Jerry Heasley
October 29, 2012

Editor’s note: Jerry Heasley has been researching and writing collector car value guides since 1976. He wrote the first comprehensive value guide for Mustangs in 1982 and updated it frequently through the year 2000. He has written other Mustang value guides since then, along with books about musclecar prices.

“I just sold a ’71 Boss 351 for $200,000,” Bob Perkins told me. This had to be a world’s record for a Boss 351, even though prices on many classic Mustangs appear to be down since their high three to four years ago. I could find Boss 351s, presumably restored, even Mustang Club of America concours gold winners, advertised at a third of this figure. What’s going on?

The $200,000 Boss 351 had 800 miles and special-order paint, which led Perkins to say, “The good stuff is bringing as much as it ever did or more. It’s just that there’s been an adjustment on cars with average workmanship and reproduction parts. That’s a majority of the Mustang population.”

The world record price jogged my memory about another record, the $605,000 price paid in January of 2007 for Ed Meyer’s ’69 Boss 429 at Barrett-Jackson in Arizona. I was there to watch the car cross the block.

Ford produced well over one million Mustangs during the ’641⁄2-’66 model years. There are still plenty available, which keeps prices down.

Meanwhile, a good unrestored Boss 429 of Thoroughbred status, meaning OEM parts, is in the $400,000 range

So what is a Boss 429 worth today? Perkins said an “average good one,” such as an MCA trailered concours gold Boss 429 in which “all the trick parts can be reproduction,” brings about $250,000. Meanwhile, a good unrestored Boss 429 of Thoroughbred status, meaning OEM parts, is in the $400,000 range. Perkins backed this figure up with a recent real-world offer of $400,000 for a 4,000-mile, unrestored Boss 429 in the popular color of red.

A #1 condition Mustang can be loaded up with reproduction parts and still win MCA gold. In contrast, MCA Thoroughbred cars can be either restored, in which case they also have more dollars (say $50,000) invested in the workmanship, plus say $25,000 to $100,000 extra in the hard-to-get (or almost impossible to get) OEM parts. Or these Thoroughbred Mustangs can be unrestored, in which case certain ultra-low-mileage examples of high originality can fetch a multiple of the Thoroughbred restored values.

Looking at our guide, a #1 condition Boss 351 is $65,000. Double this figure for Thoroughbred and add for ultra low miles to arrive at a ballpark figure on the world record price.

“Anybody can restore one,” Perkins said. “That’s what the big collectors are starting to realize. So what’s the next big thing? Well, it’s the unrestored stuff.”

Knowing this vital information helps us understand the wide swings in prices for what most would assume were similar fully restored cars. Now we can move on to the “majority of the population” of Mustangs.

Because of their rarity (only 562 built) and history as the first Shelby Mustang, ’65 G.T. 350s are valued much higher than standard Mustang fastbacks, even those with the 289 Hi-Po engine.

A Boss 302 is worth $75,000, restored, with a Shaker. If the Boss 302 were a Thoroughbred with the correct OEM parts, the price could go up $50,000, which would include, say, $25,000 for the extra workmanship and $25,000 for the OEM parts, making the total $125,000. Ultra low-mile examples could bust a world’s record.

In the Thoroughbred world, “trailered concours” doesn’t mean much. Collectors with unlimited funds don’t care so much about cost as having the best in the world.

In today’s market for the “majority of the population” classic Mustangs, there’s no question prices have dropped in the last three or four years. The economy had been riding a crazy real estate boom. The bubble burst in late 2008. When it did, collector car prices didn’t tumble right away. Word back then was that old cars were a good investment when stocks and real estate tanked. Classic Mustang prices held up even though the economy collapsed. Eventually, collector car prices also fell, but not across the board on classic Mustangs.

As Perkins verified, good cars are bringing more than ever. For an outlook on the more bread and butter classics, I talked with George Waydo, owner of K.A.R. in Columbus, Ohio.

Waydo knows the mainstream classic Mustang market probably better than anybody in the country. Before boom went bust, he was one of the premier retail sellers of vintage Mustangs. Today, he has pared back his inventory due to the slow down. He pegs mid to late 2009 as the time frame when prices started tumbling.

Hardest hit, Waydo says, were the “more expensive cars,” primarily the Shelbys, Bosses, and Cobra Jets.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery