Almost Perfect: 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 351

Reading, reading, reading….all sounds pretty good. The right options. Unrestored but still presentable. Gosh, it’s all there! Let’s see, engine details: “The engine is not the original.” And there it goes, the wind out of my sails. Still, this 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 351 remains a desirable car, especially in largely unmodifed condition. Find it here on eBay where bids are over $16K and the reserve is unmet.

Is the lack of a matching engine a deal breaker for you? It does beg the question that when cars are otherwise the best that the survivor breed has to offer, can we forgive them for a let-down like a non-matching motor? Well, it depends on a few things, namely the price and what your intentions for the car are. A concours restoration for Pebble Beach wouldn’t make much sense, but preserving it for cruise nights at the local drive-in absolutely does.

And at the current bidding rate, you’re already cutting into potential profits before even addressing what to do with the incorrect engine up front (if you’re inclined to restoring and selling later on). Fortunately, the rest of the Mustang does look very good: the interior is impressively clean and it sports a manual transmission. Power steering and an AM/FM stereo make the interior a pleasant place to spend time, and it’s nice to see an original carpet that isn’t stained beyond recognition.

While the engine bay is quite tidy, it could also be a constant source of disappointment (instead of displacement!) if you’ve been holding out for a numbers-matching example. And with a rare car like this Boss 351, the original engine is somewhat essential to driving home a high sale price for the seller. Bidders don’t seem to mind the non-matching engine, which may say a lot about the scarcity of survivor grade cars and what buyers are willing to tolerate. Would you buy this Boss or hold out for another?


  1. CCFisher

    ALL Boss Mustangs originally came with manual transmissions, even the late-model variants.

    Like 1
  2. flmikey

    I can’t tell…is the replacement engine a boss 351 engine? Super nice car, but I wonder what the reserve is…hope he doesn’t think it’s worth 100K since he references that price in the description….

    Like 1
  3. JP

    Once again the term ‘survivor’ is used incorrectly and he even goes as far as calling it an ‘excellent survivor’. Survivors don’t have rust holes all over them and a mystery motor. I would hesitate to call my car (a ’70 Torino GT convertible with 57k and numbers matching) a survivor and it has zero rust. Being sold out of Philadelphia explains the rust too bad.

    Like 1
  4. Bill

    The photos are poor quality. The motor isn’t original. Any work done to stop the corrosion would mean it’s now a restoration. The car has potential, but I don’t think the seller is going to let this go for a reasonable amount.

    Like 1
  5. JW

    I may be wrong but that motor looks to be a 351C, the thermostat housing looks to be in the block not the intake which 351C’s have dry intakes ( No Coolant Flow ) and the valve covers look to be 351Cs. His pictures are not that good so I could be wrong but I would have to take a closer look before bidding.

  6. M/K

    A boss 351 IS a 351 c but it’s the best of the breed. My mind wrestles between a 73 T/A and the 71 boss 351 as my all time favorite car. No brand loyalty here

    • JW

      I was under the impression a Boss motor was a 351W with 351C heads.

      • RollerD

        A Boss 351 is a 4 barrel Cleveland head 351 4 bolt block with a solid cam, aluminum intake and Autolite 4 barrel. It has nothing to do with a 351 Windsor. Also different rods, forged pistons, dual point distributor and other minor changes. I might be over looking some details but that is the important part.

        Like 2
      • 68 custom

        351 boss was a beefy Cleveland block with four bolt mains, large valve head, dual point distro etc. nothing like a 351 Cleveland 2 barrel or a 351 Windsor. rare breed, to bad it’s (the motor) gone…

      • Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

        You are thinking of the 69-70 Boss 302.

  7. Rustytech Member

    I think it’s kinda funny. For years these Mustangs 71 to 73 languished. True Mustang guys denied they were “real” Mustang, then a couple years ago they started growing in stature, and value. Now all the hand ringing is over the Mustang Lloyd , maybe I should buy one of those now, while their still “cheap”, you never know what the future will hold! These ponies were over grown, handled poorly, visibility was terrible, dash was too high, seats too low. Needless to say it was not my favorite generation Mustang. Looks nice for what it is, but not for me.

    • Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

      These have always had some fans – the Boss 351 in particular. It’s arguably the best engine ever offered in a 60s or 70s Mustang.

      Like 1
    • Mike H. Mike H

      With only 1,806 examples made, and only offered for 1971, the Boss 351 has always been a very desirable car. If this one can be verified as a Boss 351 as originally built then it would have actual value even as a rusted out hulk, same as the earlier Boss 429’s are.

      Were these great cars to drive? No, not really. Lousy handling, but the performance of the 1971 Boss 351 was better than the Mach I 428 of the same year, and if I recall it was the fastest 0-60 car produced in America for the 1971 model year (don’t quote me on this as I am harkening back to my very dusty memory of “facts” about this car in particular).

      Seller will likely get what he wants for this car eventually. While the price will be dear, there are pockets who see the potential.

      • rich voss

        Mike – I owned (ordered and bought new) one & not poor handling IMHO. Yes, it was fast. Faster than Vette fast, when necessary. Perhaps I should say “quick” off the line. High numeric gear and Traction-Loc.
        Mine was metallic silver with matte black, and again, IMHO, far better looking than the black version. Mine also had the sport seat package, which is nicer than this one. I’m tall, so the seat position vs windows were never a problem for me. Rear window vision not as bad as my buddy in Germany’s Lotus Europa first edition…LOL !

