Martin Birrane '69 Kar Kraft Muscle Parts Development Boss 302
Steve Francis, Wolfgang Kohrn - January 17th, 2005, last updated May 2016


Picture courtesy Gus Tarrab
Picture courtesy Gus Tarrab

Picture courtesy Trevor Legate
Picture courtesy Trevor Legate

Picture courtesy Trevor Legate
Picture courtesy Trevor Legate

Picture courtesy Trevor Legate
Picture courtesy Trevor Legate
Prints can be obtained from Trevor in 8x10" or bigger size. Contact me for details.

Picture courtesy www.saac-mcr
Picture courtesy www.saac-mcr

The Cona coffee Boss (rear car) as raced 1971 in Thruxton/UK
Picture courtesy Eric Walker

"Most of the photos I had of the car I think got passed on when I sold it but this was always my favourite. Taken at Thruxton at the end of 1971 I believe it also shows another car I owned - the Dennis Leech Boss Mustang built as a 302 in 1970, raced by Jacky Ickx at Spa, run as a 351 in 1971 and a full Boss 429 in '72/73 this car has been back in the USA since the mid 90's under restoration.
But back to the Birrane car: It was always described as a Kar-Kraft development car I never got to talk to Martin about it but spoke to some of his friends. The Cona coffee sponsor caused problems when racing abroad as in some languages Cona is a delicate part. I saw the car run several times in the UK and also think it was in a Spa 24hrs programme, but I don't think it ran there. It was also featured in a BBC TV broadcast from Crystal Palace Racetrack, where it started from the back and finished fourth. After Martin sold it it almost vanished but I do remember Dave McCloy running in a couple of small club races. About 1983 the car turned up advertised in Exchange and Mart for 5000. Got straight on the phone and went down to see owner Alvin Powell and the car down in the Welsh valleys. He had owned the car a few years and used it in sprints and hillclimbs, but it was never sorted out properly.
Had a great time driving around local industrial estate - the whole village came out to watch including the police! The car wasn't running right, but it was quick enough! When it came time to pay, Alvin had changed his mind and refused to sell. After that I phoned him every couple of months and even saw it run in the Weston Speed Trials were it still wasn't running right. Finally in early '86 Alvin gave in and I think I got the car about May - unfortunately by August my divorce had started and about a year on from that I had to sell the car.
Eric Walker

Picture courtesy Ed Ludtke
Picture courtesy Ed Ludtke/Road Racing Registry

Picture courtesy Ed Ludtke
Picture courtesy Ed Ludtke/Road Racing Registry

Picture courtesy Ed Ludtke
Picture courtesy Ed Ludtke/Road Racing Registry

Martin Birrane was a famous racer back then in England, who brought this BOSS 302 in early 1971 to the UK and raced it.

This car was used for 1970 Boss 302 development, used to create Ford "Muscle Parts" for Trans-Am racing. This car was built by Kar Kraft to develop the Books on Chassis and Engine modifications for SCCA racing. All the photos in the Chassis mod book are of this car. When finished, it was raced by Kar Kraft engineer (66-70) Don Eichstaedt in SCCA A/S National events. In 11/70 Ford closed Kar Kraft and this car was sold to Martin Birrane (of LOLA cars) in England. It was raced very successfully in Europe '71-76 in Group 2. Eric Walker sold the car to David Tom, who returned it to the U.S. David sold it and it was then vintage raced for 5 seasons and retired. Previous owner Donnie Gould has done a complete cosmetic and mechanical restoration to the car and it was at the 100 years of Ford Racing event in 2001" - Ed Ludtke

(See more history  info and exclusive Kar Kraft pics of this car under construction thanks to Mike Friedlander  - 
click here)

"Martin started racing the car in Group 2 (England) at the start of the 1971 season with major sponsorship by Cona Coffee (Cona Coffee Machine Company). It raced as car # 1, #3, orange and black with the Cona Coffee logo's. Wheels were Minilites....of course. Martin raced the Mustang into the 72 season, but that's where my information stops on it's early UK/Europe race history. A few years ago Martin purchased Lola Cars International LTD and is Executive Chairman. He also owns Mondello Park race circuit." Steve Francis

Picture courtesy Trevor Legate
Picture courtesy Trevor Legate

"This was a National SCCA club racer. It had NONE of the trick Kar Kraft racing parts (such as brakes, suspension, floater, watts link, etc), when it was built. It might had some of those items added later in Europe, but not when it was raced by Don here in the states. Just to clear up any ideas that this was a "Factory" car, it was definitely NOT! A very unique piece of Ford history, in it's own right and the star of it's own book too!
Steve and I can both tell you there is a world of difference between a "Factory" race car and a production car that has been converted as this was."
- Ed Ludtke

