In my series on the Ford 335-Series engines, I covered in detail the performance potential designed into Ford’s 351C. Unfortunately, this engine really had little opportunity to shine with minimizing engine emissions becoming far more important than all out performance shortly after the 351C’s introduction. In the North American market, Ford built one 351C variant that was nearly uninhibited – the Boss 351. This engine was a one year wonder, limited to Ford Mustang Boss 351. After 1971 the Mustang Boss 351 was dropped. Although the engine continued into 1972 as the 351 HO, it was substantially neutered to meet the tightening emissions and therefore lost the Boss moniker.
When people talk about legendary muscle cars, they talk of Hemi Mopars, Chevelle Super Sports, GTOs and Ford Mustangs. Getting specific about Mustangs, people will mention Shelby Mustangs, Boss 302s, 428 Cobra Jets and Boss 429s. Rarely, is the Boss 351 ever mentioned. Yet, despite the lack interest, the Boss 351 was one of the best performing Mustangs of the era. The Boss 351 punched above its weight class. It was significantly smaller in displacement than most other cars that had similar performance and was definitely one of the best performing “small-block” cars of the era. However, this excellent engine was only available in the larger and heavier 1971 Mustang. This is a Mustang that wasn’t totally accepted then or now by enthusiasts.
For 1971, the Ford Mustang was heavily reworked and restyled. The Mustang grew in length, width and weight, becoming the largest and heaviest Mustang up until that time. Despite these major revisions, it continued to use the old Falcon chassis that it had been based off since its inception. The new racy styling was one of Ford’s last cars to be styled without the soon to be imposed government regulations. And the stylists took it to the extreme, creating a car with all of the performance styling trends of the day.
While often people think of these as the big bloated Mustangs, realistically, the size growth wasn’t as substantial as the styling may have suggested. Over the 1970 model, the 1971 Mustang grew about 2” in length and about 2.5” in width. Yet even with this growth, the Mustang was on par with the Camaro in size and was actually smaller than the Challenger or the Javelin.
Ford enlarged the engine bay in the 1967 Mustang to fit the larger FE engines, but it still wasn’t large enough to house the new 385-series engines. This was resolved with the 1971 Mustang, which had a new larger engine bay, capable of housing the 429 engine that replaced the former 428 engine. When the front end was widened, Ford also updated the front suspension and steering. The track was widened, the front suspension geometry was altered, and Ford finally used an integral power steering system. Ford actually went to its competitor for steering, and used a Saginaw steering box. The Boss 351 and other performance Mustangs used a quick ratio box that was superior to the Ford built boxes, with a faster ratio and better road feel.
Despite the growth in size and width, the elements were still there to make a great pony car. It had trendy racy styling, a hot engine line-up, and improved suspension and steering. Yet, despite all this this Mustang largely missed the mark in the eyes of the press and many enthusiasts. Car and Driver tested a 1971 Boss Mustang, and were impressed with the performance of the 351C, but had many reservations about the Mustang itself. The drag strip performance was very good, deemed to be comparable to cars with 100 cubic inches more displacement. It ran with some of the quickest Mustangs of that era, with a 14.1 sec quarter mile at 100.6 mph. Car and Driver achieved an even better 13.9 secs at 102 mph with power shifting. It certainly was a substantial improvement over the Boss 302 it replaced and the extra displacement improved the low end response.
Car and Driver noted the improved steering and praised the Saginaw steering for its precise feel, but it had serious reservations about the suspension. Ford’s competition suspension consisted of very stiff springs which resulted in a “punishing ride.” However, unlike Chevrolet’s Camaro which had excellent dynamics, this Mustang did not have the dynamics to justify the overly stiff ride. Further, Mustang suffered from significant understeer. This certainly wasn’t an improvement over the Boss 302 predecessor, which had handling that Car and Driver praised for being well balanced. The 1971 Boss 351 had the ingredients for a decent suspension and it had the potential to be improved upon over the 1970 Boss, but ultimately the execution was poor. On the plus side, the large wide tires, stiff springs allowed for good lateral grip – just make sure you keep it on smooth roads.
