Rare Find: 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Hiding in Plain Sight in a Plater’s Shop
Bob Perkins first saw this Bright Yellow 1970 Boss 302 Mustang more than 20 years ago in a storage shed at his plater’s house. He says, “His name is Mike Wagner. He moved the car down to his plating shop, oh, about 15 years ago. That’s why it’s so dirty. It was in one of the back rooms of Electro Plating in Fond du Lac, Michigan.”
Mike Wagner has retired, but his Electro Plating cadmium plating shop in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, is running strong. Bob Perkins said, “It’s rare to find a shop that does cadmium plating, and cadmium was what Ford used on most of its fender bolts and plated parts.”
Wagner owned the Boss 302 for “at least 25 years,” and he has other collector Mustangs, including a Boss 351. His wife drives a 390 GT Mustang, and he bought a Hi-Po fastback brand new that was the first one received in the state of Wisconsin.
Being an enthusiast is probably why Wagner’s shop does cadmium plating, which is “rare,” Perkins said, due to the hazardous nature of this chemical and disposal protocol.
“He’s done all my plating work for 35 years.”
Perkins is the Head Authenticity Judge for the Mustang Club of America and the premier restorer and collector of Boss Mustangs in the world. Plating is a big deal to him, as are Boss Mustangs.
One day last summer, Perkins and his friend Jackie Jones, a well-known Ford dealer and Mustang collector from Georgia, were driving from Perkins’ place in Juneau, Wisconsin, to Jim Cowles’ shop in Green Bay. When Perkins stopped at Electro Plating to drop off some parts to be plated, he asked his friend Wagner to show Jones the Boss 302 in the back.
Wagner said yes, and then surprised the other two men when he said, “You know, Bob, I’m ready to let that car go.”
“We talked a little bit, and then Jackie said, ‘Well, make him an offer on the car.’ Jackie had a customer in Georgia wanting a Boss 302 to restore.”
This Boss 302 was just right for a restoration. Neither Perkins nor Jones cared about the miles, which Perkins said “did not matter” on this Boss 302, as it was going to be restored anyway.
The Boss 302 had the three major goodies that enthusiasts crave, starting with the very hot shaker hoodscoop for ram air, followed by rear window slats (louvers), and a decklid-mounted rear spoiler. The interior is standard, but the steering wheel is the more desirable rim-blow variety with three spokes.
The engine compartment is complete, and the car starts and runs. Muscle cars like this at an affordable price are very hard to find.
The Boss 302 proved, in Perkins’ estimation, to be “fairly complete and solid” and was a “running, driving car” when Wagner “put it away.”
Why did Wagner sell? The timing was right. Perkins knows his friend had intentions of “fixing the car,” as he has done with other Mustangs. But, “he sold the business to the kids and just decided he’d rather take the motor home and be on vacation than spend hours and hours in the shop fixing another car when he already has too many to drive and maintain.”
This transaction was completely transparent. Perkins and Jones told Wagner their intentions to sell the Boss 302 to one of Jones’ customers in Georgia. The transaction was done among collectors, each one involved in the car business. The Boss 302 would go to a good home; and all parties involved—the seller, Bob Perkins and Jackie Jones, and the buyer—came away happy.
The interior is standard but has the optional three-spoke, rim-blow steering wheel.
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