident-damaged carcass in the late '70s while searching out parts for another Mustang he was then restoring. This was in fact the very first Boss 429 Barry had ever laid eyes upon, though it had no drivetrain and he admits that, at the time: "It didn't look like much." Still, he wanted KK #1885, though it would be many years before he'd own it.
Originally sold through East Tennessee Motors in Knoxville-a sponsor of many NASCAR Grand National Fords back in the day-this Kar Kraft-assembled street warrior had survived the twin threats of a serious collision and the market-altering fuel crises, but its troubles weren't over yet. As Barry tells it, sometime around 1988, Don Henderson finally made a deal to have a shop do all the body and paintwork on the rescued Boss-and there was plenty necessary-in exchange for a '71 429 Mach 1. But partway through that restoration, Mr. Henderson got a midnight phone call warning that said body shop was about to be shut down and locked up by the sheriff, prompting an oh-dark-thirty scramble to retrieve the beleaguered Boss.
Safely back in the Henderson compound, and still only a partially restored shell, the special SportsRoof then sat for many more years as Don went through the time-consuming-and expensive-process of gathering the necessary parts to make it whole again. That included having to locate a period-correct engine and transmission, which he eventually did. In the meantime, he had acquired a couple of '70 Boss 429s that also needed work. Unfortunately, before he could complete any of these Boss projects, Don passed away sometime around 1997.
A year or so later, Bergmann approached Don's son and expressed an interest in buying #1885-a proposal that was accepted, but only on the condition that he buy all three Boss 429s and associated parts in the Henderson collection. Being a man of ordinary means, Barry certainly couldn't do it himself, so he did the next best thing and set about finding a consortium of Blue Oval buddies to pool their resources to do the deal. This certainly didn't happen overnight, but in May of 1999, Barry and two FoMoCo-fanatic friends took possession of this rag-tag assortment of big-block Bosses, each one laying claim to a car and whatever loose parts belonged to it.
Barry, of course, opted for the '69 and got down to work. Luckily, he has a friend, Dave Moniz, who is a real body whiz, so that portion of the restoration was assigned to him. It was decided he would strip the shell down to bare metal again since neither of them knew exactly what the other shop had accomplished. Body and paint took the better portion of a year. Meanwhile, Barry had to assemble the Shotgun Blue Crescent 429 acquired with the car, as it had come as nothing more than a loose collection of correct parts. "It looked like an Ertl model," jokes Barry.
Blasting and refinishing the drivetrain and suspension hardware consumed many more hours, and he also had to hunt down and purchase all the other missing components, including much of the interior trim and other "soft parts" without which a car can never look finished. Fortunately, he had received most of the staggeringly expensive Boss-specific components with the car.
Barry wasn't in a particular hurry, as his only goal was to have his Boss-one of 122 finished in Royal Maroon for '69-ready for the Mustang's 40th Anniversary event in Nashville in April, 2004. He made it and has been showing KK #1885 in MCA's Concours Trailered class ever since, gathering awards along the way and getting a lot of exercise from pushing the Boss on and off the trailer, since it has been without fluids (other than essential lubricants) for over six years now.
Someday, Barry will tire of the show circuit, fill that radiator, turn the key, and give new life to this predatory ponycar that has been dormant since the 1970s. All things considered, that will be the ultimate form of recycling.
The Way It WasA fairly late build, KK #1885 was released to East Tennessee Motors on June 24, 1969, equipped as follows:
- SportsRoof base price 2,740.00
- 429 4V Cobra Jet HO 1,208.35
- Front spoiler 13.05
- Trunk-mounted 85-amp battery 32.44
- High-back bucket seats 84.25
- 4-spd. (close-ratio) manual 253.92
- Traction-Lok differential 63.51
- Visibility Group 11.16
- Console 53.82
- Power Steering 94.95
- Power front discs 64.77
- Interior d-cor group -- deluxe 120.48
- AM radio 61.40
- Deluxe belts/warning light 15.59
- Color-keyed racing mirrors 19.48
- Competition suspension 30.64
- Total Options: 2,127.81
- Transportation 72.20
- Total: 4,940.01