Have you ever wanted something so badly it was all you could think about? Meet Ed and LuAnn Finn of Klamath Falls, Oregon. They've wanted a Boss 302 since 1969. Life being what it is-raising a family, doing the grind, earning a living-having a Boss 302 just wasn't in the cards for a long time.
Three years ago, Ed and LuAnn decided to go after the car of their dreams. Their search began on the Internet where they discovered this Medium Red '70 Boss 302 SportsRoof in Tacoma, Washington. Tacoma is hundreds of miles from Klamath Falls-a long way across Oregon and Washington. Viewing the car-let alone buying it-wouldn't be easy.
When the Finns arrived in Tacoma to buy this Boss 302, they were told it had been sold. You can imagine their disappointment. Destiny being what it is, the buyer wigged out. Amen. They took possession and headed for home. It was a euphoric experience, a moment 35 years in the making.
Boss 302 isn't just a name late Ford stylist, Larry Shinoda, conceived for a really hot Mustang. The Boss 302 Mustang had a very specific mission rooted in SCCA Trans-Am racing. That you could buy one from Ford for the street was strictly a matter of SCCA homologation requirements. Ford had to build a specific number of streetable examples in order to compete.
Originally known as the Trans-American Sedan Championship, the Trans-Am's first race was staged at Sebring, Florida, on March 25, 1966. Mustang dominated the Trans-Am in 1966-67 with Group II sedans, but fell from grace in 1968-69 with a string of unfortunate mechanical failures and crashes. Chevrolet dominated the Trans-Am Series as a result of Ford's misfortune. Ford had a horrible season in 1968 with the 302ci Tunnel Port Mustangs, which failed with great regularity all year long.
You can imagine the frustration of one grenaded engine after another. The 302ci Tunnel Port became something of an industry joke because it failed so often. The problem was those hideous Tunnel Port heads with ridiculously high powerbands. Racers had to spin them well beyond 8,000 rpm to make power. Racers scattered 302 Tunnel Port bottom ends all over racetracks from coast to coast.
When Ford engineers tried 351C head castings on the four-bolt main 302ci Tunnel Port block, the corporation's fortunes began to change. That first year, 1969, Ford's new Boss 302 engine performed remarkably well. But a string of bad crashes are what hurt the Mustang most. In 1970, Ford went racing with a mindset to win, and did. Parnelli Jones and George Follmer in Boss 302 Mustangs went after Mark Donohue and Peter Revson in AMC Javelins, Jim Hall, Vic Elford, Milt Minter in Chevy Camaros, Sam Posey in a Dodge Challenger, and Swede Savage in a Plymouth 'Cuda. By one squeaky point, Ford took its third Trans-Am Manufacturer's title that year with the Boss 302 Mustang.
Perhaps this is why the Finns always wanted a Boss 302 Mustang. They associate the car with winning and the sheer excitement of driving a steed everyone still loves 37 years later.
You can't help but love the Boss 302. Ford's aggressive approach to styling yielded the best-looking Mustang fastback ever-the '69-'70 SportsRoof. Wrap the slippery SportsRoof body in Boss 302 graphics and give it the rich sound of a throaty, canted-valve, big-port Cleveland head small-block with mechanical lifters and you have an unbeatable ride.
It's the Boss 302 driving experience that wins us over. Goose the throttle and listen to Boss power-that sweet sound of 16 properly adjusted rocker arms thrashing out a tempo we're all familiar with. It's like the 289 High Performance V-8 on steroids. Walk back to the tailpipes and listen to the main difference from a Hi-Po-the throaty bark of Cleveland cylinder heads.
When you grab the Boss 302's Hurst shifter and roar through the gears, it's a whole different driving experience thanks to a close-ratio Ford Top Loader four-speed transmission. Because this Boss 302 has 3.91 gears, getting down to business happens quickly as it's all about power and gearing. Ford's short-lived Boss 302 engine likes to rev because that's where it makes power-up around 6,000 rpm. Tuned properly, this car makes plenty of torque with the revs up high, too. One of the first things you notice is the absence of low-end torque. Unless you're packing 3.91 or 4.30 gears, don't expect the big hole shot because the Boss 302 is about revving.
Since the Finns brought this car home three years ago, they have been researching its history. According to the Marti Report from Marti Auto Works, this Boss 302 Mustang was sold new in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its trek thereafter is sketchy at best. It sat disassembled for 20 years until it underwent a full-scale rotisserie restoration. Ed and LuAnn purchased it completely restored. All they have had to do now is drive it and take care of regular maintenance.
The Finn's Boss 302 shows some signs of wear and tear-minute signs that it is driven occasionally. There are stone chips and traces of road dust that help us understand this car's driven status. They bought it to drive and enjoy. Perhaps this tells us something about trends in the classic Ford hobby: Even meticulous concours restorations are hitting the road these days because enthusiasts want the driving experience as well as craftsmanship. This means we've come full circle, getting back to what Ford built these cars for to begin with.
'70 Mustang SportsRoof Boss 302
Owner: Ed and LuAnn Finn, Klamath Falls, OR
4.030-inch bore, 3.000-inch stroke
Forged I-beam connecting rods
290 hp at 5,800 rpm
290 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm
Mechanical camshaft with 0.477/0.477-inch valve lift and 290/290-degree Duration
2.19-inch intake valves
1.71-inch exhaust valves
780-cfm Holley 4150 carburetor
D0ZF-A dual-point/dual diaphragm Autolite distributor
Factory cast-aluminum valve covers
Close-ratio Top Loader four-speed
Factory dual-exhaust system
Factory Boss 302 Handling Package
Front: Single-piston Kelsey-Hayes disc
Front: Magnum 500, 15x7
Rear: Magnum 500, 15x7
Front: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P235/60R15
Rear: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P235/60R15
Standard black vinyl interior
Full instrumentation, including 8,000 rpm tachometer
Medium Red with Boss 302 graphics