Styling trends of the early 1970’s American muscle cars were taken to the extreme, and the 1971 Mustang falls into this category. Many, including me, like this extreme uninhibited styling, but it does come with compromise. The ’71 Mustang was definitely a stylist car and much of the other elements of the car were compromised to achieve the stylist vision. Car and Driver admitted the Mustang had attractive and attention getting styling, but much like a modern Camaro, the visibility of the Mustang was compromised for this styling. The long hood, low slung interior with high sills and large rear pillars made for terrible outward visibility and poor interior ergonomics. The styling not only made the car look larger than it was, it also made the car feel like it was much larger than it was when piloting it from the driver’s seat. The Mustang certainly no longer had the small agile feel of the original Mustang.
Undoubtedly, Car and Driver was impressed by the performance of the Boss 351 engine, but it was quite apparent the car did not live up their expectation of what they thought a proper GT car should be. In comparison, the Chevrolet Camaro of this time was generally better received, despite its same large size and lack of space efficiency. The 1971 Camaro was hindered by a lower compression LT-1, which didn’t perform as well as the Boss 351. However, the Camaro’s racy styling didn’t compromise visibility and it had some of the best handling dynamics of any American made car of that era. Even with less straight line performance than the Boss 351, the Camaro was simply a better executed performance car.
The Boss 351 was tested by numerous publications in 1971, but Motor Trend took had a unique comparison. It tested the Boss 351 along with two other variations of the Mustang. One was a Mach 1 equipped with a 429 CJ engine, making 370 hp (gross), while the other was equipped with the base 302-2V, making 200 hp (gross). Although the Mustang had changed considerably since its introduction, it still could be equipped for a wide variety of customer tastes, which was part of the original concept. This concept was very well executed in 1965, by 1971 things had gone off track somewhat.
As much as the high-performance and sporty image had helped sell Mustangs, the majority of the Mustangs sold were not high performance machines. The styling of the 1971 Mustang was raciest yet, and it sure looked like it was going 100 mph standing still. Nonetheless, this extreme styling compromised the Mustang when it was used for more ordinary transportation. One of these compromises noted by Motor Trend was that the low slung styling limited comfort for people over 5’10” tall.
Like Car and Driver, Motor Trend was impressed by the Boss Mustangs straight line performance. Interestingly, Car and Driver claimed its test car was probably the fastest Boss 351 you could get due to its expert tuning, but it actually had one of the slowest recorded times of the 1971 Boss 351 road tests. Motor Trend was able to beat the C/D time with, ripping through the quarter mile at 13.8 seconds and 104 mph. It handily beat the more powerful, but heavier and taller geared 429 CJ, which ran 14.61 secs at 96.8 mph. It was notable that the 429 Mustang was considerably heavier, about 350 lbs, which was attributed to the heavier engine, the automatic transmission, and the additional options, such as air conditioning. The weight distribution isn’t listed, but the 429 car would be significantly heavier on the nose, which certainly wouldn’t have helped with Mustang’s understeer.
Motor Trend was more tactful when addressing Mustangs handling, focusing on the improved lateral grip from the wider track, and the minimal body roll from the sway bars. Of course they do mention that power could be used to induce oversteer – a technique that would be helpful as the Mustangs inevitably starts plowing through the corners. Motor Trend complained of wheel hop problems with all three Mustangs.
The 302 Mustang is noted to have adequate acceleration and handling. Motor Trend says it doesn’t handle as badly as they expected, but their description of trying to violently induce oversteer to overcome understeer in corners doesn’t suggest it would be a corner carver by any stretch. Motor Trend claims that the 302 Mustang is the best buy of the group and was closest to the original Mustang concept. I would agree that this car was the closest to the original concept, but I have to question what, if anything about this particular ’71 Mustang is improved upon compared to a 1965 Mustang 289-2V?
The 1971 Mustang Boss 351 was an impressive performance car. It was one of the best performing Mustangs of the era, even if it wasn’t the most balanced or best handling. Had the Boss 351 been used in the lighter and better balanced 1970 Boss 302, it may have been remember as one of the most legendary Mustangs.
Nevertheless, despite all of its flaws, I like the Boss 351 Mustang. It looked great in my eyes, was fast and had one of the coolest muscle car engines of all time. It’s far from perfect, but what muscle car was?
I am in MPG shock. I kind of forgot when 7 or 8 MPG wasn’t anything to get too excited about. Today it’s appalling.
