- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bill Wilkinson was a sophomore in Sherwood High School in Ashton, Md., when he saw his first 1970 Boss Mustang. Later, the older brother of one his teenage classmates actually bought a Boss Mustang and young Wilkinson was in seventh heaven whenever he was fortunate enough to hitch a ride in the powerful Ford.

In the years since, he has owned several muscle cars, including some Shelby Mustangs as well as a couple of Boss Mustangs. “But they were just drivers,” he says with a dismissive wave. “They were futile attempts at perfection.”

Besides, he says, not one was his favorite color. He says he sold one to get money for a down payment on a house. Regardless, they were all fun for a while but they’re all gone now.

Surfing on the Internet early this year, he saw a picture of a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang that arrested his attention. It was painted Grabber Blue, the color that had eluded him.

The car looked great, but pictures can be deceiving. The Mustang was located in Heightstown, N.J., and Mr. Wilkinson drove up in February to see what he could see.

The car was at a restoration shop that specializes in Mustangs and it had just undergone a complete professional restoration. Mr. Wilkinson says the original engine had only 43,000 miles. The Mustang reportedly was disassembled by the second owner preparatory to a restoration effort and then sat in his garage in pieces for 20 years.

Mr. Wilkinson had no choice. He told the seller he would be back with a truck, trailer and money. When all the arrangements were made, he returned to collect his Boss Mustang and carefully loaded the 3,227-pound car in the trailer and towed it to his home in Alexandria.

Once he had it safe and secure in a garage, he delved into some of the records and paperwork that came with the car.

He learned that his Mustang was built Dec. 19, 1969, in Metuchen, N.J., and was delivered Christmas Eve to Arford, N.J. “Looks like somebody had a merry Christmas,” Mr. Wilkinson says.

Mr. Wilkinson’s Boss Mustang is supported by Goodyear Polyglas GT F60 15-inch tires mounted on optional Magnum 500 wheels on a 108-inch wheelbase. The car, one of 6,319 manufactured, carried a base price of $3,720 when new. Of course the options packages pushed up the price. The fastback roofline was designated as a sports roof.

Extra-cost options on Mr. Wilkinson’s car include the W-code which is a 4.30 Detroit locker rear end. The car is equipped with a factory-installed oil cooler, close-ratio transmission and a convenience group, which primarily amounts to courtesy lights everywhere. The oil cooler isn’t built into the radiator but instead is a small radiator in front of the regular radiator.

A 302-cubic-inch V-8 that develops 290 horsepower protrudes through the hole in the shaker engine hood for that very purpose. For some unknown reason the speedometer tops out at only 120 mph.

All that power is transferred to the pavement through the rear drive wheels via a Hurst four-speed shifter on the floor. Mr. Wilkinson points out that the authentic Hurst shifters have a recess to fit an Allen wrench to be used to secure the shift handle.

Inside the racy car, the carpet is black while most everything else is white — seats, door panels, headliner. In a nod to practicality, the black carpeting wraps up a few inches onto the bottom of the doors, making scuff marks by shoes invisible.

A Philco AM radio in the center of the dashboard is rarely used, the owner favoring the sound tumbling out the exhaust pipes provided by the engine.

The Mustang has tinted glass and the driver is provided with a much-needed tachometer. Mr. Wilkinson notes that his car left the factory with the interior decor group, which he believes are the wood-grain accents found throughout the cockpit.

Mr. Wilkinson, an admitted perfectionist, says he couldn’t be happier with his Grabber Blue Boss 302 Mustang. “It takes me back to when times were easier to understand,” he says.

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