"Mustang prices are cheap!" Boston Bob, on the other end of the phone, paused as he gauged our surprise. Cobra Jets, Bosses, and especially Shelbys have been escalating, some in an almost vertical fashion, over the last year and a half. How can they be termed cheap?
Then, the New Englander hit us with the payoff. "They're cheap compared to other cars, like the Mopars."
Bob Brisbois restores old New England houses for a living. His after-hours passion is restoring Cobra Jets, such as his '69 convertible, on course for MCA Thoroughbred status. He's Cobra Jet crazy.
As Bob points out, classic high-performance Mustangs are part of a broader musclecar market that includes Chevrolets, Dodges, Plymouths, Pontiacs, and other American iron of the '60s and early '70s. When a '69 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 sells for $100,000, how can a Boss 302 be much less? They're rivals and street counterparts of their Trans-Am twins on the track. Or, when a '70 Hemi 'Cuda coupe fetches $250,000, what's a '70 Boss 429 (a hemi-powered ponycar) worth?
American muscle is hot. So, yes, as sardonic as Bob's comments sound, some Mustangs, though they've jumped wildly in price, just might be undervalued.
But how high can they go? How high will they go? Will they level off soon? What's the future hold for prices?
Bob Perkins, head Mustang Club of America national judge and full-time Mustang restorer from Juneau, Wisconsin, jumped into the fray with both feet, "I can tell you that, in my opinion, Boss 302s are the hottest thing going. Good ones are bringing in the $60,000 range."
By "good," Bob means either restored or excellent original. Like Boston Bob, Wisconsin Bob used musclecars as his point of reference for the current escalation of prices inside the Mustang hobby.
"I think any nice musclecar right now is going to command more money than they ever have. The Boss 302s are underpriced from the last jump in the late '80s." Perkins was referring to another time in the collector car hobby when prices soared. In those days, the Boss 302s did nothing.
He continues, "Now, all of a sudden the Z/28s and Boss 302s are really starting to get popular. I think the price of a '69 Z/28 has driven up the price of Boss 302s."
The 60-grand figure sounds regal, but is still one-third less than a Boss 302 brought this past January in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction. Bidders can get carried away at an auction. Perkins is a Boss connoisseur who knows the nuances, but maybe a wealthy buyer does not.
Perkins says, "The car at Barrett-Jackson was a perfect example of people not knowing what they were buying. After commissions, the price was like $90,000 and the car wasn't even painted the original color."
Furthermore, Perkins points out the seller had also chosen reproduction Firestone F70 tires, which is the wrong size for the Boss 302. He lamented the sale with the mantra of "people paying too much for incorrect cars." Nonetheless, the published reports of this price spread the word of $90,000 Boss 302s. He appraised the Barrett-Jackson Boss as a "$40,000 car."
Perkins opines top-notch Boss 302s should bring $75,000. Although these prices may worry some collectors-especially people who have procrastinated about buying their dream machine-he sees higher prices in a positive way. "It's to the point now that people can restore a Boss 302 correctly and not be buried in the car. It used to be they brought $35,000. You couldn't put all the correct parts on them and come out on the car. You'd spend too much money. Now, a top-notch 302 with correct parts, tires, and exhausts will probably bring $75,000 plus."
Restoration costs have long been the bugaboo of the hobby. Put $50,000 in a car, and it's only worth $25,000 to $35,000 the day it's done. This is no longer true with certain muscle Mustangs.