With a 20 gallon tank it’s less than 200 miles. I’m getting range anxiety! A quarter-mile at a time.
The C & D review says the styling is striking rather than beautiful: that’s about right, to me. Fascinating that the focus on outward visibility has simply disappeared from road tests today, even though the problem has got universally worse. Cars that feel big and which are a strain to see out are just draining. If you add in ’70’s standards of tyres, wipers and lighting, I’d far rather not be trying to guess my way home in this Mustang on some wet night in 1971. I did enough of it in the late ’80’s in ’60’s and ’70’s behemoths not to forget!
Quite low final drive on the C&D 351C car. The Aus Falcon GTHO 351C got 140 mph at 6100 revs (117 at 6100 this Stang), and only half a sec difference 0-60, though it did weigh 200 lbs less. Interesting too that the Falc was made to handle acceptably on the same-derivation platform, which I can say is true from actual experience about standard models from the era – apart from poor steering, they weren’t too bad. Not sure why a wider, lower version wouldn’t do better.
Anyway, due to the terrors mentioned (and I didn’t even mention the absence of meaningful brakes then), I wouldn’t drive the Stang (or Falc) any more. Pretty ornaments, though.
Once again you have great taste Vince. I am not generally a Mustang fan, but I love this generation of Mustangs, and Boss 351s are my favorite of them all.
I like them because they are so extreme and that’s what a musclecar is supposed to be. Make mine dark green with silver stripes, chrome bumpers and a tan interior
+1 Dan… That was a great color combination for these.
The Mustang’s life cycle sort of paralleled the Beatles. From hugely popular beginnings, by 1969-70 the Beatles were no longer the force they had been just a few years earlier. But they still sold a lot of records. The 1971 Mustang was kind of the same thing. “It’s not what it used to be” was a common sentiment with the car. But it handily outsold the Camaro every year of this generation.
This Mustang looked its very best in muscle car guise. The fastback, the stripes, and all the rest made for a very good looking package in 1971. It’s the one everyone things of now. The regular coupe was not all that compelling, much as had been the case in 1969-70.
As I think of it, very few cars freshly styled in 1969-71 aged all that well. Styles changed rapidly after that and what looked good during Peak Nixon got old quickly, much as the cars of 1957-59 had.
Say what you want, but I still like the looks of the ’71 thru ’73 Mustangs. By this time, emissions were choking the life out of the engines, but a ’71 thru ’73 Mustang convertible would find a warm, fuzzy spot in my abbreviated, suburban driveway.
Maybe Chicago on the AM radio, AMERICA on the 8 track, Deep Purple on the FM band. I can hear them all!!
It was the ’70’s; you had to be there to understand!!!🚗🚙
The “Car & Driver” article is a fine example of why “C&D” was the most popular car magazine in my house for over 30 years.
Today’s “C&D” reads like the editors have spent their lives hiding behind their computers and have never driven a variety of cars. Do these kids even have a driver’s license?
C&D sucks now. None of the Big 3 auto mags my library gets are worth the subscription. Even Motorcyclist and Cycle World have gone to the dogs.
James Bonds Mach1 on two wheels from “Live &Let Die made an impression on the British market. Quite a few on London’s roads in the early 70s. May be it was like looking out of a mail box slat bit this Stang had more presents than then even the Capri 3lt GT.
Sold thru a small number of dealers.
Diamonds are Forever
Odd how the Mustang struggled to find it’s way stylistically with several major sheet metal revisions and a platform change when the Camaro basically kept the same shell for almost 11 years.
GM came very close to killing the F-body after 1972. Sales had been very poor in 1972.
Sales increased for 1973, and then picked up dramatically for 1974 – which ran counter to overall market conditions. Camaro sales dipped only slightly for 1975, while Firebird sales actually increased (and this was another terrible sales year for the industry as a whole), so the F-bodies won a reprieve.
