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This Road Trippin’ 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Drove from Colorado to Los Angeles—and Back!
A handwritten note led to one of the most interesting muscle car stories to come out of the 2018 Grand National Roadster Show. The note was spotted under the windshield of Jim Goss' 1970 Mustang Boss 429 in the historic Building 9 at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, where 100 of the finest muscle cars on the planet were displayed. The note told an almost unbelievable story:
"Yes, I drove this car from Colorado Springs. It took me 17 hours, $207 in premium fuel, 1,145 miles, and got 16.1 mpg going approximately 80 mph (no cruise control). I got the mileage from my 2.73:1 gears, 80 miles per hour at 2,800 rpm. Just don't ask to race me from a stoplight. I had a blast doing it and am enjoying the California weather."
We had to learn more.
Jim's muscle car experience started in 1984 when he traded a 1967 Ford pickup, "the first vehicle I purchased," for a 1970 Mustang Mach 1 with a 428 Cobra Jet, Ram Air, rear slats, and spoiler.
He says, "It's a cruiser with air conditioning, automatic transmission, and original 3.00:1 gears. I drove it to the 2008 All-Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which was the 45th Cobra Jet Reunion. It's a one-of-one, as it lacks the factory-installed tach."
Seven years ago Jim retired from teaching, and in June 2013 he purchased this Boss 429 to keep himself busy.
"I drove my Mach 1 up to the 34th International Mustang Meet in 2013 because I heard that there were going to be nine Boss 429s," says Jim. "I had to call the organizers about the meet, and the gentleman asked if I was interested in getting a Boss 429. I said yes. My son and I looked at one in Boston, but it needed a lot more work. I was turned on to my car in Oklahoma and purchased it."
Jim has been interested in Boss '9s for a long time. "I still have a Monogram model of the 1970 Boss 429 I got when I was a kid. The mileage on my car was approximately 21,009; now it has 35,210. My feeling on mileage is that if the car has been restored, the mileage doesn't matter. I have driven to shows in Montana, Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Texas."
Of the Mustang's history, Jim tells us, "Supposedly the third owner of the car traded a 1968 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 and $1,200 for this Boss. In 1982, the state inspection receipt shows a record of 11,815 miles. In 1983, the car sold for $25,000 and was then stored for many years. The car was reportedly restored in 2004, and went to a dealership. The fifth owner was in Greely, Colorado. Next it went to Texas, then Oklahoma. I am the seventh owner of the car, and my goal for the restoration was to make it as correct-looking as possible."
He undertook the restoration with his son and daughter. The Boss needed a lot of work. He says the paint was OK, but he still did a lot of touchups. The rear stabilizer bar was missing, and the front suspension was not only worn but incorrect too. The engine leaked oil, and "the engine compartment was all wrong," says Jim. "I had to replace many of the little things and do plenty of detailing. I still need to replace my clutch and replace a couple of parts on the engine. All of the nuts, bolts, and screws were wrong on this car. I had to repaint the trunk and put the proper pad under the top mat. The rest of the trunk required lots of detailing and a proper ground cable for the trunk-mounted battery."
The interior needed both door panels replaced, repairs to both front seats, extensive rewiring behind the dash, and a new rear deck panel. "The headliner is the only thing I haven't replaced or fixed," he says. "With everything I have done, I suspect the previous owner used it as a parts car."
Jim notes that most Boss 429s are identical except for exterior color. The 1970 models had some other differences, including white interiors, a rev limiter, and a Hurst shifter. His desire was to have a Grabber color with a white Deluxe interior.
He says, "They built 272 in Grabber Blue, 210 with white interiors. According to the Marti Report, my car was built on September 9, 1969, released on the September 18, 1969, and sold to its first owner on March 18, 1970. On my Deluxe Marti Report the window sticker was blank, so I called Kevin Marti and asked why. He said because it was an early 1970 car, the 22nd one built, Ford hadn't decided yet what to charge the public for these cars."
The engine in Jim's Boss 429 is essentially stock with the 10.5:1 compression ratio. Jim runs premium fuel and backed the timing off 2 degrees. "This helps a bunch with the pinging," he says. The transmission is the original close-ratio Top Loader. He installed 2.73 gears in the 9-inch rearend that allow him to cruise at 80 mph at 2,800 rpm.
"When I go to the drags I put in 5 gallons of 110 racing fuel, advance the timing, and install 4.11s. My best time is 14.91 at 97.2 mph. This is with street tires and at an altitude of 4,692 feet at Pueblo Motorsports Park.
"Another goal this summer is to build a set of 4.30s—that was Ford's lowest gears they would install—and hit the track again. I change the 9-inch by myself, and it takes about three hours just taking my time and using a floor jack. I do all the work on my own."
Jim has a blast driving to events and showing his car, and the trip to the Grand National Roadster Show in January was no exception. When we talked to him about doing a story on his return trip to Colorado, we suggested that he photograph the car at each gas stop, thinking that would involve six or more stops. This turned out not to be the case.
Jim wanted to get an early start for his trip back, hoping to do it without an overnight stop. We met early on the Monday after the show at a 7-Eleven in Fontana, just off Interstate 15 east of Los Angeles. We hoped to shoot at dawn at the Summit Inn, 20 minutes north, but since it burned down in the 2016 Blue Cut fire, it didn't afford us much of a photo opportunity. Instead, we took some detail photos, then headed north to Victorville, where we expected a classic Denny's, but it had been leveled. There was an abandoned motel nearby with a dinosaur standing guard. Here we grabbed a car/owner portrait, and right after, Jim topped off his tank at the nearby Mobil station and headed home.
A week later we reconnected with Jim. He'd had an uneventful drive back to Colorado Springs. He made just four additional stops for fuel: in Kingman, Arizona (235 miles); Winslow, Arizona (204 miles); Albuquerque, New Mexico (264 miles); and Raton, New Mexico (232 miles). Because our photo shoot didn't end until midmorning, we delayed Jim long enough that he spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express in Las Vegas, New Mexico, before arriving back in Colorado Springs at 11 a.m. Tuesday. The return trip covered 1,150 miles, averaging a marginally better 16.5 mpg.
At a Glance
1970 Mustang Boss 429
Owned by: Jim Goss, Colorado Springs, CO
Restored by: Jim, Jared, and Brianne Goss
Engine: 429ci/375hp V-8
Transmission: Ford close-ratio Top Loader 4-speed manual
Rearend: Ford 9-inch with 2.73 gears and TractionLok
Interior: White vinyl bucket seat
Wheels: 15x7 factory Magnum 500
Tires: P235/60R15 BFGoodrich Radial T/A
The Gas Stops
In the muscle car hierarchy, a 1969-1970 Mustang Boss 429 is a special car. Its development and production have been covered many times and are beyond the scope of this story. Jim, in his post-trip conversation with us, had this to say:
But from January 1969 to December 1969, when 1,458 were built (859 for 1969, 499 for 1970), the Kar Kraft-built Boss 429 Mustangs put an exclamation point on Ford's era of Total Performance.