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1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 - Boss 101

Studying this 1969 Bud Moore team car is our kind of history lesson!

By Eric English, Photography by Eric English

Is it any surprise that in an age of high-tech and high-performance rides unlike anything heretofore, a car constructed more than 40 years ago is likely to trump them all? Well, when said car is an original and high-profile combatant from the original SCCA Trans-Am series, it’s absolutely no surprise. The appeal of this particular Mustang is timeless—a blend of killer visuals, hard-core ’60s race hardware, and notable status as one of just two ’69 Bud Moore Boss 302 team cars in existence. Mmm, in the world of high-performance machines, it’s tough to find anything bigger in stature or more bad to the bone—no matter your frame of reference.

As if the previously recited credentials weren’t enough to grab you, it’s worth noting that this particular car is the first Boss 302 Mustang to turn a wheel in sanctioned competition. Known as chassis number 9F02R112074, it’s one of two prototypes that Ford subcontractor Kar Kraft turned out in preparation for the ’69 race season. This one was provided to the Bud Moore team, while the other prototype went to the Shelby camp—both organizations getting Ford factory support in an effort to get back on track after a disappointing ’68 Trans-Am. Additional team cars would quickly follow, but 074 was the first to get a crack at competition—the event being the Citrus 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

While Trans-Am was the ponycar’s most popular race venue, NASCAR’s Grand Touring (later known as Grand American) series was also a playground for Mustangs, Camaros, Javelins, and the like. Known as the “Baby Grand,” since it played second fiddle to the headlining Grand National stockers, Grand Touring still attracted factory effort and popular drivers. Held on February 21, 1969, the Citrus 250 was just such a race, and 074 made its debut here as a sort of shakedown for the Trans-Am season to come. With Parnelli Jones at the wheel, the Boss qualified second and led the race early on, though it eventually would DNF due to transmission woes.

A more important test for the new Boss 302 Mustangs was the May 1969 Trans-Am opener at Michigan International Speedway. Things looked great for Ford right out of the gate, with Jones winning Michigan in a different Bud Moore Boss, and George Follmer winning race four at Bridgehampton in 074, which turned out to be his primary car through the first seven races. But alas, corporate disaster would strike in race seven at St. Jovite, Quebec. With Ford still leading the manufacturer’s points battle, the proverbial wheels came off when Follmer’s 074 blew its engine on lap 14 and spread oil on the track. Moments later, a pileup ensued that would not only damage Follmer’s car but both Shelby team Bosses and various others. Jones had already been sidelined by shifting issues, and as fate would have it, the Penske Camaro team avoided the crash entirely. It was the turning point of the season, where Chevrolet took the lead in the championship points race for good.

St. Jovite turned out to be 074’s last Trans-Am race, as a backup car was easier to press into service than executing repairs. After the ’69 season, the car lingered around the Bud Moore shops for years until Richard Rodeck purchased it, sans running gear, in the early ’80s. As one of the early restorers of such vintage racers, Rodeck recognized the historical significance the cars represented and planned a full race restoration for 074 in the future. Before he could get started, Don Hodges hit Rodeck up to purchase the car, and a deal was struck.

Hodges chuckles when explaining how at a NorCal Shelby club event in 1984, he had brought his freshly restored ’70 Boss 302 street car. Who should pull in next to him but Rodeck in a school-bus-yellow ’70 Bud Moore team car. “Rightfully so, people were drawn to Rodeck’s car like a magnet, including myself. I realized it was the kind of car I really wanted to pursue.” Hodges bought 074 shortly thereafter and tasked Rodeck with the necessary bodywork and paint, top to bottom, inside and out. Once back in its tri-color scheme, Hodges brought the car home and set to work assembling the remainder of the historic machine. Parts came from various sources, including Rodeck and Rob Palacio—the latter being the source of the new and complete Trans-Am engine that had earlier been purchased from Parnelli Jones himself. Such full-tilt Boss 302s made between 450–500 hp at a full 8,500-rpm song and sported dry-deck construction, forged steel cranks, Ford “SK” connecting rods, and big compression. The dual Holley Dominators are mesmerizing in appearance and are as raced in 1969 only. Think of it—2,100 cfm!

By Eric English
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