Unveiling the World’s Only 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 302, Recovered After 25 Years

The 2023 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) included a historical moment for Ford Mustang fans. The event saw the public unveiling of the only factory-built 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 302, a car that’s been found and restored after missing for 25 years.

1971 Ford Mustang Boss 302 10 photos

Photo: Jerry Heasley/YouTube

The Boss 302 story began in 1969 when the track-prepped pony arrived in showrooms for homologation purposes. Introduced alongside the Boss 429, the Boss 302 enabled Ford to keep racing the Mustang in the SCCA Trans-Am series. It became a rival for the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 on both the race track and public roads.

Styled by Larry Shinoda, the Boss 302 broke cover with a unique appearance package, including stripes, a front spoiler, and a rear deck wing. Both the suspension setup and the 302-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) V8 were specific to this car. The Boss 302 wasn’t the most potent 1969 Mustang at 290 horsepower, but it was pretty nimble and notably lighter than the big-block cars.

Ford failed to beat Chevrolet in the SSCA series, but the Boss 302 remained in production for the 1970 model year. The vehicle was redesigned to incorporate then-new Mustang features, including headlamps mounted at the edges of the grille and flanked by horizontal inlets, and hockey stick-style stripes.

Ford sold 1,628 units in 1969, a tiny fraction of total Mustang sales that year. Deliveries soared to 7,014 the following, but the Boss 302 remains a rare classic.

The official story is that Ford discontinued the Boss 302 at the end of 1970 and that the badge wasn’t revived until 2012. But while there was no Boss 302 in 1971, Ford actually had plans for one. And it went as far as designing and building a prototype.

The project got canceled at the last minute as Ford went with a larger mill and a “Boss 351” badge, but the one-off 1971 Boss 302 survived to tell the story. Forgotten for decades and presumably lost for about 25 years, this unique piece of Boss history is alive and kicking thanks to noted Mustang expert Bob Perkins.

Having seen the car on public display at MCACN 2023, it’s time to check it out up close and personal, thanks to Jerry Heasley, who visited Perkins and discussed the vehicle’s history, unique features, and restoration process.

Perkins explains that even though the Mustang was completed with minor upgrades under the hood and correct Boss 302 decals, the car wasn’t actually displayed in its original configuration. The yellow fastback did get a spotlight at the Ford Dealer Announcement Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but it was shown with Boss 351 markings. The engine under the hood, though, remained unchanged.

While largely similar to the 302 V8 found in the 1970 version, the latter featured a few all-new parts and some components from the 1971 429-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) Super Cobra Jet. That’s not the only thing unique about this car. It’s also the only Boss 302 with chrome exhaust tips, and it shares the honeycomb rear fascia panel and gas cap with the Mach 1. The Boss 351 did not get these items.

The Mustang has been meticulously restored to factory specifications by Bob Perkins over five years. It’s a lot of time for any classic, but you can see why it took Bob so long to finish it. This thing is flawless inside and out and as original as possible.

This Boss 302 is that much more spectacular, given that it went missing for around 25 years before Andrew Hack found it. And fortunately enough, he agreed to sell it to Mr. Perkins, who completed his Mustang Boss collection by restoring it. Find out more about this unique ‘Stang in the video below.

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