I count four vs. one
1) The last of the 2nd gen in 1970
2) Bloatstang from 1971-1973
3) Mustang II 1974-1978
4) Foxstang 1979-1980
1) Camaro introduced in 1970 went into the 80s with the same body, just different details like the changing bumpers from year to year and the larger rear window in the mid-70s
I don’t know about that, the 71-73 was identical minus the 73s crash bumper and revised grille, the Mustang IIs were identical from start to finish, and the foxbody was unchanged from 79-84(and lasted 14 years on the same body). The only sheetmetal changes that happened in this timespan were ground up platform changes. Meanwhile the Camaro was face and butt lifted in 1974 for the bumpers, altering the sheetmetal for wraparound taillights, and a redesigned rear window in 1975 altering even more sheetmetal.
Ford was trying to keep the Mustang relevant through rapidly changing times, Chevy was banking on absorbing the traditional Ponycar customers that Ford, Dodge, Plymouth and AMC left behind. Both strategies worked for both companies in the end, but I wouldn’t call Ford’s approach a struggle considering it led in sales most years, and by huge margins at times.
“Eleanor” will always have a place in my heart!
Great write-up, Vince!
To me, Eleanor will always be a ’67 or ’68 GT with a bastardized looking front end with Shelby GT-500 aspirations.
That being said, I’ve only ever seen the Nicholas Cage version of this movie, and not the original H.B. “Toby” Halicki film that is so loved here.
I saw the Nicholas Cage version first at an impressionable age, but I vastly prefer Halicki’s version despite its flaws, including Eleanor. “She’s the last of the Mustangs” was a nice bit of commentary on the upcoming Mustang II in the dialogue.
The remake made Eleanor look way too fashionable towards late 90s automotive trends with its ground effects and greyscale colors, presumably in attempt to attract import fans. I wish they would have just made it look like an actual 67 Shelby than overdo it with Foose mods. And I really hate that this launched a cottage industry that grabbed up every clean 67-68 fastback in the country to make into clones.
The Bullitt Mustang found in Mexico came very close to becoming one of these.
I have a special spot in my heart for a 1973 Mustang. They had the same styling as these, with the low fastback design, and some grille updates. A 73 Mustang was the second car I ever drove (#1 was the driving school Dart Swinger,), when I still had only my learner’s permit. My uncle rented one and took me out driving one day all over the neighbourhood.
Come to think of it, my youngest son drove a mid 2000s Mustang for his driving school car. I thought it an unwise selection at the time, but he has turned out to be a fine driver.
This was the last year for high compression ratios and gross horsepower ratings. The Boss 351 still had a lower specific output than the 1956 Chrysler 300B. Odd.
I think this generation of Mustangs was heavily influenced by the impact of the 1968 Dodge Charger, although the emulation is more marked in the notchback than it is with this fastback model. Incidentally, the 1971 Charger had a pretty similar profile to the Mustang notchback.
Advertised gross hp numbers were not reliable. They tended to be inflated during the early horsepower war of the mid-late 50s, and understated by this time, due to insurance and other social factors.
This Boss 351 undoubtedly had its advertised hp number pegged by factors other than what the dyno said. That’s based on its performance and specs.
Everyone knew that the 428 CJ’s 335hp rating was a joke. And others too, including this one.
It seemed like all the hp ratings on all the 1960’s FoMoCo FE engines were sour jokes on the buyers? Wildly optimistic? Wishful thinking?
I think Paul’s saying the rating on the 428CJ was laughably low. To say that it had only 10 more horsepower than a ’68 GT 390 was the joke. On the other hand, the 390 was almost certainly overrated.
Exactly. In the mid-60s they were inflating numbers to sell cars, in the early 70s they were being modest with numbers to fly under the radar of insurance and safety lobby, to continue selling cars.
One of the more telling pieces of evidence to this practice was from the 1971 Dodge brochures where the engines were listed in both gross and net power. The 340 was another small block like the 351C that punched way above it’s weight, and its corrected numbers show it. Both it and the venerable 383 2 barrel were rated at 275 gross, yet, the 340 only dropped to 235 net, whereas the big 383 dropped to 190!!!
“High Performance” variants not withstanding; on a more normal, everyday “Real World” level: My parents (and I also) always judged the 390 4-BBL “Thunderbird Special” engine in Mom’s wagon to be slower and less lively than the Mopar 383 4-BBL “Golden Commando” engine station wagon that the Ford replaced.