      • Geof O

        Great info Mike H. In 1979 I was the very happy teenage owner of a Raven Black 1971 Boss 351 Mustang. Mine had the Magnum 500 wheels unlike this one. I have never seen one without the Magnum 500’s.
        I miss that car everyday. Unfortunately it was stolen. Someday, some way I only hope to own another one. It has to be Raven Black though! Kudos to the owner of this one. Enjoy. And to all other Boss 351’s!

      • bog

        Geof O – Yep, mine was stolen too, only mine was new, ordered by me from the factory. So, out of just over 1800 cars, my “Marti” could have been “one of five” ? Hard to say as I finally threw out the window sticker and my copy of the order form a while back. I just posted it’s photo today. I originally had the dog-dish and chrome rings & I saw other guys with that too. They were far “easier” to keep clean in the harsh Winters. So, Winter package, Summer package as we often do here. It was actually awful sometimes to drive in the Winter regardless, snow or slush over ice…slight incline in stop and go. Blech ! Mine was silver/black/black…

        Like 1
  8. Moparmann Member

    I never cared for the flat hub cap/trim ring option…give me Magnums! That silver color rear tail light panel looks weird to me, other than that, I like this car (from a Mopar guy!) :-)

  9. S Ryan

    Looking at all the pictures it’s hard to believe it’s almost at $20,000.
    Not a bad car, but will need a lot of work.
    Check the window sticker. 7 gal. gas for a total of $2.33. Ah the 70s.

    Like 1
  10. David Miraglia

    Loved the mustangs ,since I was born in the year of the mustang 1964. My all American muscle car favorite.

  11. Rob S

    First off, who takes pictures of a black car in the shade??
    This is missing its healthy heart. There is thousands of Dollars and countless hours on the Internet needed to bring just the engine compartment back to where it needs to be. Small holes in the trunk? You could drop a 3/4 wrench through those holes!! Gonna need a full pan, good amount of work! This going to need a full resto which equals big bucks. However, it is the Right color combo, these are gorgeous in black! If you hadn’t driven one of these in good tune, you are really missing out! Pulls like a 428 SCJ, revs like a T/A BOSS 302. Smoked a few big block bowties and blue ovals. They handle well too!
    Hopefully the picture will load…

    Like 1
    • Jason


    • Geof

      Well now this pic took me back to 1979! Reminds me of how clean I kept mine. Going out for a cruise or a date!
      Or out on the prowl for unsuspecting Chevys. They thought my Boss was some fake Boss. And after ringing them out and taking their money, I happily undid the hood screw downs and popped it open.
      Never failed to impress. Miss my Boss 351 even more now. Keep the Boss 351’s alive and running guys.
      They are getting expensive to buy.

  12. MorganW Morgan Winter

    Seems like the replacement motor is not a Boss…part ID stamped on block should be DOAE-L, not DOAE-J.

    Like 1
  13. Jim

    something is up. A black car parked, I think, purposely in the shade and many of the pictures are ten footers.

    Like 1
  14. James

    Yup, another one I found long ago that has been held in economic prison. (like the recent orange Pantera). I was able to buy two Maverick Grabbers and a Grabber Green 4spd shaker hood 351C Mach 1 from the family of the owner that passed away several years ago. While those cars were priced to me reasonably, for some reason the brother always thought this car was worth way more than it was really worth. Periodically i would check to see if there was any new hope. Apparently something changed and now it is free and being flipped. The owner had also amassed a huge hoard of NOS 1971 parts for the car. Priced at $45k for the lot (car and parts), it was supposed to include two NOS 71 351 Boss Autolite carbs which alone were worth about $3,500 each. However, on closer inspection the carbs were NOT Boss carbs and the one on the car wasn’t either. At the time I was told it WAS the original engine. Last offer I made was $38k for everything. and he said no way. He priced the car alone at $35k and I said no way. Sometimes you just have to walk away. This was one of those times. I figured the parts were worth about $20k, but it would have taken a LONG time to sell them and there were a LOT of small stuff like sending units and small trim. I’m glad to see it out of prison though and hopefully someone will give it a good home.

    Like 1
    • Jim

      Hello James – Do you know what ever happened to his NOS parts?

  15. Rob S

    The auction ends at $27,766!! That’s alot of money for a 71 BOSS car in this shape. Could be shill bidding, we will see if it comes back up for sale. Then again factory black seems to fetch a little more, rare and desirable color.

    Like 1
    • rich voss

      Rob S – perhaps someone has an actual 71 BOSS engine out there and an even worse car. It’s happened. As much as I like “black” (my current car is one),
      the Boss shows how big it’s “bustle” is in that color AND all the imperfections that this car has. It also appears that there was some serious “snow plowing” done with the front spoiler. I took both spoilers off my 71 BOSS in the Fall here in Chicagoland to avoid those “issues”…. Oh, yeah..Metallic Silver.

      Like 1
  16. Rob S.

    Every once in awhile you can catch a boss coming up for sale. I sometimes think about snatching one up “just in case” I find a car needing a correct motor.
    I really like pewter (silver) color! Had one of those as well. Post a picture of your Boss up here, would love to see it.

    Like 1
    • bog

      Rob S – Hoping this picture posts, have had trouble doing that before. My computer’s getting “long in the tooth”. Doubt I’d get another, though I loved mine while I had it. Then it was stolen and all the things that made it a BOSS were stripped off & out. The police eventually found it, and when I saw it at the impound I cried. My insurance company gave me a choice of totalling it or rebuilding, my choice. It chose to take the money and walk away. Hard choice, but I immediately thought that if it could be stolen and stripped (and beat up) once, it could happen again.

      • Geof

        That Silver was the opposite paint colour as mine. Always had the crazy idea of one day owning one of each!
        Yeah it does look great!

        Like 1

Leave a Reply to Mike H Cancel reply

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.