1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 & 429

The front-heavy Boss 429 required sheetmetal and suspension alterations to make it fit. See more classic car pictures.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

As if five all-new Ford Mustangs weren't enough when the 1969 model year began, Ford had two additional ideas in mind, the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 and 429. The twin "Bosses," each introduced later, proved to be some of the most remarkable Mustangs of the "ponycar's" entire life span.

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Had Henry Ford II not hired Semon E. "Bunkie" Knudsen away from General Motors early in 1968, to become company president, the whole "Boss" episode might never have occurred. Knudsen felt that a super-hot small-block soon would be needed to compete against Chevrolet's Camaro Z-28. A street version of the racing Mustang that had torn up Trans-Am courses sounded like just the ticket.

Besides that, Ford had come up with a 429-cid V-8 that it needed to homologate for NASCAR competition. Now wouldn't that make a nice trophy under a few hundred roadgoing Mustang hoods? Two cars -- two engines -- two different personalities.

In addition to his contribution toward this year's new SportsRoof fastback body, stylist Larry Shinoda -- hired by Ford along with Knudsen -- earns credit for the "Boss" name. The big Boss came first, in mid-January, wearing a monstrous Ram-Air hood scoop and front spoiler, with chubby F60 x 15 Goodyear Polyglas tires pounding the pavement.

Kin to the 429-cid V-8 aimed at NASCAR, the "semi-hemi" engine was built for toughness, with four-bolt mains and a forged steel crankshaft. A 735-cfm Holley four-barrel straddled the high-riser manifold. Cylinder heads were aluminum, with cast magnesium covers.

Some early engines had hydraulic lifters, until solid tappets became standard. Even Ford admitted that the 375-bhp official rating was understated. Torque output was listed at 450 pounds/feet. Whatever the actual figures, a Boss 429 could accelerate to 60 mph in as little as 5.3 seconds (or as slowly as 7.2), running the quarter in just over 14 and hitting 102 mph.

Extensive metalwork was required to squeeze in the bulky 429. Kar Kraft of Brighton, Michigan, did the custom work, which included widening spring towers, installing shorter upper control arms, and lowering the suspension. Staggered shocks and a "clamp-on" stabilizer bar were installed at the rear. Eschewing flashiness, Boss 429s wore no striping but carried a black spoiler and grille.

Mandatory options (heavy-duty four-speed, 3.91:1 locking axle, manual-disc brakes) jacked up the Boss's $3,498 base price by another $1,300. No more than 858 went on sale, making it one of the rarest Mustangs of the lot.

Learn about the improved and better-selling 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 on the next page.

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1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Bodyside striping on the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 included a 'Boss 302' on the leading edge.
Bodyside striping on the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 included a 'Boss 302' on the leading edge.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Ford built the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 on its own, without outside help but following a Kar Kraft prototype, sending the result to showrooms in March 1969. Car and Driver called it "easily the best Mustang yet ... the best handling Ford to ever come out of Dearborn." Road & Track later described a Boss 302 as "delightfully sporting when driven hard."

Priced at a more modest $3,588 (nearly $1,000 higher than a base Mustang), the Boss 302 wore a deeper front "chin" spoiler than its big-block counterpart and could be ordered with an adjustable wing rear spoiler for $19. High-back bucket seats added $84. Distinctive rear-window louvers ($128), hinged at the top, helped give the smaller Boss a look all its own.

Despite the advertised figure of 290 horsepower, the 302-cid small-block V-8 undoubtedly delivered a whole lot more. Estimates ranged as high as 400 bhp. Running on 10.5:1 compression, the engine carried Cleveland heads and 2.23-inch intake valves, an aluminum high-riser manifold with 780-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor, and aluminum rocker covers. Low-restriction headers fed large-diameter dual exhausts.

Ford's wide-ratio four-speed went into early 302s, with a high-capacity 10.4-inch clutch-eventually augmented by a Hurst shifter. Suspension tweaks included stiffer springs and staggered rear shocks. Specially flared wheel openings were needed to accommodate the fat Goodyear F60 x 15 Polyglas rubber, which rode seven-inch Magnum 500 wheels. The "Daytona" rear axle incorporated a standard 3.50:1 ratio, but could also get a 3.91:1 or 4.30:1 cog.

Matte black paint highlighted the hood, rear deck, and outer headlight area. Bodyside striping included a "Boss 302" designation on the leading edge.

Although the factory claimed a 0-60 time of 6.0 seconds, actual Boss 302 tests proved a mite slower: 6.5 seconds and up. Quarter-mile times went into the mid-14s, with speeds in the upper 90s. Only 1,934 were built in 1969.

Both Bosses continued into 1970, when 6,318 Boss 302s and about 498 of the 429s were produced. The 302 was billed as "Son of Trans-Am," even though -- as fortune dictated -- Chevrolet's Camaro had emerged victorious in Trans-Am racing.

See the specifications for the 1969 Ford Mustang 302 and 429 on the next page.

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1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 & 429 Specifications

The Boss 302 engine was accused of producing more than its rated 290 bhp.
The Boss 302 engine was accused of producing more than its rated 290 bhp.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 and 409 topped off the many new Mustang creations of 1969.

Specifications

Engines: ohv V-8; Boss 302: 302 cid (4.00 x 3.00), 290 bhp; Boss 429: 429 cid (4.36 x 3.59), 360/375 bhp

Transmission: 4-speed manual

Suspension front: upper arms, strut-stabilized lower arms, coil springs, anti-sway bar

Suspension rear: live axle, leaf springs, anti-sway bar (429)

Brakes: front discs/rear drums

Wheelbase (in.): 108.0

Weight (lbs.): 3,210+

Top speed (mph): Boss 302: 118-133; Boss 429: 115-130+

0-60 mph (sec): Boss 302: 6.5-8.1; Boss 429: 5.3-7.2

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