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.

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Perkins describes this drop as due to classic Mustangs selling for $100,000 (prior to 2009) when they were $50,000 cars. Now, these “average cars are bringing what they should bring.”

When the market jumps up, prices for top cars do tend to bring up the prices on average cars. How much have prices dropped since Waydo’s time frame of 2009?

That’s what our price guide is for. Right away, Waydo clarified that the ’65 through ’68 Mustangs have seen little change in price over the last 3-4 years. He says these models, in all body styles, have dropped about 15 percent. The one exception is the big-block Mustangs from ’67-’68, which have suffered more of a drop in value.

The Mustang market is down from the hey-days of the mid-2000s when Ed Meyer sold a ’69 Boss 429 for $605,000 at Barrett-Jackson.

Looking at our guide, a #1 condition Boss 351 is $65,000 range

In my research, I’ve noticed prices go up on collector cars over the long term, meaning decades. However, in the short term, say 3-4 years, prices move up and down. When they move back up, collectors are more educated and pick better cars, leaving lesser cars to flounder and the better cars to soar even higher.

Since late 2009, classic (1964½ to 1973) Mustang prices on the majority type cars have dropped, more or less, while select Thoroughbred Mustangs have gone up and set world records. If history repeats, prices will eventually recover and go up and above the tops we have seen so far. Time will tell when. Until then, collectors who want a specific first generation Mustang should consider taking advantage of today’s market.


Condition ratings

1: Fully restored, which describes a Best of Show at a large Mustang car show. The undercarriage and engine compartment have been restored and detailed to like-new. Some original cars fit in this category, but they are merely detailed and have not been restored.

2: Fully restored or a detailed original, as #1 above, but there is evidence of wear. The undercarriage and engine compartment have been detailed but have flaws.

3: Partially restored or an excellent original. The body, paint, and interior look sharp. The engine is cleaned up. The casual observer will see no fault with these Mustangs.

4: Unrestored or an older restoration showing a lot of wear. The seats will show obvious wear, such as rips. The casual observer will readily find fault with these Mustangs but the car is presentable.

5: Unrestored and showing major wear. These cars are still drivable but need major work.

Appraisal Suggestions

Notice that no matter the rated condition of a vehicle, this guide cannot price Mustangs that are either incomplete or rusty. Incomplete cars, then, are worth the charted value minus the cost of parts and labor to replace what is missing. Likewise, rusty cars are worth the charted value minus the cost of parts and labor to repair the rust, if that is possible. Often this cost can run more than the value of the car.

Also notice that restored cars have both undercarriage and engine compartment detailing. Therefore, partially restored cars that have been fixed up, such as with new interior and paint, cannot therefore rate either a #1 or #2 condition code. The value of these Mustangs begins with #3.

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1973 Mustang Value Table
As you’d expect, the mid-year ’681⁄2 Cobra Jet Mustang GTs are valued higher than their 390 counterparts. A fastback in #1 condition is valued at $75,000. Rarer convertible models are valued up to $200,000.