The Kirt Fryer 1971 Mustang collection. Photos by David Newhardt, courtesy Mecum Auctions.
Ask Mustang enthusiasts to name the most desirable examples over the years, and it’s a safe bet that the larger and heavier 1971 models won’t make everyone’s top-10 list. Collector Kirt Fryer sees things a bit differently, favoring the styling and high-performance engine options of the 1971 models, since that’s what was popular during his high school years. A career in oil and gas exploration has allowed Fryer to amass an impressive collection of roughly 15 1971 Mustangs, but on May 17-21 he’ll be offering up six examples from his stable at Mecum’s Indianapolis sale.
1971 Mustang Boss 351, in Grabber Lime.
Fans of the 1971-’73 Mustang’s styling owe thanks to Bunkie Knudsen, who took over as president of Ford in February 1968. As Donald Farr relates in Mustang: Fifty Years, when shown a prototype of the 1971 Mustang by Ford designers, Knudsen reportedly approved the car on the spot, turning down an offer to roll the car out of the studio for a better look. As for the 1971 Mustang’s dimensional growth, blame that on two things: A plan for engines even larger than the 429 Cobra Jet V-8, and a desire among Ford planners to take the Mustang upscale, with a larger and quieter interior and a plusher ride.
1971 Mustang Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet V-8.
More stringent emission requirements, tightening insurance regulations and a global oil crisis would soon end plans to develop a 500-cu.in. V-8, but in 1971, the Mustang was still available with a big block V-8. Gone was the 428 V-8, replaced by the 429 Cobra Jet, rated at 370 horsepower in standard-issue form, or 375 horsepower in Super Cobra Jet form.
1971 Mustang Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet interior.
To get the 429 Super Cobra Jet, buyers also had to order the Drag Pack option, which came with either the 4.11:1 Detroit Locker or 3.91:1 Traction-Lok differential; a solid lifter cam; a 780 cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor on unique cast iron manifold; cap screw connecting rods; four-bolt main bearings; and an external oil cooler.
1971 Mustang Boss 351 V-8.
For those wanting to go fast in other than a straight line, Ford carried over the Boss Mustang, though the 302 V-8 had been replaced by the 351 V-8 (and the Boss 429 was no longer available). Ford had withdrawn from Trans-Am racing at the end of the 1970 season, ending the need to homologate the expensive-to-produce 302. The replacement 351 V-8 made 40 horsepower and 80 pound-feet more torque more than the 302, and in a Mustang that was 600 pounds heavier than the model it replaced, more was definitely better.
The cabin of the Grabber Lime 1971 Boss 351. Yes, that is a lot of green.
The 1971 Mustangs that Kirt will be selling off in Indianapolis include a trio of Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet fastbacks, a pair of Boss 351 fastbacks, and a Pastel Blue hardtop that says “grocery getter” with its white vinyl roof and dog dish hubcaps, but actually packs a 429 Cobra Jet V-8 beneath the hood.
Bright Red 1971 Mustang Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet.
Of all the collection’s Mustangs, the Bright Red Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet is, perhaps, the most interesting and will likely draw the highest bids. Said to be unrestored with a claimed 37,000 miles on the odometer (likely gained in quarter-mile increments), the car retains not only its original driveline, but the engine’s original smog system and dual-point distributor as well.
Grabber Blue 1971 Mustang Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet.
The Grabber Blue Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet has ties to Hemmings Muscle Machines, having starred in our July 2015 issue. At the time of the article, the owner of record was Bob Leenstra, who’d purchased the car from Kirt Fryer. Offered as part of the Kirt Fryer Collection, perhaps its penultimate owner had a change of heart and repurchased the car from Leenstra after our piece went to press. Not as original as the red Mach 1, this nonetheless immaculate example was restored circa 2006.
Grabber Green Metallic 1971 Mustang Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet.
The only C6 automatic transmission-equipped Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet to be offered from the collection is a Grabber Green Metallic example that was originally delivered to Ford of Canada as a “Special Purpose Vehicle” for Canadian dealer introductions. Per research from Kevin Marti, the car is said to be one of the first 429 Super Cobra Jet examples built, and is believed to be the first production example equipped with the 4.11:1 Detroit Locker differential.
1971 Mustang Boss 351, in Grabber Blue.
The Grabber Blue Boss 351 shows a claimed 18,000 miles, and the car has been fully restored with all of its original sheet metal. Those with a passion for green may wish to consider the collection’s second Boss 351, finished in Grabber Lime with a Medium Green cloth and vinyl interior. Said to carry its original driveline and sheet metal, this example has received a partial repaint, excluding it from true “original” status.
1971 Mustang hardtop, with the Cobra Jet V-8.
The car we’d most like to have in the garage, however, is the odd duckling of the collection, the base model, vinyl roof hardtop with a 429-cu.in. secret under its hood. Though not the most attractive Mustang of the bunch, the car is said to be one of nine base model Mustangs ordered with the 429 Cobra Jet V-8 bolted to the C6 automatic transmission. As offered, it’s reported to have just 63,165 miles on the odometer, something we’d set to right as soon as the car hit our garage (and as long as gas prices remain at or below current levels, that is).
429 Cobra Jet V-8.
For further details on the Indianapolis sale, visit Mecum.com.