"Any T/A race history related to this car would likely be vintage Trans-Am events and not pre-72. In addition to the Boss 302, he also road raced a 64 Fairlane and a 68 Mustang Notchback. Both with 427 engines as Martin had a connection with Holman Moody back in the 1960s/70s. I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Martin during our 1993 UK/Europe FIA Historics race season in the GT350. At that time he owned a pub in London called "Rev's" and as the name suggests, has a racing theme throughout. Sorry, no T/A, pretty much all F1 stuff. Still a great place to grab a hot steak & kidney pie and wash it down with a quality pint of lager!" - Steve Francis

Above pictures copyright Richard Evans

"I used to be taken to the tracks with Martin in the late 1960's/early 70's to see him racing. Martin is an old friend of mine" Richard Evans

Above picture (1976) copyright Nichola McCloy

"In approximately 1976 my father, Dave McCloy, owned the car. It was bought from a firm in Wattford in London, the owner of which was known as 'Monkey Brown'. 
He raced a number of times an then sold it on to the motor trade. He raced numerous cars in various categories such as Super Saloon, F5000 and Marque sports. "
Nichola McCloy

"I saw this car in 1982. I found it when I took my 289 to a local machine shop for a rebore and sitting in the workshop was a Yellow '70 Boss 302 racecar looking rather forlorn. It had obviously had a bit of a life and had apparently been bought for a few hundred pounds after the previous owner had 'converted' it from dry sump to wet sump by blocking the lines to the oil tank (trunk mounted). I am not sure exactly what was done in this 'conversion' but the result was that a couple of conrods snapped and the car was sold as a non-runner. As luck would have it, it seems the rods did not damage the block but mashed the sump a bit. It was rebuilt by it's new owner but had problems and was later taken to Tom Laffey who rebuilt it, after which I understand it gave no trouble. Tom told me that the engine had not been done very well when he got it and there was an Inline Autolite 4V carb amongst the box of bits supplied but it was snapped it two halves. It seems the owner had thought it was two Webers stuck together and so he 'broke' it over his knee! Also in the shop were spare heads (2 sets) Magnesium race wheels and slicks (*very* light), the Toploader and bell and various other spares and bits. I didn't know too much at that time but I had a look around the car and it all looked pukka with dry sump tank in the trunk, four-wheel discs with cooling ducts run to them and general lightweight build with no interior, roll cage etc. I wish I had taken more notice now but I was young then and drag racing was my interest at the time (groan). After the car was put back together, I am told it was used for Sprints locally and possibly hillclimbs, where it was claimed to be successful but I cannot confirm this. The owner also had a red 65 or 66 Shelby at the time which was languishing in his yard but I don't know what happened to that.
The Boss was put up for sale eventually and Eric Walker came down from Stourbridge to view the car and drive it but after seeing it and deciding he wanted to buy it, the owner withdrew and refused to sell. Sometime later however the sale went through because I found later that Eric was the new owner."
Martin Edridge

(See left column for continuation during ownership Eric Walker before continueing)

"I found and purchased the Ford Mustang chassis from one Eric A. Walker of Stourbridge, West Midlands, England. That car was delivered in a container (also containing one of the Penske/Donohue 68' Camaros) to me in Cincinnati/Ohio in Jan. of 1988. The Mustang was painted red when it arrived, but was orange under the red paint. The car was damaged in shipment and the damage revealed one lightweight fender and one regular thickness fender. I received a settlement from the insurance company which I used to do a cosmetic restoration of the body. I also installed a nearly stock Boss 302 engine to get the car running. This car was sold to Dale Nichols of Orlando, Fl. by me in late 1988."
David Tom

Additional research:
This car was brought over to England with about 520HP, but not very reliable in the races until it was slightly detuned acc. to magazine articles.
Trevor Legate confirmed that the car rarely made it into races after the practice runs.

The car was on sale by Donny Gould (Jan. 2003) and was featured at the Boca Raton, FL auction. Asking price was 135.000 dollar. Highest bid 95.000.

As of July 2003 the car is now owned by Mike Friedlander. Mike told us then: "I am going to run it in VSCDA, probably SVRA."

And so he did, see actual pics from a recent Detroit Autorama show in March 2004 on the left. It took first place in the Road Racing category.

In 2008 it ran at the Waterford Hills Vintage races. See the video here on youtube

In early summer 2011 Mike Friedlander sold the car to a collector, most probably for a museum to display. Stay tuned for further information.
This poster was created by Edd Mangino for the 2011 Waterford Hills Vintage Races. The photo of Mike Friedlanders car was taken at the same race in 2008 by Edd, where Mike took 1st. place in class.

Design and all color photos by Edd Mangino. 
B&W photo
courtesy Tony DeLorenzo.


In February 2013 David McMillan spotted the car in Tyler/Texas at a smaller indoor show and sent them to us to upload them for the Boss302 Forum.

Apparently the last owner - a collector - displayed his car in this show. It was planned to be shown more regular in a museum acc. to previous owner Mike Friedlander. 

At least it is good to see it again anyway.
Thanks to David McMillan for the pictures.

The car is on sale on ebay as of November 2013, still is as of October 2014.

Click here for the description


Update May 2016

The car was sold at this Mecum auction for 125K Dollar.

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