Written by Drew Hardin on April 23, 2015 Contributors: Wes Allison, Owners Shotgun 429
This 1970 Boss 429, for example, an original-paint, original-interior car, now lives in the rarified air of the most desirable of Detroit's supercars. In 1970, though, things were different.
On December 21, 1970, McCoy Ford in Southern California's Orange County put an ad in the Los Angeles Times offering not one, but three Boss 429s that were still in inventory. "There had been so much excitement with the Boss 429 introduction that the Ford dealers held them back and asked exorbitant sales prices," remembers Nancy Eszenszky. "There wasn't a sale price in the ad, but here it was, almost 1971, and these three still hadn't found owners. We wondered if we'd be able to afford one."
Our Trusted Partner
Nancy and her husband Andy made the trip from their San Fernando Valley home to Fullerton to check out the Bosses. Two were Grabber Green; one was Calypso Coral. "It was nighttime, and the green cars looked horrible under the fluorescent lights," she says. The dealer had painted stripes on the Coral car's hood and trunklid to make it more desirable, and that did the trick for the couple. That and a discount. "The special price for the Coral Boss was $3,575," Nancy says. "With $1,000 down the mighty Boss was ours. At $200 under invoice."
The special price for the Coral Boss was $3,575
The couple immediately took their new car to Lions dragstrip. Rumor had it the Boss was a mid-12-second car in box-stock condition. "Wrong! Mid 13s at best," says Nancy, still irritated years later. "Was I disappointed? No, just mad as the devil."
But Andy and Nancy were also motivated to get some hustle into their new Mustang. First they added a pair of Sanderson headers. "After four days, bloody knuckles, and help from our faithful friend Larry Goltz, the Boss had its headers," says Andy, a longtime mechanic. They also put 4.57 gears and a Detroit Locker in the 9-inch rearend and swapped the stock axles for beefier Henry's axles.
Then it was back to the track. "I raced at Orange County, Lions, Irwindale, but Orange County was the newest and the best one," Andy remembers. "I'd drive the 62 miles to Orange County, and there was a little speed shop right under the bleachers where racers could rent or purchase slicks. I chose a set of 11x14 Marsh Gold Diggers. At the starting line I brought the engine up to the 6,100-rpm rev limiter, dumped the clutch, and hit the finish line quick." The resulting 12.48 at 110 mph was "great," Andy remembers. But what's next? he thought at the time.
Andy doesn't recall which of his racing buddies was friendly with Mickey Thompson, but they were advised to visit him, as he was starting to race Boss 429s "and he might have some speed parts he'd be willing to part with," Andy was told.
Was I disappointed? No, just mad as the devil.
1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Trunk 2/13
The big 429 took up so much space in the Mustang's engine bay that many components—like the suspension mounts—had to be relocated. There was no room for a battery, so it was put in the trunk, all the better to aid traction at launch.
They were met at the door of Thompson's shop "by a shop mechanic who said we were welcome to look around the huge warehouse," says Andy. On one shelf Andy and Nancy spotted a Boss 429 supercharger setup. "Oh, I wanted that blower," Nancy recalls, "but behind us was a rather rugged-looking man who said on no uncertain terms that the blower was not what we needed for our Mustang." But, he said, a dual-quad tunnel ram made for one of his drag race cars, plus a Joe Hunt magneto and a handful of O-ring head gaskets, should do the trick.
They asked the mechanic if Thompson would be willing to sell these one-of-a-kind parts. "He said he would ask and come right back," says Nancy. "If we had $250, Thompson said the parts were ours." Andy must have recognized the "rugged-looking man" giving the advice, but Nancy didn't. It was Mickey Thompson himself. "Thank you, Mr. Thompson, for the treasures," says Nancy.
They bought a junkyard Mustang hood for $15, cut a hole in it for the tall intake, and matched the new induction and ignition parts with a roller cam and lifters. At Irwindale the car made its best pass: 11.79 at 118 mph.
