What's Up With Boss 429s?
A World Record Price At Barrett-Jackson For A '69 Boss 429 Stirs Up The Market
This past January, Ed Meyer set a world record when his '69 Boss 429 brought $605,000 at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. With only 1,358 Boss 429s produced-859 in 1969 and 499 in 1970-this special Mustang is rare, but not as rare other musclecars. The record price on Ed's '69 has stirred considerable interest amongst owners and enthusiasts around the world.
People are asking what makes the Boss 429 so valuable, particularly Ed's concours example. Was this '69 some sort of special variant? Did it have an S-motor with the NASCAR-type crank, rods, and pistons? Was it a T-code or A-code 429? Did the engine type matter above and beyond that it was an exotic racing Hemi with aluminum heads?
For answers, we went to the recognized Boss 429 gurus: Bob Perkins and Ed. We ran into Ed in June at the '07 Mid-America Ford & Shelby Performance Meet in Tulsa.
Ed told us the well-known facts: The fastbacks came with special 429 Hemi engines that were designed for making NASCAR power, not for installation in a Mustang. They should have gone into larger Fairlanes, but Bunkie Knudsen, the new president of Ford, wanted to give the Mustang a performance boost, especially since Camaro was coming out with an all-aluminum 427 ZL1 option and Plymouth would soon put its '70 'Cuda on the road with a 426 Hemi.
The Boss 429 was Ford's new engine for NASCAR competition. To homologate the Hemi-headed powerplant, Ford had to offer at least 500 units for public purchase in a regular production automobile. The Mustang required special engineering to fit the aluminum-headed big-blocks. Kar Kraft, the same outside shop Ford hired to build Thunderbolts in the early '60s, set up a special assembly line in Brighton, Michigan, to turn out Boss 429s. It was there that Kar Kraft completed the assembly and installed the engine with its hemispherical combustion chambers (actually a semi-hemi design), big valves, and a bulletproof bottom end.
Was the $605,000 a fluke? Actually, much less talked about is the $489,500 that another Boss 429 brought at the same auction. Others sold at B-J in the $250,000 range, which is nearly the amount our research shows a concours Boss 429 is worth today.
George Waydo from K.A.R., a classic-Mustang retailer in Columbus, Ohio, told us about a Pastel Blue Boss 429 that was recently offered to him for $175,000. He asked Rick Parker, a dealer at Signature Auto Classics in Columbus. In George's opinion, Rick is more familiar with Boss Mustangs and felt the market was $175,000 to $190,000 on this particular car. George believes the market on a "nice Boss 429" is $190,000 to $195,000. Prices vary according to condition and the number of original parts. Rick recently sold a Boss 429 for $157,000-after the record sale.
We asked different enthusiasts at the Tulsa Mid-America Shelby Meet for their opinion on the $605,000 Boss 429. The consensus was the price at B-J was not, as one collector said, "the real world."
Ed restored his early-production Boss 429 for the '07 B-J auction after reading an '06 interview with Craig Jackson, one of the principals in the auction. According to him, the Boss 429s were undervalued compared to the Hemi 'Cudas and ZL1 Camaros. For the record, a '69 ZL1 Camaro brought more than $1 million; a '71 Hemi 'Cuda convertible brought $3 million. Prices would surely go up, and Ed figured 2007 would be the year of the Boss 429.
Bob has long thought of the Boss 429 as the ultimate in Mustang muscle. He's been collecting and restoring these cars for decades, and when we talked to him in June, he had just bought a 4,000-mile original Boss 429. In addition to being knowledgeable, he's also opinionated when the subject turns to Boss 429s or "Boss-Nines," as the cognoscenti frequently abbreviate their most cherished Mustang.