Saturday, December 21, 2013

Readers Ride: 1970 Boss 302 Mustang

Ripping up the road for four decades. The year was 1972, when Al Willingham, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, went car shopping with his dad. Willingham had just returned home after serving 2 years in the U.S. Navy. Money was tight but a Wimbledon white 1970 Boss 302 Mustang caught the younger Willlingham’s eye on a used car lot. Asking price $2,700. Four-speed, hockey stick stripes. A Boss! Willingham negotiated a deal with the dealer and his dad. His dad was out $2,400. Four decades later, Willingham is still reaping dividends on those payments made to his dad.

All 1970 Boss 302 Mustangs received four-speed transmissions and a Hurst T-handle shifter to stir the gears.

See the Boss
  Recently, I met Willingham at the Birmingham Ford and Mustang Club car show at Jim Skinner Ford in Birmingham, Alabama. Willingham had just won a door prize. A walking cane with a small, toy Mustang for the handle. 
    “If you ever see the car, I can see you,” said Willingham. “Because it never leaves my sight.”
  Willingham placed the cane on top of the fold-down rear seat in his Boss 302 Mustang. Willingham's face lit up as he began to talk about his many adventures in the car. Street races and eluding the cops in the car sealed a bond long ago that this car owner won't easily break. 

Decals on factory, finned aluminum valve covers announce the 1970 Boss 302 engine.

Hell on wheels
  Willingham and his Boss 302 had a reputation for high-speed hijinks in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. If you cruised the boulevards of Tuscaloosa in the 1970s you may have seen a trio of Boss 302s. Willingham's white Boss 302 made the rounds with a green Boss and a yellow Boss, owned by a couple of his buddies. These fast friends were hell on wheels and a cop’s nightmare.

Pays to be first
  During his road warrior days in the 1970s, Willingham raced a Chevelle and came out a winner in more ways than one. He had the Chevy beat and decided to quickly pull into a parking lot to cool his engine. Just as he did he spotted red and blue lights in his rear view mirror. Willingham watched as the Chevelle blew past, followed by another Chevelle that was trying hard to catch his Boss Mustang and the first Chevelle. A Tuscaloosa cop pulled the two Chevelles over as a smiling Willingham skulked slowly through the darkened parking lot.

Willingham, above right, relishes the muscle car glory days of the 1970s and his 1970 Boss Mustang.

Half a million miles and still going
  A pile of speeding tickets and a blown engine were the only things that could slow Willingham's Mustang. He continues to maintain the Boss in stock condition, only replacing parts and paint as needed back to factory specs.
  “I guess I have a half million miles on it,” Willingham said. “The Boss was my daily driver for a long time.” Despite the miles, this Boss looks no worse for the wear. The ’Stang received a Wimbledon White repaint about 15 years ago. 
  Willingham, not one to back down from a race, managed to blow-up the 302 engine not long after he got it. Since then, he has had the engine rebuilt twice. The stout Ford 9-inch rear end is still the original with stock 3.50 gears.
  “If you can tear up a Ford 9-inch rear end you can tear up a steel ball,” said Willingham. 
  The transmission is still the original 4-speed, wide-ratio and has never been apart. Surprisingly, the Boss gets decent gas mileage, like that matters. I asked anyway. 
  “My Boss came with a 600 cfm carburetor and gets 21 miles per gallon on the highway,” said Wilingham. “Other than the driver's seat being replaced, the interior is all original.”

Reflective black stripes adorn 1970 Boss 302 Mustangs. 

Many happy returns
  I could tell Willingham loves his car as much now, as he did four decades ago. The look in his eyes when he talks about it made me believe this was the greatest car on the planet. I envy this guy. Willingham got the car he wanted and hung on to it. The 1969-1970 Boss 302 Mustangs certainly look like a great investment in hindsight. Willingham's Boss 302 is priceless.

Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life

1970 Boss 302 Mustang specs:
Engine - 302 cubic inch V8, rated at 290 horsepower
Carburetor - 600 cfm, 4 barrel
Transmission - Wide-ratio 4-speed manual
Rear end - 3.50 gear ratio
Color - Wimbledon white
Wheels - Chrome Magnum 500
Original MSRP - $3,720

Chrome air cleaner lid was standard on 1970 Boss Mustangs, a shaker scoop was optional.

Al Willingham has logged more than a half million miles behind the wheel of his 1970 Boss Mustang.

Front chin spoiler on the Boss amplifies the aggressive look of the redesigned 1970 Mustangs.
Front chin spoiler on the Boss amplifies the aggressive look of the redesigned 1970 Mustangs.

Reflective stripes adorned all 6,318 1970 Boss Mustangs produced by Ford.
Ford produced 7,013 Boss 302 Mustangs in 1970.

Flat black deck lid and rear spoiler lead to the blacked-out tail panel on 1970 Boss Mustangs.
A flat black deck lid and black rear spoiler lead to a blacked-out tail panel on 1970 Boss Mustangs.

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