The most iconic of all muscle cars, the Ford Mustangs of 1970 yield the mysteries behind the mystique.
While the Plymouth Barracuda and Pontiac GTO narrowly beat it to market in 1964, it’s the Ford Mustang, perhaps more than any other car, that is associated with classic American muscle. This iconic status has meant car lovers and serious collectors alike revere the Mustang for its performance and its distinctive styling.
Due to poor sales that year, and therefore a shortened production run, the 1970 Ford Mustang is the most collectible of the first-generation Mustangs. For instance, the Boss 429 had only approximately 500 units ever made, making it a highly sought after and highly valued trim often auctioning for over $200,000 and sometimes close to $300,000.
But to understand the 1970 Mustang, we’ve got to look at its predecessor the ‘69 Mustang.
The ’69 Mustang had some bold design features, so bold in fact that the company scaled many of them back when designing the 1970 Mustang. Protruding taillights were again recessed, hood pins were turned into hood latches, the rear quarter panel simulated intakes (a Mustang signature) were dropped entirely for the 1970.
The grill got a makeover too. The quad head lights were reduced back to two and the grill was widened. The red, white and blue Mustang emblem was also moved back from the driver’s side to the center of the grill. In back, the ’69 had featured a concave rear panel, but the ’70 models went flat. Also, in back, a couple of neat features of the 1970 Mach-1s were the honeycomb rear panel, bold “Mach 1” lettering, and a pop-open gas cap.
As with nearly all 60’s and 70’s muscle cars, the ‘69 and ‘70 Mustang came with an overabundant selection of motors. There were two rather wimpy I-6s at 200 and 250 cubic inches respectively, which put out 115hp and 155hp. Hardly what we think of as Mustang numbers. From there were 5 different V-8 options to choose from, the 302 and 351 being the most common you’ll find today. There was also a 390 putting out 320hp and two Boss engines, the 428 and the ultra-rare 429. The latter had an output conservatively billed 375hp but was likely closing in on 500hp. Reportedly, Ford had Kar Kraft heavily modify the 428 Cobra’s engine compartment to fit the massive big-block 429.
Inside the ’70 Mustang, things were generally kept simple, excepting the Grandé trim which we’ll get to in a minute. Aesthetically Ford modeled the Mustang’s interior on a cockpit, keeping it fairly spartan and focusing heavily on the driving experience with a large four-dial instrument cluster dominating the dashboard. Knob shifters were used for the 3 and 4 speed manuals, a pushbutton handle used for the 3-speed automatic. Look for the standard Hurst shifter on the Boss 302 versions. The upholstery came in just two styles, black or white leather. Faux-woodgrain paneling along the dash and doors was a popular add-on across trims.
The Grandé trim was Ford’s attempt to lend some upscale panache to the tough muscle car. Each Grandé featured a Landau vinyl roof and offered 45 different options including high-back bucket seats, extra-thick carpeting, racing style mirrors, and chrome rocker panel moldings to name only a few. The block lettering of Grandé in the 1969 version was altered to script lettering in 1970.
Depending on your preference in performance, and the depth of your wallet, there’s probably a 1970 Mustang to suit you. There are a whole gang of Coupes, mainly of the Boss 302 variety and Fastback Mach 1 351s to be had. Both saw significant production runs, 118,000+ and 72,000+ respectively. A bit rarer are the non-Mach-1 fastbacks, Grandés, and convertible variants.
The most sought after of the 1970 Mustangs are the Boss 302 and Boss 429 versions. While the Boss 302 is relatively scarce, with little over 7,000 produced, the Boss 429’s truly a rare pony with only 499 ever made. Be on the lookout for Boss 302s with swapped out motors. There are a number of restored 302s lurking out there with replacement 351s.
Original Boss 302s and Mach 1s with the 428 motor both run upwards of $70-80,000. The pinnacle of the first-generation Mustangs is that highly sought after 1970 Boss 429, often topping $250,000.
As we’ve detailed above, the 1970 Mustang is singular both in style and substance. The relative rarity has buoyed the value of these Mustangs. Their unique look, an odd combination of bold and buttoned up, has collectors and passers-by turning their heads. Our recommendation would be the Mach-1 fastback with optional 428 would be the 1970 ‘Stang to go for, with its big-block engine, the stylin’ Hurst manual shifter handle, and the honeycomb rear panel. Find a “Twister Special” (96 special editions sold exclusively at Kansas Ford dealerships) and you’ve got something to contend with the Bullitt Mustang for baddest Mustang of all time.