Dan Koerselman couldn't afford to buy a new '70 Boss-he was, after all, only 10 years old-but the excitement of Ford's Total Performance era stayed with him into his adult years. Not only did he have good taste in musclecars, Dan also had the smarts to open his own cellular phone company as the industry was taking off in the '90s. A good portion of the disposable income he earned from his various businesses has gone into toys of the Mustang variety, such as an incredibly rare '78 Monroe Handler Mustang II and a '98 Saleen S-351.
We met the Noblesville, Indiana, entrepreneur at the Mustang Club of America's 30th Anniversary Mustang Stampede in Birmingham, Alabama, during Labor Day weekend of 2006. He was displaying a Grabber Blue '70 Boss 302 that had just been through a 7 1/2-year Thoroughbred restoration. The fastback, which Dan purchased in 1995 from its second owner, had received a "light restoration" in the late '70s and was featured alongside a vintage racing Boss in a 1993 issue of Motor Trend magazine.
"What attracted me to the car was the excellent condition of the body and that most major components were still original," he says. "The paint was faded in some areas, so I fooled myself into thinking that all I wanted was to get it resprayed and drive it to a few shows a year for fun."
That thought lasted about as long as a politician's promise. After seeing the fresh Grabber Blue, expertly applied by Tom Mitchell from DuPont, Dan realized that every part attached to it looked dingy by comparison. He enlisted the aid of Jim Cunningham from nearby Zionsville, whose knowledge as an MCA Gold Card judge for '69-'70 Mustangs and Bosses was invaluable to the restoration project. Although it meant a huge investment in time, research, and dollars, Dan was committed to restoring the Boss to the exacting standards of MCA's Thoroughbred class.
"The Thoroughbred class is what I would describe as 'museum quality,'" Jim says. "Every part has either been meticulously restored or replaced by new old stock. The goal is to build a car in which every component is authentic to the date that it rolled down the assembly line. Ideally, a Thoroughbred Mustang built in May wouldn't have parts on it with date stamps that show they were made in July or August. Sometimes exceptions have to be made, especially when dealing with unique parts for low-production models such as Bosses and Shelbys.
"There was no rust anywhere on the car when Dan got it," Jim says. "It ran great, and it still had the original drivetrain in place. We knew a Thoroughbred buildup was a possibility."
When the Boss received its late-'70s rehabilitation, such parts were still available if the owner knew who to contact. They were also relatively inexpensive because there was minimal demand. Even so, the blue fastback received some incorrect parts in its early life, including the heat shield, some smog components, and a lot of fastening hardware.
"We began looking all over the country for the parts we needed. Bob Perkins was tremendous in that respect, helping us locate N.O.S. upper and lower control arms, spindles, tie rods, power-steering parts, brake calipers, rotors, drums, hoses, and a steering wheel. We also had to track down the kind of stuff most people never think of, such as the wiring harness, bushings, and hangers."
To give you an idea of how much money it takes to bring a clean, well-maintained Boss to Thoroughbred status, we should point out that the three-piece N.O.S. exhaust system with correct hardware cost $5,000 a few years ago. Try finding one today at any price.