Biff's Rap Reborn on the Net
Articles taken from the pages of PonyTalk

Biff Hitzeman, a long time native of Hicksville, Ohio, is an avid car enthusiast and a long time friend of mine. (We went to high school together at different schools, right, Biff?) He personally has restored more cars than than anyone I know outside of a body shop. He was very instrumental in the location and restoration of my Shelby Cobra GT 350. I think he likes the restoration part mostly because he never holds on to one. He once told me you should never fall in love with a car. (Does that apply to women, Biff?) An artisan when it comes to restoring old cars, he's brought some fine cars back from the dead. I've even seen him work on lots of Mustangs & Fords and even some non-Fords. His latest project is a rare Ford station wagon. He's also a refugee from Bowling Green State University's journalism school. It was his fault I took over PonyTalk or did we both decide that, Biff? There are archives on the cars, helpful information as well as some great pictures. Promise you it will all be worth reading. You might find the information you are looking for. Probably make you smile, if nothing else.

Biff wrote a series of articles on the Carroll Shelby's GT 350 & 500 Mustangs. I've included them with some small pictures of each year of the car with the story. Check them out. Read about a piece of automotive history, the Shelby American Cars.

If you're an Old Fort Mustanger and hitting this page, be sure to let me know. Or if you're just a Mustang fanatic and appreciate what you see and read. Go to the Table of Contents

Table of Contents of Biff's Rap PonyTalk articles:

  • Helping a Friend, the story of finding Dennis's '68 GT 350
  • The 1965 Shelby Mustang GT 350, the beginning
  • The 1966 Shelby Mustang GT 350, the Hertz years
  • The 1967 Shelby Mustangs, the BIG blocks and the end of the Hi Po 289
  • The 1968 Shelby Mustangs, the convertible and GT 500 KR
  • The 1969 Shelby Mustangs, End of a legend
  • Back to Biff's Page
  • Dennis Begley's 68 GT 350
  • Go to the legend on the bottom of this page

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    Biff's Rap

    Mustang Boss 429

    by Biff Hitzeman from the pages of PonyTalk

    nice pix of a 69 Boss 429

    In the late 60's, high performance and racing was real popular. Shelby's Mustangs & Cobras had set the pace. In 1969 Ford one upped Shelby American by the introduction of the Boss Mustangs. Shelby's Mustangs had become more civilized. The 1968 Shelby Mustangs were more boulevard racers than the all out earlier GT 350s. So in 1969 Ford offered its own "Shelby" Mustangs, the Boss 302 and 429. Chrysler dominated the NASCAR circuit in the late 60's. Ford was determined to be #1.

    In order to beat the Hemi-powered Superbirds & Daytonas, Ford had to develop a special model and 500 of them had to be offered to the public. The sleek bodied Torino Talladagas and the new Mercury Cyclone Spoiler, powered by 428 CJ. Ford wanted to use its new "Blue Crescent" semi-hemispherical 429. To qualify the engine for use, it was offered in the highly successful Mustang.

    The result was three fold. First, Ford completely dominated NASCAR, destroying Chrysler's hold. Secondly, the new 429 gave Ford a strong, new challenge to the drag racing world. And finally, the Mustang now met every need a buyer wanted fulfilled. A stock Mustang, a new Mach I, Shelbys, a Boss 302 and now the ultimate Mustang, the Boss 429. All Boss 429 Mustangs left the factory as 428 CJ Mach I's, sold on paper to Shelby American. They were shipped to Ford's own racing division, Kar Kraft, in Bridgton, MI. After the conversion from Mach I to Boss, the cars were re-invoiced to dealers for awaiting customers.

    The Boss 429 program started Jan. 5, 1969. By the end of the production year 857 Boss 429's were produced, serial numbers 1201-2059. Interestingly enough, two Boss 429 Mercury Cougars Eliminators #1684 & 1685 were included. The 1970 Boss 429 Mustang was lower at 499, Kar Kraft #'s 2060-2558. A total of 1,356 Boss 429 Mustangs were made and two Mercury Cougar Eliminators Boss 429s.

    During those two years, Kar Kraft used two types of Semi-Hemi 429s. The 820S design, of which 279 were used, was a heavy duty version with rods with floating pins, a hydraulic cam, 1/2" rod bolts and cast magnesium valve covers. The remaining Bosses got the 820T engine. It had either hydraulic or mechanical cam, rods with pressed pins, 3/8" rod bolts. Both engines had 4-bolt mains, forged aluminum pop-up pistons, aluminum heads and much more. Advertised horse power ratings were 375, a more realistic figure is 500+ HP.

