Mustang MonthlyFeatured Vehicles
1970 Boss 302 Mustang - Devil In A Blue Dress
Temptation on Wheels
Step By StepView Photo Gallery
We've all heard the saying made popular by comedian Flip Wilson during the 1960s: "The devil made me do it." The following is a good example of where you might hear it used.
"Mom, Dad squealed 'em three times," is the typical recounting of rubber loss diligently documented by Kent Miller's 7-year-old son, Nathan, upon returning from a ride in the family's Grabber Blue '70 Boss 302. We assume Kent just grins sheepishly and shrugs his shoulders. Whether Kent's wife, Beth, keeps a running log of tire expenses is unknown.
What young Nathan has yet to comprehend is that the Boss 302 Mustang is simply one of those exceptional automobiles that, through its own devilishly infectious vitality, can inspire even the most restrained and responsible folks to occasionally drop the hammer.
For instance, consider Parnelli Jones, an otherwise perfect gentleman. While behind the wheel of his Bud Moore Engineering-prepped No. 15 Boss 302 in the 1970 Trans-Am championship, he would become so enraptured by the Boss' impish charms that he would do things that were downright impolite. He would pass other cars on the grass or, heaven forbid, actually fender fellow gentlemen competitors clear off the racing surface on his way to securing the 1970 Trans-Am championship for Ford.
Even I admit to being hopelessly spellbound by the diabolic delights of the Boss 302 when it was introduced. In fact, had I spent less time daydreaming about owning a Boss when I was supposed to be studying in high school, I might have been able to afford to own one by now. Oh well, at least I don't have to face daily temptation...
The Millers were tempted a couple of years ago into buying their Boss in "rust-free but showing extreme wear" condition, as Kent describes it. Having previously restored a 1967 390 GTA, Kent felt comfortable doing a lot of the car’s restoration in his 24x26-foot heated garage in Sparta, Wisconsin, and doling out some of the work to the professionals as necessary.
The original engine was still in place, but missing the usual array of factory bits, such as the smog gear, exhaust manifolds, rev limiter, and carb and air cleaners. The incorrect induction components were a result of someone along the way trying to add a non-Boss shaker setup to the car. Machine Shop Services in Sparta handled the 0.030-inch-over rebuild, adding Harland Sharp roller rockers and Manley swirl-polished valves in the process. For the record, one of the few mechanical changes from the 1969 to the 1970 Boss was the reduction in size of the intake valves from a manhole-like dimension of 2.23 inches to a slightly smaller 2.19 inches, in search of a better low-end response. Nonetheless, the top of the tach is where the Boss does its best work. We're sure Kent would agree.
While the rev-happy powerplant was under reconstruction, the unibody was on the rotisserie at Pat Thibodeau's shop, where a correct nonshaker hood was fitted and any imperfections were exorcised before the little devil was re-dressed in Grab-ber Blue.
Meanwhile, Kent had acquired a copy of the Dearborn-built car's original invoice from Lois Eminger, which he used as a blueprint for the collection and assembly of all the bits and pieces as originally equipped. Interestingly, the invoice indicates the car was sold to Ford Motor Company in Newark, New Jersey (which coincides with its code 15 DSO), but was shipped on January 30, 1970, directly to Horn-Williams Ford in Dallas. The way you see the Mustang today reflects the options on the invoice: rear spoiler, Traction-Lok differential, sport slats, power steering, AM radio, tinted glass, and Magnum 500 wheels. The transmission is a wide-ratio Top Loader to complement the 3.50:1 final-drive ratio.
We think the results of Kent's 20-month restoration are as near to brand-new as possible, but if you look carefully at the rear F60x15 Polyglas in the photos, you can see that some of the tread is worn. Maybe the devil made him do it.