Look at my performance chart above to get a better idea of the performance. The “335 hp” 428 CJ was one of the eras quickest Mustangs, despite it’s low rating. The 390-4V on the other hand was significantly slower with only 10 hp less. The Boss 351 was also obviously underrated. Based on these performance times, I’d bet that it’s maximum output was close to the actual maximum output of the 428 CJ. Both had similar performance.
Regrettably, I never had the pleasure of driving a 428CJ car.
Several FE 352/390 engined Fords gave me the impression that they were torque monsters below about 1200 rpm….and then rapidly faded away as the revs built up.
From the comments here; perhaps a 428CJ may have modified my middling overall opinion of the FE class of engines?
XR7Matt, that Dodge brochure page shows just how “off” the gross ratings were. 230hp was still the gross rating on the LA 318-2v, yet the net had dropped from 177hp to 155hp in two years.
OK, Aaron, after reading thru this entire article several times,I can see your point of view here and ruefully admit that I misinterpreted Paul’s 428CJ remark.
That is a good point about the influence of insurance companies on the way cars were marketed towards the end of the muscle car era. I don’t think the 300B was particularly over-rated though, considering the size of the thing and that it set the production car record on the sand at Daytona Speed Week by running 142.9 MPH. That must have taken at least 270 net horsepower, and maybe considerably more.
The buttresses on the coupe are much more 68 Corvette than 68 Charger. The rest of the design is really just a trickledown of the previous 69-70 Shelby GT
Was there something that inspired four different car makers to feature rear window buttresses on their halo cars? The ’68 Dodge Charger, ’68 Chevrolet Corvette, ’68 AMC Javelin, and the ’71 Mustang (in coupe form)? ’71 DeTomaso Pantera would be included as well in that, featuring perhaps the best execution of the idea.
Maybe the Lotus Europa or some Italian design study from the mid 60s?
There are other sources too, but this is a prime one: 1962 Ferrari GTO.
Mike, actually it’s this version. The other one is just a fastback, as had been done for decades.
Of the many forms of buttresses, that’s likely the most directly emulated on these Mustangs, the 68 Vette and Jaguar XJ/S. The GM A body and Charger buttresses had a thickness to them that weren’t quite pure to the formula.
The 67-68 Mustang Fastbacks for sure aped the GTO fastback roofline. Mustang stylists clearly looked to Ferrari in their rooflines
Thanks, Paul, I wondered. But I’ve never seen that version before.
It all started here, with Pininfarina’s 1954 Ferrari 375 “Bergman”, below. There might have possibly been earlier applications, but the trend in the post war era started with this.
Packard had it in ’51, just a concept, though.
I think that the advantage to the buttress design is a side profile that looks like a fastback with a bigger more upright rear window. I have read that there is some aerodynamic advantages also.The Dodge Charger and ’66 Chevelle coupes had the “tunnel” backlight that accomplished much the same thing. I read a magazine road test of the ’68 Mustang fastback and the testers did not like the visibility of that design either. There were no quarter windows on that roof. I still want a 71-73 Mustang coupe to customize. They are still much cheaper than the fastbacks.
The ’68 Charger was just aping the buttresses on the ’66 GM A-Body coupes. Which in turn were influenced in part by Pininfarina’s 1955 Florida.
These seemed outsized even at the time. They were simply outclassed by the second-generation F-bodies, even if the Mustang did manage to outsell them. If anything, the Cougar of these years was better looking, as it had essentially given up pretensions of performance and was well on its way to morphing into a personal luxury car.
My main memory of these Mustangs is the Corgi diecast version of the fastback. That one did look sharp.
Car and Driver felt that the car would only be suitable for use in low-density environments with smooth, straight roads, such as in Nebraska. While certainly a striking looking car with a very large presence (I was surprised, after all these years, to learn how close it was in size to the Camaro), I am here to say that next door, in western Iowa, we had the same criticisms of the car. You did indeed feel like you were sitting down in the bottom of the bunker-even worse in the thinly padded back seats. At least there was enough head room back there that you didn’t get a concussion or need stitches when even the standard rear suspension bashed its way over a bump. And the standard V8 was not all that impressive, or economical. And it was dark, really dark in there. One of those cars where it looked like you were having a lot more fun if you were on the outside looking in, rather than on the inside not being able to look out. And wondering just exactly where the end of the car was, and what it was doing. It sure did look fast, though.