    All Boss 429's came with 4 speeds and a 3.90 Daytona style rear end. Traction, if possible, was with 7" wide F60X15 performance tires mounted on chrome Magnum 500s.

    The '69 Boss 429 was offered in Raven Black, Wimbleton White, Royal Maroon, Candyapple Red and Black Jade. Black, top of the line Mach I interior was included. For 1970, the exterior colors were Grabber Orange, Calyspo Coral, Grabber Blue, Pastel Blue and Grabber Green. White was added as an interior color.

    These sleek, especially prepared & lowered Mustangs had many modifications. Exterior changes were rolled under wheel openings to accommodate the tires, a manually operated Tunnel Ram scoop that really worked.

    Its easy to see how Ford lost a lot of money on the $5,000 priced Boss 429s. They were very special modified Mustangs at a bargain price. But remember I said all these cars were sold to Shelby American. And the loss appeared on Shelby's books not Ford's. This was the final straw for the Shelby/Ford relationship.

    Thanks to Fabulous Ford Magazine for the information. Next time you see Chuck & Wanda Edward's '69 Boss 429, think about this article. You can see why they are the proud owners of one of the rarest production cars ever built.

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    Biff's Rap

    The 1971 Mustang Boss 351

    by Biff Hitzeman from the pages of PonyTalk

    The Boss 351 According to Fabulous Mustangs

    The year 1971 would be the end of the Boss stylists Larry Shinoda and "Bunky" Knudsen at Ford. Having taken Ford to the front of the pack in Trans-Am racing in the 69-70 seasons with their Boss 302. Both these designers would leave Ford in '71. Their final Boss, the 351, is one of the rarest of all the specialty Mustangs.

    Ford built a total of 1,806 units, only one year, and only the "sports roof" model. The '71 Mustang, designed on a longer wheel base and a fat 600 pounds heavier than any previous Mustang.

    The Boss 351 is powered by the special Cleveland 351 with special 11-1 Pop-up pistons, a stroke/bore of 4:00 X 3:50, special heads with very large cantered valves, solid lifters, screw-in studs with much, much more. A very low 5800 RPM range developing 380 horses, without gernading like the Hi-Rev Boss 302.

    Designed for the Trans-Am in mind, but never used, the Boss 351 was very nimble with special handling package and suspension like staggered shocks, front/rear sway bars, plus 3:91 gears. Ford advertised the Boss "out of the box, turning mid 13s at the 1/4 mile." Tested against several other muscle cars like the 454 Chevelle, Hemi Challengers, '70 Boss 429, the 455 Olds 442s and the 'Cuda Six-Pack 440 and even the 428 Cobra-Jet, it dusted them all off. Yes, very quick indeed.

    Ford would not see any muscle car again until the SVO and 5.0 GT Mustang. It's ironic that Ford, due to the energy crunch and emission controls would separate from the race image, dumping fine stylists and talent like Carroll Shelby. Thanks, Ford, for finally seeing the light in the rebirth of Ford Racing, once again becoming #1. Biff

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    Helping a Friend
    Finding and bringing Home Dennis's 68 GT 350
    by Biff Hitzeman from the pages of PonyTalk

    Boy, it was getting really cold out. But after locating the red '68 Shelby, that could be purchased that night only for a very reasonable price, it didn't seem to matter how cold it was. A quick trip to the bank and Dennis had the cash. Off we went to Defiance. I've dealt on cars in about all conceivable ways but this night would indeed be a first.

    The car had been for sale for sometime. No one would pay the owner's price. A collector from Toledo, who buys Shelby's only, had finally made a deal to buy it. He was bringing a trailer to pick it up in but the weather had keep him away. Most likely he would be there the following day which was a Saturday. The owner had been unemployed for several months and was in real need of some money. So there we were, 5 below zero, slowly walking around this '68 Shelby buried in the snow.

    It was indeed a steal at the quoted price, but the owner just kept saying, "I just wouldn't feel right selling the Shelby to someone else after making the deal with the man from Toledo". Then, as if from an old George Burns & Gracie Allen film, his wife comes out to see what it going on and to remind him they had to go bowling soon. She wanted to know what we were doing there then ended the conversation with, "After all, it is my Shelby and that wouldn't bother me". I gave a nod Dennis. He pulled a roll of $100 bills from his pocket, started counting it out on the hood of the car and added $500 to the price. She scooped the money up, went inside and got the title. Her husband never had a chance to argue.

