Of all the high-performance Fords, past and present, perhaps none is more loved by fans of the brand than the 1969-70 Boss 302 Mustang. Engineered to compete in the Trans Am series, the Boss 302 won the championship in 1970. The street version was similar to the race-going machine, and it was embraced by those for whom a lot of performance makes up in full for a bit of discomfort and inconvenience.
Ford announced last Friday that it would release a new mass-market version of the Boss 302, based on the 2011 Mustang GT.
The new model comes just a few months after Ford said it would produce a race-only, limited-production Boss 302R Mustang. The new Boss 302 is by no means a twin to its track-only sibling, but it does share a number of components. It’s also considerably more civilized, emissions-legal and much less costly. And while it may be more refined than the “R” version, Ford doesn’t hesitate to bestow racecar credentials on its new pony car.
“The team at Ford wanted to offer their fellow Mustang enthusiasts something really special — a beautifully balanced factory-built racecar that they could drive on the street,” said Dave Pericak, chief engineer for the Mustang.
Among the parts that make the new Boss special is a more powerful version of the 412-horsepower 5-liter V-8 that powers the 2011 Mustang GT. With an intake system revised for high revs and more aggressive camshaft timing, the Boss version of the engine pounds out 440 horsepower. Backed by a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission, it delivers power to a stout 3.73:1 ratio rear axle.
The Boss suspension gets higher rate coil springs than the standard GT setup, along with stiffer bushings and a larger-diameter rear stabilizer bar. Adjustable shocks and struts give weekend warriors a means of firming things up a bit more on race day. Other track-worthy components include fat Pirelli P Zero summer tires and Brembo four-piston front brake calipers.
Boss styling modifications, while minimal, are obviously intended to enhance the car’s bad-boy imagery while invoking a bit of ’69 Boss nostalgia. Among the changes are 19-inch black wheels, a black or white roof panel and a front splitter that is reportedly more than cosmetic in that it reduces lift and underbody drag while forcing air through the cooling system.
According to Robert Parker, a Ford spokesman, the 2012 Boss 302 will be available next spring. Mr. Parker did not disclose the price but said it would be between that of the current Mustang GT ($30,495, including destination) and the GT 500 ($49,495).
Interestingly, the original 1969 302 Boss was developed a couple of years after Chevrolet introduced the Camaro, which easily outperformed the Mustangs of its day. Now the new Boss comes on the heels of the new retro Camaro outperforming the Mustang on the showroom floor. Through July, Camaro sales exceeded those of the Mustang by 13 percent, according to a recent report in Automotive News.