And yet there were still issues. "We had always driven the car to the dragstrip," Andy points out," and the tunnel ram was a pain to see past." Steven, Andy and Nancy's son, adds, "Can you imagine my mom driving this thing trying to look past that tunnel ram?" They also had a problem with the new cam going flat. So the tunnel ram came off, and a 950-cfm Holley three-barrel was put on the Boss's stock intake. The original hood went back on the car.
The Holley was no tunnel ram; the Mustang's e.t.'s rose to the low 12s. But other things were changing for the couple too. "Dragstrips were closing down," Andy remembers. "I got a job at the Chevy plant on Van Nuys Boulevard. My wife got a warning for drag racing on the way home from meeting me for lunch one day, while Steven was sound asleep on the back seat. And then a well-worn 1969 Shelby G.T. 350 convertible came into our lives."
The Shelby belonged to a neighbor, who had bought it in Texas. It was white and "jacked up like a 4x4," recalls Andy. Parts were plentiful for the Shelby's 351, compared to the pricey equipment needed to make the most of the Boss. "I didn't want to screw up the Boss that much, but the Shelby was already screwed up," he says, chuckling. The Mustang was parked, and after 1984—the latest tag on the car's license plate—it was driven hardly at all.
Yet it was driven, if infrequently, and it fired right up for our photo shoot. Andy and Nancy kept the M/T tunnel ram, the magneto, and those Marsh Gold Digger slicks. "Best of all, we kept the Boss, with its nice original paint and interior," Nancy says. "It stands proud on its well-worn 10-inch M/T slicks, and has racked up only 12,457 miles after all these years."
At a Glance
- 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429
- Owned by: Andy & Nancy Eszenszky, Tarzana, CA
- Restored by: Unrestored original
- Engine: 429ci/375hp V-8
- Transmission: Close-ratio 4-speed manual with Hurst shifter
- Rearend: 9-inch with 3.91 gears and Traction-Lok
- Interior: Black vinyl bucket seat
- Wheels: 15x7 Magnum 500
- Tires: 235/60R15 Remington XT-120 front, 28-10.50-15 M/T ET drag slicks rear
950-cfm three-barrel Holley carb
Henry's axletraction bars
KGB gas shocks
Dealer-applied hood and trunklid stripes
Period performance: 11.79 at 118 mph
The tunnel ram was a pain to see past
Andy & Nancy's Collection
Over the years, Andy figures he and Nancy have bought and sold upwards of 2,500 cars. Some were muscle cars: 10 Shelbys, six or seven Corvettes, and a six-cylinder Maverick with a 289 transplant that Nancy says she liked better than the Boss. Others were European sports and exotic cars, like the McCullough-supercharged Gullwing Mercedes that Andy wishes he never sold. He drove a Countach daily for a while, owned 10 of the über-powerful Mercedes 6.3 sedans, and had a Porsche Super 90 and even a tiny Messerschmitt.
These days the collection has been culled to just a handful of their favorites. Besides the Boss 429 and beloved Shelby G.T. 350 convertible, there's a Viper coupe, a Cosworth Vega, a NASCAR Edition F-150 pickup, and a hopped-up VW Super Beetle, a car with far more emotional value to the couple than what it would fetch on eBay.
For a while Andy also ran these 24x11 Marsh Gold Digger slicks on the Boss, mounted on Shelby wheels. These were "axle twistin', valve bustin', gear jammin', e.t. choppin', spring bendin', cam crackin', torque gettin', smoke spittin', carb suckin'" slicks—it said so right on the tires! "They were good and sticky, but they were too short and I ran out of rpm," he remembers.
1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Interior 12/13
1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Dashboard 13/13
Some of the vinyl woodgrain appliqué is delaminating, and there are a couple of small tears in the upholstery, but otherwise the Mustang's interior is mint, the result of just 12,000 miles of use.