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1971 Ford Mustang Boss 351 - Quick Cars

'71 Ford Mustang Boss 351

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This is a rare car-less than 2,000 Boss Mustangs were made in 1971. Considered one of the last true muscle cars, it came with an 11.7:1, solid lifter cam 351C backed by a close-ratio Top Loader, and a stout, 3.91:1 9-inch. The Boss' specs read more like a car from the late '60s rather than one built after 1970, when low compression and emission controls took priority over horsepower and all-out performance.

This car, owned by Ken Maisano, is an exceptional example. He bought it about 12 years ago, complete but a little crusty. "The car was from Arizona, and it was in pretty good shape," he says. But Ken is a stickler for the small stuff and has a sharp eye for details. He's also the owner of a body shop, so this is his livelihood. Ken treated his Boss to a full-on restoration, which included chemically stripping the whole body to metal, smoothing out the ripples, shimming and welding until the panel gaps were even, and spraying the BASF basecoat/clearcoat using his own concoction of Grabber Blue, the car's original color.

"Grabber Blue has always looked pale and chalky to me, so I mixed some using the correct formula, then I mixed my own using several different combinations of tints," Ken says. The result is a shade that is the same hue as Grabber Blue but with more depth and saturation. In layman's terms, it pops more.

Clutch pops are admittedly more entertaining than paint, and during a quick ride around Kenny's shop, he had a hard time not lighting up the tires. Though he dropped the compression ratio to 10.0:1, his Cleveland has no problem clicking off 12.65- second quarter-mile times at a 110-mph trap speed. We searched the Internet a little and found 1971-era Car & Driver performance numbers of 14.1 seconds at 100.6 mph. In other words, Kenny's engine-building skills match his autobody acumen.

Tech Notes
What:
'71 Boss 351

Engine: A 351 Cleveland sports 4.00-inch bores and a 3.50-inch stroke. Ken blueprinted his as he reassembled it. The block and heads are original to the engine. The cam is a custom grind from Cam Motion. The specs are 242 at 0.050 duration, 0.550 lift, and a 110-degree LSA. He welded the floor of the stock D1ZX-9425-CA intake manifold up 1/2 inch to provide more low-rpm torque. He also cleaned up the bowls behind the valves and added Manley Pro-Flow 2.19/1.72 valves. The 4300D Autolite spreadbore carburetor is still in place, as are the stock exhaust manifolds, but the exhaust system was replaced with 21/2-inch tubing and Cadillac mufflers. "They're quiet, but they're big, so they're less restrictive. And they still look like factory mufflers," Ken tells us.

Transmission: All Bosses have close-ratio Top Loaders.

Rearend: They also have 9-inch rear axles with 3.9:1 gears. Ken upgraded to a Detroit Locker differential.

Wheels/Tires: In the era of large wheels, this car's 15x7 Magnum 500 wheels are refreshing, as are the raised white-letter Goodyear Eagles.

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