When looking at the history of the iconic Ford Mustang Boss 429, some will say this version of the car was simply a means to an end. As Ford’s last-ditched effort to qualify for NASCAR and stay competitive with the Hemi and Chevy’s muscle cars, the body of this version of the ‘69 and ‘70 muscle car basically had to be crafted around the massive, oversized engine.
While the aforementioned tidbits of information may be true, it does not change the fact that what was created out of necessity is today one of the most highly sought-after muscle cars ever. That fastback body remains one of the sexiest things ever to roll off a production line.
The Race for NASCAR Is on
While Ford never intended to put the 429’s engine into a street vehicle, to show Chevy and its other competitors that this Pony was ready to race, competing head-to-head against their established Hemi was the way to prove they meant business. Ford decided NASCAR was the route to take.
But to be accepted for contention to NASCAR’s Grand National Division, their guidelines required a minimum of 500 of these 429-monsters be placed in cars available for general consumption.
Every New Beginning Comes from Some Other Beginning’s End
Being the crafty devil he was, in 1968, Henry Ford II saw a chance to outdo Chevy once and for all, and he took it.
After a coup at the GM plant, Ford snatched up the displaced Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen. On the shortlist to become the top dog at the competitor’s, Knudsen left when he was passed over for the gig, making him readily available to fill the position at Ford.
As the new President of Ford, Knudsen was one of the biggest proponents of the muscle car revolution. He eagerly threw his full support behind this new venture for Ford, and it was off to the races to design the new Mustang Boss 429.
Using his best judgment to bring in a like-minded gearhead, Knudsen drafted fellow General Motors ex-pat Larry Shinoda to take the reigns over the development of the newest member of the Mustang family.
Legend has it, finding the right name to describe this mean piece of American muscle was a difficult task. When asked to discuss the new car he was working on, Shinoda would deflect the question by saying, “It’s the Boss’ car,” referring them back to Knudsen. The moniker “Boss” stuck, and the name is now in the annals of muscle car history.
99 Problems and the 429 Is One
The engine’s development was basically completed by the time the dynamic duo was brought on to oversee Ford’s latest undertaking. While this might seem like a great problem to have, the real issue came in with the engine’s size: it was too massive to fit into the Mustang’s current body style. They had to redesign the car around the engine, stat!
Returning to a reliable source, Ford sub-contracted Kar Kraft Engineering, the team responsible for much of the work on Ford’s highly successful GT project, to assist with the major surgery needed to get this pony ready for its day at the races.
Shinoda and the brain trust at Kar Kraft got busy crafting a body that would accommodate the engine and offer performance for the NASCAR bid. They did that and a whole lot more.
This pony needed to grow into a workhorse to accommodate what was under the hood. Somehow the engine bay needed to expand several inches, and the hood required a lift to house the 429 in addition to addressing other less pressing issues.
Rather than simply pack on close to an additional 200 pounds, Shinoda bulked up the body of the Boss 429 like a weightlifter builds mass.
The result was a car that offered an intimidation factor the likes of which Ford had never known before. The functional hood scoop, necessary to allow the monster to breathe without impediments, is still the largest Mustang has ever rolled out.
The extra width needed in the engine bay was found through redesigning the suspension system and bumping the battery to the trunk. New front and rear spoilers added to the now-iconic appearance.
Rounding out the 429’s new sexy, domineering design, the car was lowered slightly and placed on wider wheels.
Once the restructuring was complete, it was time to compete.
Off to the Races?
Though successful in qualifying for NASCAR contention, Ford’s winning model that year was a Torino. However, this bad-to-the-bone dragster did manage to send GM and its other competitors into submission and back to the drawing board.
Show Me What You’re Working With
Though it might not have been the big winner at the races, the 429 is still the biggest engine Ford ever dare put inside a sports car. Made for sheer dragster speed, the 429 was not designed with handling in mind. Yet, the feats that it reached are still impressive to this day.
For insurance purposes, Ford might have been “mistaken” with some of the final numbers recorded for the Boss 429. Regardless, even what was put down on the record was still notable:
- Horsepower - Recorded to get 374.9 hp at 5,200 rpm, legend has it that some could actually reach upwards of 500 hp.
- Torque - It came in at an impressive 450 ft-lbs @ 3.400 rpm.
- It was able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds.
- Living its life at ¼ of a mile at a time could be achieved in 14.0 seconds at a neck-breaking 103 mph.
- This car was so cool, air conditioning was not even an option.
During its two-year limited run, you could be the proud owner of one of just over 1,300 of these mad machines for around $5,000.
Now, if you want to snag one, you’d better make sure your pockets go beyond deep. Priced from the low $200,000s to over half a million bucks, these Mustangs continue to be some of the most coveted muscle cars ever to hit the blacktop.
More Than Just a One-Trick Pony
Though the intended outcome for this powerhouse was not achieved, its lasting effect on automotive history is virtually unparalleled. From its unintentional beginning to becoming one of the most highly prized muscle cars ever, the Mustang Boss 429 has proven to be more than just a one-trick pony.