Back in June 1996, I had located and bought two 1971 Boss 351 Mustangs in a package deal. One of these cars was black with black Mach 1 Sports interior. It was a rolling shell when I first saw it for the first time. Most of the options were missing. But the original window sticker states that this Boss came with 14 options from the factory. The highest number of options for a Boss in the registry so far. This car will be restored at a later time as the rare parts are accumulated.
However, this article is about the 2nd Mustang that I bought and wanted to restore to stock - original condition. The car was all original and complete. It was missing only the correct carb and distributor, which usually is the case with these cars. This Boss 351, was showing only 58,200 miles, and still had the Ford factory exhaust manifolds, H-Pipe, mufflers, and tailpipes. The rev-limiter was still working and was date-coded “7045”. Research shows the build date is January 10, 1971 and it came ordered with one option only, an AM 8-track radio.
So I decided to undertake this project (fool that I am) and turn it into a full-scale concourse restoration that began in January 1997 (double fool). First order of business was the body panels. They were rusted and needed replacing. NOS 1/4 Panels were installed, as well as the floor pans, fender aprons, tail light panel, trunk floor pan, outer wheelhouses, and the cowl panel, frt. cross member, and radiator support. You now understand that this was a very rusty car after sitting for 18 years in all types of weather. All work was done myself [body / paint] while the Boss motor was sent out to a local machine shop to be rebuilt. The motor was bored .030 over, the block was decked, heads shaved, new aluminum pistons installed, a slightly beefier crane cam was added, and upgraded to crane roller-rocker arms. After rebuilding the heads, the motor was assembled and placed on an engine stand while the work continued on the body.
Using PPG’s urethane primer, the entire car was DA sanded several times and re-primed to get the doors and fenders straight. Your bodywork really shows up after it's painted. A good paint job consists of getting the body rid of waves and small dents for a quality finish. Wet sanding with #400 wet/dry sandpaper was the next step before the painting process began. The car received a coat of white sealer, then two Coats of PPG’s urethane red base coat [Paint Code 3 - Bright Red] and 4 coats of clear. After drying, many hours of wet sanding took place in getting out all of the orange peel out of the paint (#1200, #1500, #2000 wet sand paper were used). The sanding process was followed by machine buffing w/ 3M's buffing compound, and also 3M's polishing compound to get that mirrored look. The results are impressive. Finally, the black out paint [low-gloss] was added to the hood, tail light panel, and lower body panels.
The factory stripes and decals
were added next and really make the car stand out. New F-60-15 Firestone wide-oval tires were
also purchased along with new upholstery, carpet, dash pad, headliner, sail panels, and all new
weather- stripping. The top-loader transmission was inspected and resealed along
with the 9’’ rear end as well. The front suspension was completely replaced
and detailed per concours specs. A new NOS Mach 1 grill was installed and a new
date coded Carlite windshield.
This project turned out to be a four year restoration, with some breaks in between. Now it’s time to compete in shows and drive the car!! See you at the MCA Nationals and 40th anniversary.
Please email me with any questions that you may have as you undertake your restoration.
Steve Collins - Jacksonville, Florida
Jan 1997 - started with an original 58,000 mile car
April 2003 "Completed"