The tight seating and lack of interior space is the result of this Mustang using the same floor pan as the original ’65 Mustang. That was semi-acceptable then, but in the context of changing expectations and such a larger car, and exacerbated by the higher dash and window sills, it was now atrocious. I had some seat time in a ’71 Mustang Mach1, and it left a deep impression. More on that later today.
When I was writing this, I actually pulled up your Auto-biography as I recalled your disappointment with a ’71 Mustang. I re-read it and your account wasn’t all that much different than C/Ds.
One question I have though, you mentioned that it was a 330 hp Mustang you drove in your article? Was it a Boss 351? Or was it a Mach 1 with the M-Code 351-4V engine.
I substantially revised it last night before posting it again. I corrected that and added more detailed reminiscences of driving it. I’m quite sure it was a Mach 1 with the 280 hp 351HO. I would have remembered it if it had been a Boss 351.
I had a 68 Mercury Cyclone in the early 70s and quickly grew tired of the lack of visibility to the rear thanks to a nearly flat rear window. If I bought one of these Mustangs now it would probably be a convertible…the engine/transmission combination wouldn’t matter, or a Grande coupe with a 302 or 351.
I rode in one of my cousins 70s Camaros and was amazed by how long the hood looked and as a consequence how cramped the interior was in order to get that length.
But knowing what I know as far as the superior handling of the GM twins, I would be more likely to try to find a Camaro before a Mustang.
I remember very well my buddies and I dropping into a downtown Ford dealership to see the new 1971 models and standing in front of a Mach I utterly disappointed. There were others making negative comments too. Perhaps the 71 model was only slightly bigger than the previous generation, but oh my these new Mustangs looked bloated.
Some of the same design language from the 1971 Mustang carried over to the 1972 Gran Torino SportsRoof as well, which actually seems to wear the style and its bulky flanks much better. The ‘71 Mustang is sort of a star quarterback gone to seed, while the ‘72 Gran Torino is the former linebacker who is still in shape and has transitioned to a “Dad-bod” gracefully. Even though the 1972-76 generation of the Torino symbolizes peak malaise to me, the 1972 pre-safety bumper models can still be attractive from certain angles.
The author of this piece has one, and I was thinking the same thing when I looked at the pictures of the ’71 Boss in the article that Vince has highlighted here.
The magazine reviews are…underwhelming but honest. I do have to give them kudos for not glossing over the visibility and suspension issues. The Mustang doesn’t sound fun. I do suspect that if I’d been car shopping in 1971, I would have looked closer at a 302 or 351-2V Torino (remember the insurance companies were lowering the hammer on musclecars in 1971) if I’d been a Ford Man, or gone to see what the Mercury Capri was like for something closer to the original Mustang concept.
I’m sorry to say that I’ve never driven this generation of Mustang.
Yes, I had always though the ’71 Mustang and ’72 Torino had similar design traits. I like both, but I might prefer the Torinos a bit more. 😉 I agree with JPCs statement above. The cars from this time period aged quickly. I think this was the case with the Mustang and the Torino, more so with the Torino as it got altered with large bumpers, and new front and back end styling that was not consistent with the original design language.
The Mustang grew in length, width and weight, becoming the largest and heaviest Mustang to date.
You mean up to that date? Otherwise this generation got surpassed a good while ago.
2019 GT – 3,825 lbs, 188″ L x 75″ W x 54-55″ H
1971 Boss 351 3,560 lbs, 189.5 x 74.1 x 50.1
(Not to mention the upcoming elephant that is the Mustang Mach E)
Not often talked about on these Mustangs is the chrome steel bumper the Boss 351 used vs the Mach 1’s body colored one. I never much cared for the chrome “loop” effect of the base Mustangs but I do prefer the Boss’s understated use of the standard bumper with the otherwise identical Mach 1 face, it looks significantly better balanced.
On the subject of style, am I correct in my assumption that the hockey stick side stripe was exclusive to the Boss 351 and not available on the Mach 1 until later in the model year? It seems it’s eventual application to the Mach 1 was the writing on the wall for the boss’s exclusivity,
Current Mustang is larger than the 1971 in every measurement except one: Wheelbase
Matt, I meant to that date. I reworded it to make it more clear. I am aware how “large” the new Mustang has become. Multiple generations of Camaro were even bigger yet. Even the late 2nd generation F-bodies grew a fair bit larger than the early cars.