    As they dug out the title, I began to unload the Shelby: five tires, three on rims, two tackle boxes and four fishing poles (one had a big ole' Rapela lure caught in the rear carpet) and enough pop cans to fill three trash bags. Their kids had made a playhouse in it.

    The 302 turned over but it was obvious the engine hadn't been started for a while. Under the hood we noticed a broken header. Of course, the gas tank was empty. Off we went to a station. Have you ever tried to haul gas in your car without spilling any? We'd driven Dennis's new '83 Turbo 280ZX Datsun and knew if we'd spill a drop in it Chris, his wife, would kill us. Finally fueled up, the Shelby was running again.

    It was very dark and very cold by this time. The clutch slipped as Dennis started to pull the tires free from the ice. The right front tire finally broke loose from the ice but so did the tire from the rim. And the spare was flat. Dennis threw it in the rear of his 280ZX and headed to a gas station. Meanwhile, I removed the front flat. Spare on, we're off again. About three miles down the road, the car died. Looking the situation over, the battery had a crack in it and alternator wasn't charging. Off we went, twenty miles back to Hicksville to get the heavy duty battery from my '67 Mustang GTA and to get Dennis's '66 Mustang coupe to help the efforts.

    Now you can only drive so long on a battery only. That means no lights, no heater, etc. We sure couldn't leave the Shelby out on the backroads we were traveling on. The license plates weren't any good, either. So I ran interference with the '66 Mule. Dennis had that Shelby right on my bumper. If we`d been stopped by the police, it would have taken a lot of explaining. And if all that wasn't bad enough, the door lock on the passenger door was frozen and wouldn't stay locked or closed. Both of us realized that would be a problem when Dennis turned a corner and the door flew open, just missing a mailbox. He had to reach across and hold the door closed the whole trip. I thought sure tying that seatbelt to the door would hold it.

    I don't think I'll ever forget the look on Chris's face as Dennis coasted to a stop in his driveway with his super buy. But then again I get the same looks often around my house. Biff

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    Biff's Rap

    Mustang Hi-Country Special

    by Biff Hitzeman from the pages of PonyTalk

    As the 1968 Mustang production was in full swing and Ford had just introduced to the drag racing world the April Fool '68 1/2 428 cobra jet Mustang, a dealer in the Denver, Colorado, felt the need for something special for his area dealership. No, not just a California Special edition, but a High Country Special. These limited edition Mustangs were estimated at a production level of 1000 units. Much like the California Special, all these High Country Specials were built at the San Jose, California, plant. They were offered with three engine packages, the new 302, the 390 "Thunderbird Special", and a very rare 428 Cobra-jet package with the '69 style hood with a functional hood scoop. Offered with either a 4-speed or a C-6 automatic transmission, they all received the GT optional suspension package which included the 9-inch rearend, power disc brakes, power steering, and GT wheels and caps. The exterior featured the Shelby quarter-side scoops, special quarter extentions, and spoiler trunk lid. The '65 Thunderbird sequential taillights and pop-open gas cap were set in the Shelby fiberglass upper valance panel. The front section of these limited editions were set off with the standard horse and corral removed, and, in their place, driving lights were used. Twist-type hood pins were used along with a special side stripe along the body to the quarter scoop, with a very neat High Country decal. The interior could be your choice of the standard or deluxe, with some having the stainless trim. Yes, these are very hard to find today, but they do surface. I wonder if club member and Ford dealer Noah Yoder has as much clout with Ford as that Denver dealer had back in '68?

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    Biff's Rap

    Early 1965 Mustang Facts

    by Biff Hitzeman from the pages of PonyTalk

    Technical Editor, retired

    Recently I was looking through my copy of Mustang Recognition guide book and came across some rather interesting items on early Mustangs that I guess I never knew or noticed. Following are some that are obvious but often overlooked goodies. See how many you were aware of. (This test in not for Chuck Edwards 'cause Wanda says he'll cheat.)

    1. Early production models, '64 1/2 -'65, have beveled hood edges and grill side panels.

    2. The lettering on early Mustangs' front fenders is made longer," instead of 4 3/8".

    3. Early '64 1/2-'65 Mustangs had a slotted anchor belt hold down for the spare tire rather than the pass-threw hold down the later Mustangs used.

