Subjective Question: To Boss or to Mach 1?

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Michael O’Harran

Well-known member
Jan 4, 2022
Reaction score
Maryland region south of DC
My Car
1972 Mach 1 Mustang 351C
Currently Under Restoration
I was looking for clarity that may or may not exist, but I feel this is the best place to ask this question. I here the hype of the Boss title and see that they are usually accompanied with a 302 motor, what Mach 1 also gets boasted, but it feels its less desirable than a Mach 1, but it was a 351 motor. May that is because the Boss title was stopped and therefore more desired, because you couldn't have it anymore? The 72 R-Code is a rare car yes, but I often here it noted as the 72 Boss of 1971 with decreased HP, so people are still trying to pull that title after it was stopped. So my questions to the group are;

Which is better, a Boss or a Mach 1? (when I say better I mean in the sense of design/power, not preference)
What is different about them and why is one better than another?
If the 72 R-Code is the same as the 71 Boss, why did it not be given the name?
The 1969 and 1970 Boss cars were either Boss 302 or Boss 429. In 1971, the only Boss was the Boss 351. All three had specially prepared engines that put out higher performance, so were not your "run of the mill" 302's, 351's or 429's. The Boss cars were usually low option cars as they were meant for racing, but could be ordered with most options. The 1972 HO was also a 351 and had many of the aspects of the Boss 351, but was detuned with a different cam and lower compression. That was probably why it didn't get the Boss name. Also in 1972, Ford started using SAE net horsepower ratings, which yielded lower HP numbers.
The Mach 1 from 1969 to 1973 was an appearance package that was available with any V8 engine, that could also be ordered with various performance packages (except Boss only package).
As far as better, it all depends on what you're after, performance or styling, and which level of each you want.
And, don't forget value. You'll likely pay a lot more for a good Boss 351. They only made 1806 of them. Mach 1's are more plentiful, but a good one will still not be cheap.
If I were looking to buy another and had the choice between a Boss 351 and a Mach 1, both in similar condition and price, needing about the same level of restoration, I'd buy the Boss and that would be for potential future value. The one big problem with the Boss is rebuilding the motor as some of the parts are now unobtainium as far as I know. Pistons (in .030" oversize) for instance. Without those, it's basically just another 351C.
Wow. These are so comprehensive and detailed. Beyond informative. I can't know how little was retained, but great reference for details if I find myself in need. Thanks again.