What are the chances?
First up that the Eliminator even existed.
In May of 1968 it looked like Dyno Don Nicholson, creator of the Eliminator Drag racers was going to jump ship and take a sponsorship deal that would put him behind the wheel of a Chevy!
And then that the BOSS 302 Eliminator was even created.
Then the simple fact that the only reason the Boss302 even existed was to make the engine legal for Trans Am competition, and Cougar had been absent from Trans Am since 1967.
Finally that they were able to sell them.
People had to pay a premium to get a smaller engine in their Eliminator! The 351 2v was standard, in 4v form it was $53.20. The 428CJ was and additional $310.90. How much did it cost to get the BOSS? $388.60 PLUS the required 4 speed for another $204.70!
And for one to travel through time, in essentially original condition in every way.
One of only 469 ever built, stayed in the hands of a dedicated original owner for the next 45 years, in Texas, always in the garage.
You can’t make this stuff up!
Dave Wyrwas tells us the story of his amazing '70 Boss 302 Eliminator Survivor.
In the summer of 1969, Ronnie Marstaller is working as a salesman at his father’s dealership, Marstaller Motors in Waco, TX. He is also assigned the task of ordering the new stock vehicles. He is given an allocation for one 1970 model year Cougar Eliminator equipped with a Boss 302. He carefully reviews the selections available for this car and selects Competition Blue paint with a standard black interior and an AM radio, the close ratio transmission combined with the 3.91 to 1 ratio traction lok axle completes the driveline. Being as this is Texas and air conditioning is not available he selects Complete Tinted Glass and also the Appearance Protection Group which consists of front bumper guards, door edge guards and front and rear floor mats. This results in a dealer cost of $3,510.44. The order is submitted to Ford and entered into the system as a stock order on the 16th of July 1969. In Florida that same day three astronauts would begin their own journey… to the moon. Four days later, Neil Armstrong would take that first memorable step on the moon.
Being as this is a stock order it is not actually built until the 13th of October, 1969 which is 10 days behind its scheduled build date. The Marti report shows a release date of the 11th of October, 1969. This raises some questions that I will need to ask of Kevin Marti. The Eminger invoice for the car is punched with Monday the 13th of October, but has a stamped date of Saturday, the 11th of October, 1969. The vehicle would depart Dearborn by rail car to a ramp in the Dallas area for convoy move to Waco, and would probably have arrived in late October of 1969. The car would be prepped and parked in the small lot in front of the showroom.
Image from about 1975
During the summer of 1970, Robert Armitage of Waco, noticed the car in the lot. He would stop by and check out the vehicle over the next couple of months. He was 25 years old, had already purchased a house and was working as a Draftsman. He thought about the Cougar and finally decided to purchase the vehicle on Monday, the 14th of September, 1970. The MSRP was $4,288.60, but he agreed to a price of $3,570.00 with no trade in. His salesman was Ronnie Marstaller who on the 17th of September would send him a thank you letter. He had a cash down payment of $2,500.85 with a finance balance of $1,069.15. His loan contract was for 36 months at an interest rate of 11.08% which resulted in a monthly payment of $38.94, which he paid off early in April of 1973.
Robert did most of the maintenance on the Cougar himself and generally with Ford parts and always kept it in the garage. In December of 1973, he purchased a D3FZ 3600-B covered steering wheel to replace the factory wheel. This is a leather wrapped wheel which is currently still on the vehicle and takes the factory horn pad. The original wheel was placed in the trunk. Sometime in the 1970’s he purchased a set of 5 spoke rims and Saxon Speed Track F-60x14 for the front and G60x14 for the rear. The original rims he stored in the crawl space above the car in the garage.
By 1975 he decided it was time for vanity plates and settled on “70 MERC”, for 1976 through its last registration in 1981, it would carry the vanity plate “70 ELIM”. On the 4th of June in 1976, when the car had 29,042 miles on it he changed the oil and filter. Over the course of the next 5 years, he would put only 1,164 miles on it, primarily going to car shows/cruise ins. In 1982 he did not renew the registration and the car then sat in its spot in the garage until his passing in March of 2015. In 1995 he purchased a new 1995 Camaro and it shared the garage with the Eliminator.
Shortly after Robert’s passing, I was contacted by Richard H., one of the widow’s neighbors. Richard had found me through the internet. He stated that he knew of an original owner’s Eliminator who had just passed away and the widow was interested in its value. I said that I would be attending the Mecum auction in Houston in a few weeks and would be available to look at it and give her an idea of its originality and value. Due to some required repairs to the house, during the first week of April, the vehicle was moved from its long term resting place to a storage unit for safe keeping.
On Sunday, April 12th, I made the trip from Houston to Waco, to evaluate the Eliminator. I found it to be in excellent condition for a survivor, with most of the difficult to find parts still in place and properly date coded for the build date of the car. The biggest concern that I expressed to Belinda, Robert’s widow, was that the condition of the engine was unknown as we did not have a clear reason as to why Robert parked it. I also met Scott Hubbard who had posted the vehicle for sale on Facebook and Warren Hall who owns a 1970 Eliminator and had assisted with the moving of the vehicle to the storage unit. At Belinda’s house afterwards I gave her an estimate of what I thought a fair market value in its current condition was and also made her an offer at the time.
I continued to keep in contact with Richard over the next several weeks. On the 20th of May, I received a call from Scott Hubbard, he stated that the field had been narrowed down to just one serious bidder and one other. He had been surprised when he told Belinda about the highest offer at the time, that I had also made a similar offer directly to Belinda. He then talked to the other interested party through a couple of back and forth phone calls, until I was the last man standing. The amount ended up with in the ± 5% range of what I had originally said the car was worth. I told Scott that with my current schedule that I would be able to pick the car up the week after All Ford Carlisle.
On June 4th, I drove to Carlisle for the first time in many years without a car to display. Of course while there I got asked by numerous folks “what car did you bring?” My reply was I decided to enjoy Carlisle without a car for a change, as since the car and title were not in possession yet, I did not want to reveal the true reason. My trip was not destined to end at Carlisle. I arrived in Waco on Tuesday, the 9th of June and had made arrangements to meet Belinda at her bank, to complete the financial transaction and exchange all of the paperwork. From there we headed over to the storage unit and loaded the car onto the trailer. I then spent the afternoon, going through the garage to make sure that all of the replaced and saved parts were retrieved.
On Wednesday, the 10th of June, I visited Marstaller Motors and met with Ronnie Marstaller who now runs the Dealership. He remembered the car and showed me where it had been parked and stated “I knew that car was going to be special”. Unfortunately, the dealership had been required by the Fire Marshall to destroy many of its old records recently due to the potential fire hazard, so he no longer had any of the dealers copy of the paperwork.
The next day, I proceeded to Frank and Sharyn Bower’s place in Oklahoma as they had offered to help me get it awake from its long hibernation. I arrived shortly after noon we got the car unloaded into the shop and began to review its mechanical condition. By late that afternoon, we had it running. Sharyn in particular was avidly looking over the originality of the vehicle. The next morning we reviewed the brakes and had those at least partially functioning, and shortly after lunch we moved the car out of the shop under its own power for the first time in decades.
On the 15th of June, after traveling 3,980 miles, the car was backed into a bay in my garage. Since then, I have been spending time carefully cleaning the car in preparation for its debut to the Cougar world at the East Coast Nationals on October 10th, and its overall debut at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Chicago the weekend of November 21st.
I would like to say that I will be the caretaker of this vehicle as long as Robert did, but that would require me to live to be 100, so I keep my fingers crossed.
I want to thank the members here for the selection as the October 2015 Ride of the Month.