Phin Stubbs' Future Mod Boss 302 has something Ford's new retro classics will never have. "It's the real deal," Phin says in reference to the '69 fastback's vintage musclecar looks. Yet, he gives the new Mustangs their just due.
"It's still not the same chassis that you get from the factory today," admits Phin.
He makes a good point. We like to put it like this: There was only one Elvis-the rest are imitations, and no matter how close others come in looks and performance, only one is the original.
"I've owned vintage Mustangs," Phin says. "I'm a collector. And I've also owned vintage Ferraris and Aston Martins. What really motivated me to build this Boss was the Aston Martin Vantage."
Phin doesn't confine himself to one car, however; he owns a 330 GTC Ferrari and a Porsche 912. Actor Nicolas Cage sold him a '63 Aston Martin DB5 like the one used in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.
Phin versed us on his great Mustang adventure. Like us, he went through the collector phase of the hobby. "I'd get them finished," he says, "but I never ended up driving them. So I decided to do one I could drive-one that is modern and comfortable."
Restomod-a term that begs for another name-is the first thought that comes to mind, until you look at the Boss 302. Phin continues his story:
"So that's what I did. It's got cold A/C, electric windows, remote door locks, coilover suspension, and rack-and-pinion steering, like they put on the Eleanor cars (from Gone in Sixty Seconds, now the GT500E by Shelby), from Total Control Products.
"It's as good as it gets, with a fuel-injected 5.0-liter, modern Mustang leather seats, and four-wheel disc brakes," says Phin, "although, arguably, discs on the front are good enough. But I put them all the way around. Money was not an issue-I wanted to do it right."
Phin's experience with Mustang restorations shows. He knows the issues common to vintage cars. We took a close look, and when we turned on the headlights, all the lenses looked bright, like an '03 factory Mustang. Ditto for the interior.
Plus, the car had a new look with the '02 paint. No original Boss was ever painted Mineral Gray.
Yet Phin kept the vintage body stock. He actually started with a rare G-code Boss 302. The Boss front fenders, as collectors recall, are radiused for larger tires, and the rims are stock-issue Magnum 500s. He didn't want the car to look modified on the outside.
"Everything about it is 1969, including the license plates," Phin says. "But everything functional is completely updated." We can imagine the trepidation with which a former restorer and a collector removed the exotic, canted-valve Boss 302 engine. It was replaced by a crate 5.0-liter with a mild cam for a vintage, throaty sound.
Every Boss 302 was a four-speed. We noticed an automatic shifter inside. "The concept was to keep it completely driveable and comfortable," Phin tells us. "I didn't want to hold in a clutch. Believe me, I tore myself apart trying to decide how to do that. It would have been cheaper going with a five-speed, but, ultimately, I went with a five-speed overdrive automatic."
Pop the hood, and the warmed-over 5.0-liter stares back at you. There's plenty of room under there with the shock towers completely gone. The term restomod doesn't seem to fit. Phin believes his version of the Boss 302 is a step or two beyond a car that has been restored to look original, yet modified with modern performance and comfort.
He relates his '69 to the current crop of retro-styled muscle Mustangs like the Shaker-scooped Mach 1 and the anticipated '04 Boss. He knows his Boss can never go all the way to new technology, mainly because the chassis is so different. In the same way, the retro Mustangs can never go all the way to the vintage look.
"They designed the Boss 302 one time and they did it right," insists Phin. He started with the right stuff and went modern-all the way to Future Mod.