|The last version of the
original Mustang arrived in September of 1970. By this time, it was
clear that performance was being pushed out of the marketplace through
economics (insurance premiums) and regulation (safety and fuel
requirements). An exciting and unique chapter in American automotive
history was coming to an end.
new Mustang was hardly recognizable next to the original version. Like
almost all cars of the day it grew longer, lower, and especially wider
and heavier. Where the first Mustang looked light and cheerful, this one
looked heavy and sullen.
As per the Mustang way, three body styles
were available: hardtop, fastback (also known as a sportsroof), and
convertible. Base models started with a 250ci inline six making 145hp. A
three speed manual on the floor was your standard transmission. A 302ci
2bbl V8 rated at 210hp was your first engine option, and most base
Mustangs come with this motor hooked up to the optional 3-speed C4
There was little flash to a base Mustang.
Chrome was sparse on the outside and the interior was downright cold and
spartan. In typical Detroit fashion, however, both conditions could be
remedied simply by looking to the option sheet to spruce things up.
The luxury version of the Mustang, the
Grande, was added to the line in 1969, and returned for 1971. It
features a richer, fancier interior (available as the Interior Decor
option on other models), and unique trim and identification badges. A
clock residing in the console was also standard.
Next up the ladder was the performance
oriented model, the Mach 1 fastback. The Mach 1 had its own visual cues,
including stripes and graphics, special grille with amber driving
lights, unique rear panel treatment, and pop-open gas cap.
Interestingly, the interior of the Mach 1 has the same taxi cab look of
the base model--right down to the idiot lights. If you want proper
gauges youll have to look for a car with the optional gauge pack in the
center console and a tachometer to the left.
Mechanical bits for the Mach 1 included
an uprated, heavy duty suspension with stabilizer bars and wider 14-inch
tires. Standard wheel treatment is the smooth hubcaps and bright trim
rings, with the commonly seen Magnum 500s optional. A dual scoop
hood was standard on 351 and 429 Mach 1s and a no-cost option for the
302. The scoops could be made functional at extra cost via
vacuum-operation. This option also got you twist locks for the hood.
The 302 was the Mach 1s base motor, but
hardly worthy of the performance image. Most Mach 1s have the optional
240hp, 351-2V motor, itself not exactly a pavement ripper. After those,
things got interesting. First up was a 4-bbl version of the 351, rated
at 285hp. This is a nice, balanced powerplant with plenty of oomph for
most. This engine was available on the base and Grande models, too.
Part of the reason the new models were so big was so they could easily
accommodate Ford's biggest engine, the 429ci Cobra Jet V8. Rated
at 370hp, these were a handful. But not the biggest handful. A ram air
version, the CJ-R unofficially churned out another 15 or so horsepower.
These were backed up by either a close-ratio 4-speed top-loader manual
or the stout C6 automatic. Add the Drag Pack option and your CJ became a
SCJ. You got internal engine upgrades and a 3.91:1 Traction Lok or
4.11:1 Detroit Locker rear axle. These were neck snappers!
Interestingly, these potent drivetrains were available in any Mustang
model and body style.
At the top of the Mustang hierarchy was
the Boss 351. Another fastback-only model, this one was special indeed.
It started with an exclusive solid lifter 351-4V motor. With Ram
Air, big valves, an 11.7:1 compression ratio and a 750cfm Holley carb,
it was one quick pony. It featured a competition suspension with
staggered rear shocks, 15-inch wheels and tires, power disc brakes, full
instrumentation and a close ratio 4-speed manual. The whole thing was
good for sub 14-second quarters right out of the box. An automatic was
All this was gone after one year. 1972
saw the end of the Boss and the 429. What was left saw few changes. One
addition was a new Sprint option. Available on all body styles, it was
white with twin blue stripes on the hood and the same blue was found on
the lower body. The interior was an attractive and bold blue and white.
An extended Sprint B package added 15-inch Magnum 500 wheels and a
heavy duty suspension.
1973 brought little change, as the
Mustang was in a holding pattern until the all-new, smaller Mustang II
arrived for 74.
The Market Today
For years, this version of the Mustang went neglected and mostly
unrecognized in the collector car market. This even applied, though to a
lesser extent, to the Boss and CJ models. They never fully participated
in the first postwar collector car boom of the eighties, laying largely
dormant through the nineties but coming to life with some very strong
percentage gains the last couple of years. In fact, theyve enjoyed some
of the biggest value gains on a percentage basis of any Mustang. How
big? Well over 100% for the Boss 351, and over 150% for the 429s. Mach
1s with the lesser, but still respectable Q-code 4-bbl 351 have shot up
in value, too. Not to be left out, convertibles, Grandes and even base
hardtops have risen smartly.
These are now all collectible, but as an
investment we would look to the Boss 351 or the 429 cars. Their
production is limited, and they have top-shelf muscle car credentials.
Right now a Boss can bring over $50,000, while the 429CJ is over
$60,000. A full on Drag Pack CJ-R is another 15%. The rarest of the rare
is a CJ convertible, and these are into six figure territory now.
A nice, but not show, Mach 1 with a 351
can still be bought under 20 grand and offers a lot of style for the
money. A convertible with options also falls into the safe category. We
also like a fully optioned Grande with the 351, air, power windows (a
first for Mustangs), and as many options as possible.
As the last of the baby boomer generation trickles into the collector
car market, these later Mustangs could continue to rise in value even
while the market as whole takes a breath.
No question, the last Mustang is finally
getting some respect.
Sprint Option for 1972 was bold in looks only. It was available on
all body styles.
'71 Boss 351, on the other hand, was not to be taken lightly by
anyone -- big blocks included.