Imagine, if you will, it's 1970. The herky-jerky assembly line pushes Mustangs of all styles past you and you dutifully apply whatever the buildsheet says you need to apply. Maybe you're a painter-the one that applies the blackout to the cars that should have it. You stand there day in, day out and squirt paint onto someone else's dream. Sometimes you even dream yourself: you're on a faraway island and sipping coconut juice and smiling at the hula girls populating your brain. You do this to the point where you run the paint on the backside of a Boss 351 that should be painted Grabber Green Metallic at the next station. Oh, well; it's not that you don't care about the car or your work, it's just that you don't want to stop the process for a run that most folks won't notice. It slides past and you go back to the hula girls and that juice as the next Mustang slowly rolls your way.
"Quality is job one" was Ford's pet slogan for many years. Yet, if you look at an unrestored car like Don Smith's, you'll find holidays all over the Grabber Green Metallic beauty. Let's face it, to us these cars are more than transportation, yet back in the day they were only that. Who knew in 1964 that Ford's little ponycar would be the roaring success it is today? Who knew that a whole cottage industry would spring up to restore these fleet steeds of yore? Certainly not that assembly line worker. To look at a Boss 351 like Dan's is to see a time capsule from 1970. With the exception of the exhaust system (the car still wears the headers applied by the original owner) and the Magnum 500s, the car is what it was when sold new.
"From the expansive paperwork," said Don, "I learned the Boss was purchased on January 14, 1971, from Hatfield Ford in downtown Indianapolis by a gentleman named Gregory Palencer. According to the sales receipt, the selling price was $4,474.25. Mr. Palencer traded in a '66 Mustang convertible for the Boss and was given $1,061.50 on the trade-in. This was applied to the Boss sale to bring down the total to $3,412.75. Palencer hung onto the car until 1982 when he sold it to Ron Vail. In 1998 I sweet-talked my wife and traded some cash and my '70 Mach 1 [to Vail] for the Boss."
Dan received the aforementioned time capsule in the trade. The Boss came down the assembly line just as the more mundane hardtops and SportsRoofs; unlike the SVT stuff we drool over today, there were no special hand-assembled engines signed by the builders. Your average Boss 351 Cleveland was set manifold to manifold with its more pedestrian clansmen. The option list was short on this Boss: Sports deck rear seat, AM radio, and power steering. What the Boss lacks in options, it makes up for in standard components, such as the 330 horse 351 4V, Hurst-shifted four-speed, 3.91:1 Traction-Lok rear axle. Other standard items were the power disc brakes and big F60/15 Firestone or Goodyear rubber mounted on the special 15-inch steel rims with the cool-looking trim rings and caps. Staggered rear shocks and bigger front and rear sway bars than the standard comp suspension was also part of this package. Owners also received the front spoiler as standard. Inside, the Boss was-unless ordered otherwise-as plain as the plainest base-model hardtop with the exception of the standard gauge package.
Dan has something special to all of us who value old iron and would love to own, a perfect less-than-perfect, low-mile Mustang.