    4. How about the spotlights on the '65. Yep, C5ZZ15313-A will get you one, too.

    5. All of us know that the early '65 had only a two speed fan instead of the late '65 3-speed fan. (I found this little goody out while rewiring my EARLY '65 Fastback.)

    6. Most of us know that the early '65s had spring clips that held the interior door handles on, but did you ever notice that the door lock knobs are color coded to match the interior, that is for a short time or use to anyway. I'll bet that drove them crazy on the production lines.

    7. The rear seat ash tray/arm rest is a very rare dealer offered option. It was mounted beneath the rear window crank.

    8. The '66 Mustang Fastback was the first to receive the unique 2+2 identity. The '65 Fastback had just the word Mustang on it instead of the Mustang 2+2.

    9. Did you ever see a early `65 or for that matter a late '65 with 13 inch tires? They were offered in two different sizes: 6.5x13 and 7.00x13.

    10. The early Mustang was selected as the official Indianapolis 500 Pace Car because of its tremendous first 18 months of production, March 9, 1964-August 17, 1965. But did you know that a '67 Indianapolis Pacesetter Special was offered as a limited edition?

    Maybe next month one of you other Mustang nuts can come up with another list of "I didn't know that" goodies. There are hundreds of them. (OK, Wanda, I know that Chuck forced you to take this test. How well did he really do? I'll bet he said he knew them all, right?) Biff

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    Biff's Rap

    Muscle Car Memories

    by Biff Hitzeman from the pages of PonyTalk

    Recently I was handed a list of the top rated 50 Muscle cars of the 60's through 70's. I agreed with the list somewhat, maybe not in their order, but it is a very interesting list from an era when the auto industry got an overdose of fumes and built true muscle cars.

    Here is the list from No. 1 down:

    66 Cobra 427, 66 Vette 427, 69 Roadrunner, 70 Hemi 'Cuda, 70 SS 454 Chevelle, 69 ZL-1 Camero, 68 Vette 427, 70 Roadrunner, 70 GS Buick Stage 1, 69 Charger 500, 69 Vette L88, 69 Super Bee, 69 Boss 429, 70 Challenger R/T, 70 Torino Cobra, 68 Biscayne 427, 64 Polara 500, 69 GTX, 69 Dart 440, 71 Roadrunner, 71 'Cuda, 71 Vette, 71 Super Bee, 68 Hurst Olds, 68 Firebird 400, 67 Vette, 71 Boss 351, 66 Sattilite, 69 Coronet R/T, 68 Cyclone GT, 69 Nova 396, 69 Shelby 500, 70 442 W30, 62 Vette, 69 'Cuda, 69 Mach I, 67 GTO, 70 TransAm, 69 Charger R/T, 69 Cougar Eliminator, 72 Vette LT-1, 70 Charger R/T, 68 GTX, 71 Mach I, 70 Cyclone, 67 442, 70 Challenger, 66 Shelby 350, and 64 Cobra.

    I had no more than finished this list, when my mind started spinning others; 64 Thunderbolt, 68 Mustang 427, Rambler/Scrambler, 67 Hurst, AMX 390, Superbirds, 64 GTO, 67 Shelby 350S, Boss 302, 69 Camero Z-28, 63 Vette Stingray, 64 Dodge Ramcharger, 63 1/2 Galaxie 500 427 Ford, Dodge Dart 6-Pak, and the list goes on and on.

    I'm sure you can recall as many as I can. Even as the era of muscle cars came to an end and places like Kar-Kraft closed, the auto builders started to build in gadgets and 4-cylinders with turbocharging to gain road speeds of 55. The days of the "Good Ole Boy" under the shade tree building up his barely street legal car are all but gone, and I for one miss them already. In the choked 80's, there are a few, however, that have survived, one being the 5.0GT Mustang.

    I ran across one good example in St. Mary's, Ohio, one day , returning to work. Sitting ahead of me at the light was a very healthy 5.0, cammed enough waiting for the light to change that it shook all the glass in my new truck. As the light changed, the 5.0 lit up the tires and was gone. Yep, I did, Chuck, but the 2.3 4- cylinder just died! Embarrassed, I restarted it and, as I drove down 66, my mind took me back just a few years earlier, when, being the proud owner of a true muscle car, that 5.0 would have been just dust in my rearview mirror.

    Maybe it's true that the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys!! But, tell you what, give me a warm summer Sunday afternoon, one of my old muscle cars and cruising around Fort Wayne, through Gardner's, out to Azars, or the park anytime....O- YES! Biff Hitzeman

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