Jerry Heasley
December 23, 2014

“You must have been shocked; somebody calls about a Boss 429 lawn mower?”

“It never started out like that,” Rick Parker said. Parker is the owner of Signature Auto Classics, also known as Boss Cars in Columbus, Ohio. “We got a call from a local fellow named Lincoln who is a maintenance supervisor for some buildings. Lincoln told me that his boss had this thing for lawn mowers. And they’ve got a big engine in a lawn mower and they wanted us to know if we could possibly identify it.” The lawn mower was 20 minutes away. Parker picked up Lincoln and the lawn mower’s owner, Michael Brauenstein.

Rick Parker stores the Boss 429 lawn mower in his shop at Signature Auto Classics in Gahanna, Ohio. He put the orange mower attachment back into position for display too.

On the drive, Brauenstein explained in the late ’80s he was gold plating lawn mowers and making custom lawn mowers for people. He told Parker he ended up doing this big trade show in Chicago, and one of the mowers he wanted to build to put on display was the world’s fastest lawn mower. They drove to a nice area of Columbus and turned into an apartment complex.

“I remember thinking, ‘This is strange. There are no garages back here,’” Parker said. They walked into an apartment building with offices to the left and to the right. “We go down the hallway and turn into this office with green carpet with no furniture and here sets this crazy, dragster/lawn mower with a big engine in it, as he described it to me.” Immediately, Parker said, “Guys, that’s a Ford Boss 429 engine.”

Parker wondered how Brauenstein came up with this Boss 429 engine. In the mid ’80s, Michael sent his fabricator to the local racetrack (probably National Trails) to buy the biggest and baddest looking engine.

As found in the office, the Boss 429 lawn mower was well preserved, but dusty. The orange lawn mower attachment was stored in another room.

He came back with a Boss 429. Parker was elated to see such nice goodies as an original Boss 429 block, aluminum cylinder heads, and magnesium valve covers, which only came on the early cars. Parker noted “HP” cast into the front of the block, indicating an original engine. There was no VIN stamping. Although Brauenstein did not want to sell the Boss 429 mower at that time, he stopped by Parker’s shop over the next few years.

“He told me at one time, ‘Rick, I’d like to donate this to you. All I ask is you put it in your building, put a nice sign on it.’ I told him ‘that’s awful kind.’ I explained to him what we did and showed him cars. I said, ‘If I would need a part off of this, that’s not fair because you would still own it. I would rather purchase it.’”

According to a 1991 newspaper article, Michael Brauenstein’s “World’s Fastest Lawn Mower” was all about making people laugh. In the background is the back wall they had to be partially remove to extricate the Boss 429 lawn mower to be able to load it on the trailer.

In April of 2014, Parker wondered why Brauenstein was not returning emails. “We sent an email to Lincoln, and Lincoln emailed back and said ‘I’m sorry to tell you that Michael [died].’” Lincoln checked with Brauenstein’s family. They agreed to sell Parker the Boss 429 lawn mower. Maintenance workers took down the back wall of the office building to extricate the vehicle.

Back at Signature Auto, Parker removed the heads to discover the Boss 429 looked brand new inside. Parker could easily sell the Boss 429 at a profit. He’s also had people try and buy the lawn mower as is. Parker has turned down those offers. “I gave Michael my word that this was something we would enjoy and stare at and customers would enjoy, so it will stay. I gave him my word that buying and selling it was not in the equation. I’m sure it will stay here for a long time.”