The 1969 Boss 302 Factory Race Car That Wasn’t Factory (But Hey, it was still a genuine Boss….)
A guest article by Wallace Wyss
Note: all photos shown are of the actual Trans Am race car.
One of the dreams of vintage racers who like American iron is that they will come across a Trans Am car, one of the hard charging cars of the mid-to late ‘60s that raced in the Trans Am series which saw Pontiac, Chevrolet, Ford and Chrysler cars neck and neck at races across US and Canada.
So when Phil Roberts found a 1969 Trans Am Boss 302 race car in an auto repair shop back in the 1980s he thought he hit the jackpot. The car was a purported race car, raced in the SCCA A-sedan series sometime in the early ‘70s (note; at a point when Ford was already out of sponsoring Trans Am racing) and then converted to half race and half street car. At the time Roberts found it , the car no longer had a Boss 302 engine , instead a much weaker 351W. Plus it had a horrid purple fur on the dash (go figure!) junkyard wheels and a general beat up, rode hard an put away wet look. But the price was right–$975. And as it happened Phil owned a Shelby/Mustang restoration shop in Phoenix. He eventually spent another $42,000 on the car to make it just like the factory Trans-Am cars of the late ‘60s, stripping the body, mating an 8-point Bud Moore Engineering roll cage to it, installing a nine inch Ford rear end with a Detroit Locker with 4.3l gears, adjustable Konis, heavier springs, and Kelsey Hayes Lincoln front discs with K-H rear discs as well.
He put in a proper 302 actually displacing 305 cu. inches, with a Bud Moore intake carrying a 750 cfm Holley now flowing to 1020 cfm. All his mods got it up to 460 hp. The trans was a Ford top loader with Hurst linkage. Suffice to say that the car was gone through and painted to look like the red and white Mustang Clubs racing team Boss 302 that raced in 1969. It has since been raced in vintage racing.
I did a little research and Dennis Begley, on a site called TheCarSource.com says the factory backed Mustangs raced during the ’69 season were shipped from the factory as 4-speed, 351 Fastbacks, not as Bosses. Begley wrote that a change in the SCCA rules allowed the fastback body to be raced, prior to this only the notchback coupes could be used.(When Shelby got the Mustang sanctioned for racing he did it with Fastbacks with no back seats, therefore coupes had to be raced since the rules required a back seat in the production cars.) The race cars were started in late ’68, even though production cars weren’t scheduled until April ’69. Seven Mustangs ordered from Dearborn, stripped with no paint on December 3, 1968. A month later they were shipped. The serial numbers on the factory race cars, according to Begley, were 9F02M148623 to 148629. They were sold to Ford Administrative Services for $2,411 each. The prototype Trans-Am Mustangs were originally 428 Mach 1’s, these seven were basic 351 4 barrel fastbacks with 4 speeds. One car went to Kar Kraft. Three went to Shelby American and the last three went to Bud Moore. (The Moore team raced Mercury Cougars in 67 & 68 but the Cougars were dropped for 1969.) The cars were all stripped and rebuilt to the specifications used on the prototype Trans-Am Mustang at Kar Kraft.
After all this work, business was in a slump so he sold it to Mike Beamish who bought the car without the driveline, radiator, wheels, seat and fuel cell. But Beamish added his own ingredients. In 2009 he put up the car for sale for $35,000. He described it as follows on the Boss 302 forum:
“It is a Parnelli (referring to Rufus “Parnelli” Jones, legendary Ford racer) tribute car in 1969 Bud Moore colors. The car has all the correct suspension with Lincoln discs up front and Mustang discs on a full floater rear. It has a correct Watts link. New ATL 15 gallon Fuel cell, 2 sets of new Mini-lites, 1 new set of Hoosier tires, new Konis, new road race seat seat and cam-loc belts. The car is a roller less motor but includes an R302 block, Bryant billett crank, 70 b302 heads, a virgin, nos uncut Bud Moore mini-plenum. Has an aluminum radiator with a second spare. The car was built with a fiberglass hood and rear bumper and there is a new spare hood.This car has 2 log books and has been featured in 10 magazine articles. Phil competed in the West Coast Historic Trans Am races in the 80’s but it has no T/A history. Many spares. Phil told me he used Rick Rodeck as a consultant on this build Also included are 2 complete rear end gear sets (3:70 & 4:11 N-case) , both w/lockers (31 spline) gundrilled axles, Quartermaster Bellhousing w/153 tooth flywheel( cup style) 3 disc 7 1/4″ clutch , hydraulic t-o bearing, a Tex t101 transmission (clutchless- 1 race old from Hendrick), Long rail shifter and new steel driveshaft. 1 set of older Boss headers and a set of Windsor headers. This is a well sorted very neutral race car. This is a neat hot rod I can no longer afford to own. This car is not a trailer queen but a vintage race car with proper patina. Always draws a crowd at racing events. My primary business is race cars and fabrication and business is terrible at best.”
Ah, the price of honesty. He admitted things and had to drop the price to $30,000 (which is why you should always check back on ads for cars that were once too high priced). He re-iterated the SN was 9F02G189114. and added in his ad that It has an “SCCA” logbook and a “VSCDA” logbook, which are important things to have because it shows it has been a race car in the past and some vintage race organizations are limiting entry to those that were in fact race cars back “in period” not modern street cars converted to look like old race cars.
The car was eventually sold to Norway, where there is a fanatical group of enthusiasts who don’t like European buzzbombs but American cars, and they like them both LOUD and FAST.
So the real irony of this story is the Ford-sponsored Boss 302s raced in Trans Am didn’t really start out life as Boss 302 cars. But before you say “but the car you’re talking about here is still just a clone of a famous race car” you’re right about that , but the car’s saving grace is that it has in fact a genuine G-series serial number meaning it is a real Boss 302 and in the time since Roberts first bought it, the price of Boss 302s has quadrupled so even as a stock Boss 302 it would be worth $100,000 (even if the block doesn’t have the number it came with). But as a ready-to-race Trans am car, it has to be worth more according to Richard Fleener, a recognized expert in muscle car values.
Why would even a clone be worth so much? Because look at the ingredients. It costs a lot to take a street car and make it into a racer and this car is already done. Ironically back when he first bought it, the Monterey Historics hadn’t embraced Trans Am cars yet. But now that they have, the Trans-Am category is one of the hottest categories to run in, so the fact it is ready to race is a real plus—not that many associations are going to forbid it because it is a clone of a factory racer.
The lesson for barn finders to be learned here? It’s all in the DNA baby. The fact that it was a real Boss 302 still made it a good buy at under $1000. Once you have targeted the type and model of car you want, you have to be able to look past the icky cosmetics like that purple fuzz dash, or the wrong engine. Here was a car with great potential either as a street Boss or a cloned Trans=Am racer…now the question we would like to ask readers is: was it worth Phil Roberts sinking $62,000 into (and you got to remember he probably wasn’t even counting his own labor since he owned the shop)? Ah, we think so in terms of public relations and promotion—he no doubt got other Trans Am customers as a result of showing his workmanship. An easy write-off if you have the right taxman. And his timing was right, because Trans-Am as a re-born racing class has mushroomed in popularity until today many Trans Am racers are commanding prices above $200,000 especially if they can trace their lineage right back to the races of ’67-70.
Summing up, I would like to hear if readers agree with me on this car’s value , and does anybody know what happened to the real Ford-sponsored team car red and white Trans Am car and what it’s worth today?
The Author: Wallace Wyss is the author of The Baroness and the Mercedes and 49 Other Collector cars (available from Enthusiast Books (715) 381 9755