I actually preferred the colored bumper over the chrome one on the Boss 351. I always thought it was curious that the Boss 351 came with a chrome bumper. I agree though that the chrome loop bumper looked was by far the least attractive. While I like the Boss 351 or Mach 1 fastbacks, a base model formal roof with a chrome loop bumper has no appeal with me,
I am not sure on the hockey stick stripe. I always thought it was available throughout the year. I know the Boss 351 was produced right until the end of 1971, but production dropped by the end of the year. I also know that you could get the Mach 1 sans stripe if you chose to do so.
Most early press photos of the 1971 Mach 1 show it sans hockey stick stripe, including the Diamond are Forever one. It seems like it was following the 1970 style initially, with the lower body blackout and optional hood stripe.
I get the chrome bumper on the boss 351, it’s supposed to be a more strippo package like the previous Boss 302, also evidenced in the lack of honeycomb panel between the taillamps. The Mach 1s were the deluxe ones, basically performance fastback Grandes. The Boss 351 allegedly was supposed to be a 1971 Boss 302, and this early styling buck even shows it with the flat hood
This is a bit off the subject but here goes. Further thoughts on the crappy 4 cylinders in the Tempo & Topaz – If Ford has put half of the engineering effort and expense into the 4 cylinder that they put into the 351C they could have had a superb 4 cylinder that would have stood them in good stead for a long time. The 351 proves that Ford had talent available in spades. Of course in the short run there was much profit to had from an excellent V-8 but long term a great 4 cylinder could have captured enormous sales and maybe held off the Japanese.
The Boss 351 reminds me something Car and Driver said about the turbo V6 in the Buick Grand National: a great engine in search of a chassis to match.
Imagine if the Boss 351 had came out in 1968, the same year the great Mopar 340 was introduced.
Even if it was only for a short time, you could really get three solid small-blocks from the Big Three: the 340, the LT-1, and the Boss 351.
My dad’s “sold before I was born” Grabber Lime ’71 Mach 1 with the M-Code 351 has always left an indelible impression on me, so I like this body style for that reason alone. It’s perhaps not as enduringly attractive as a second-gen F-Body, but I’d still love to own one. Maybe I’ll add one to the fleet someday.
I think for all the hubbub over the various outside forces killing off big inch muscle cars, these highly potent smallblocks and further unabated development of them likely would have ultimately killed them off anyway. A Boss 351 did what a 428CJ did but without the massive FE weight penalty on the nose of a light and flimsy body.
As the 70s dawned intermediate bodied Muscle cars were clearly falling out of favor in the performance market by ponycars and compacts like the Novas and Dusters. The intermediates could handle the ~200lb extra weight penalty of big blocks in their heavier bodies without terrible side effects in balance and handling, but the smaller cars all suffered in one way or another, be it the poor handling and braking, the maintenance headaches like changing spark plugs in a cramped engine compartment, or even the equipment limitations like not having enough room for air conditioning or power steering systems. I have little doubt these were all greenlit to fully supplant big blocks from the performance market had it continued through the 70s.
I spent a lot of time in the passenger seat and some time behind the wheel of my friend’s ’71 429 Mustang, and I was unimpressed all around. It wallowed compared to the ’71 Z-28 a friend had, and was a lot slower, too. My 360 Roadrunner beat the Stang with just a couple of mods, nothing much at all. Removing the OSC thing in the vac advance, and a timing bump with premium gas made it able to take the Mustang 9 out of 10 times we went up against each other one day. He only won the one race because I tried to launch at too high an RPM, and blew the tires off. I couldn’t beat the guy with the 351 I ran up against another time though, but I was close. Styling wise, I didn’t like the ’71-73 much at all, but it was preferable to what was coming with the Mustang II. I will be honest, I’ve never liked the Mustang’s styling a whole lot. My friend has a ’19 Bullitt, and it does nothing much for me, looks wise. But it’s vastly better than the Camaro of today, which is a total mess. The Challenger may be a boat, but it’s a great looking one, and it was an easy pick the first time and the second time, too. And it’s hard to imagine a better car to drive across country in.