WHO’S THE BOSS?

1970 VS 2013 BOSS 302 MUS­TANG

New Zealand Classic Car - - Front Page - Words: Ash­ley Webb Pho­tos: Adam Croy

Those of us old enough will re­mem­ber that when Ford un­veiled the Mus­tang back in 1964, it was un­doubt­edly the great­est thing since canned peaches. For a start, this ground­break­ing model set a new prece­dent within the in­dus­try by cre­at­ing an en­tirely new class of sports car, and it met with im­me­di­ate suc­cess and un­par­al­leled sales across the US.

In truth, the Mus­tang’s recipe was quite sim­ple: take an ex­ist­ing rear-wheel-drive chas­sis, such as the Fal­con, de­sign and build a sporty 2+2 coupé body, and drop an in-line six or V8 en­gine un­der the bon­net — the rest, as they say, is his­tory.

Sur­pris­ingly, for an Amer­i­can car, the Mus­tang drove rea­son­ably well and looked even bet­ter. How­ever, it wasn’t long be­fore dark clouds ap­peared to cast a shadow over Ford as it basked in the sun­light. While it may have in­vented the con­cept of the ‘pony car’, ri­vals quickly ap­peared in the arena to chal­lenge the Mus­tang.

The folks over at GM, keen for a slice of the ac­tion, struck back with the Chevro­let Camaro, then went one bet­ter by in­tro­duc­ing the track-ca­pa­ble high­per­for­mance Z28. Not only did the Camaro go headto-head with the Ford Mus­tang on the street and in show­rooms, it also com­peted suc­cess­fully in the Tran­sAm se­ries, win­ning the cham­pi­onship in 1968. Ford’s pres­i­dent, Bunkie Knud­sen, watched Camaro Z28 sales climb from 602 in 1967 to 7199 in 1968, the ad­di­tional ex­po­sure of the model in Trans-am rac­ing rub­bing off on the rest of the Camaro line-up.

As the ’60s wound up, there was only one thing left for Ford to do — hit back strong and hard. The even­tual up­per cut came in the form of the 1969–1970 Boss 302.

A Boss is born

The first Boss 302 rolled off Ford’s Dear­born as­sem­bly line on April 17, 1969, just 14 months af­ter Bunkie Knud­sen had taken over the reins at Ford Mo­tor Com­pany, and only seven months af­ter the ini­tial stir­rings of a spe­cial high-per­for­mance Mus­tang pro­gramme.

Fi­nally, Ford could sell what it raced and com­pete against the fast-sell­ing Z28 on the street and on the race­track. Some 1628 Boss 302s had been built by the end of 1969, eas­ily enough to sat­isfy Sports Car Club of Amer­ica (SCCA) ho­molo­ga­tion reg­u­la­tions.

The name ‘Boss 302’ raised a few eye­brows, with many com­men­ta­tors won­der­ing where the tag had orig­i­nated. The man cred­ited with the car’s cre­ation, Larry Shin­oda — for­merly of GM — was once asked about the pro­ject he was work­ing on. As a quick re­sponse, and to keep what he was do­ing un­der wraps, he sim­ply said, “I’m just work­ing on the boss’s car!” Shin­oda’s off-the-cuff re­ply ob­vi­ously struck a chord with Ford’s hi­er­ar­chy, and so the Boss 302 was born, hav­ing been cre­ated for a very spe­cific mis­sion — mas­tery on the race­track.

Boss ori­gins

To com­ply with the SCCA rac­ing league rules, par­tic­i­pat­ing auto man­u­fac­tur­ers had to sell a pro­duc­tion ver­sion of any car en­tered in the Trans-am se­ries. Af­ter los­ing the 1968 sea­son to the more pow­er­ful Chevro­let Camaro, Ford was de­ter­mined not to be out­done again, and it was this that spurred its en­gi­neers into ac­tion and led to the de­sign­ing and build­ing of an all-out-per­for­mance pro­duc­tion Mus­tang.

The man cred­ited with the Boss 302’s cre­ation — Larry Shin­oda

For starters, if it was se­ri­ous about re­gain­ing the Trans-am se­ries ti­tle, Ford needed a truly com­pet­i­tive en­gine. Its pre­vi­ous at­tempt at build­ing a high­per­for­mance mo­tor, the Tun­nel Port Wind­sor V8, had re­sulted in that dis­as­trous 1968 rac­ing year. As it hap­pened, Ford en­gi­neers had also ex­per­i­mented to suc­cess­fully com­bine a Wind­sor block with Cleve­land heads, end­ing up with the 4.9-litre (302ci) en­gine that even­tu­ally pow­ered the Mus­tang, and Par­nelli Jones, to vic­tory in the 1970 Trans-am se­ries.

While the Wind­sor/cleve­land com­bi­na­tion proved a strong and pow­er­ful one that would turn the Mus­tang into a win­ning race car, there was a lot more to it than just sim­ply throw­ing a pair of fresh cylin­der heads onto an en­gine block and head­ing off to the race­track.

The Ford en­gi­neers’ strate­gic for­ward think­ing, which rec­og­nized that the Cleve­land heads had rac­ing po­ten­tial, meant the Boss 302 en­gine was the first to in­cor­po­rate the Cleve­land head de­sign. They were con­vinced that af­ter in­no­va­tive en­gi­neer­ing the larger heads could be fit­ted to the Wind­sor block. The Cleve­land heads were in a stag­gered, cant­ed­valve ar­range­ment, while an im­proved in­take-port de­sign gave the air/fuel mix­ture a straighter shot at the cylin­ders. An­gling the valves also pro­vided much­needed space for the mas­sive 56.6mm (2.23-inch)

in­take and 43.6mm (1.72-inch) ex­haust valves.

In 1970, the in­take valves were slightly re­duced in size to a di­am­e­ter of 55.6mm to al­low in­creased low-end torque (in the­ory) for slightly quicker ini­tial ac­cel­er­a­tion, while the ex­haust valves re­mained the same. Th­ese heads also fea­tured steel spring seats, ad­justable rocker arms, screw-in rocker studs, and pushrod guide plates.

Other tech­ni­cal de­tails in­cluded a unique me­chan­i­cal cam with ‘high-lift’ de­sign and a forged-steel crank­shaft, bal­anced both stat­i­cally and dy­nam­i­cally. All this me­chan­i­cal ro­tat­ing mass was fed co­pi­ous amounts of fuel through a mas­sive 780cfm Holley car­bu­ret­tor breath­ing through a pur­pose-built alu­minium in­take man­i­fold.

To ef­fi­ciently vent ex­haust gases, new cast-iron ex­haust man­i­folds were de­signed specif­i­cally for the Boss 302 — the gases be­ing fed into a trans­verse muf­fler sys­tem (for 1969 only), which helped give the Boss its unique and revered ex­haust note. The end re­sult was a ded­i­cated sports car with all the cre­den­tials to go

Trans-am rac­ing. Few crea­ture com­forts or op­tions were in­cluded as stan­dard on the ini­tial 1969 Boss 302 — this car had one pur­pose: to make it around a race­track faster than any other car.

Race bred

Us-based in­sur­ance com­pa­nies back in the late 1960s were quick to pounce on any ve­hi­cle with even the most mod­est of per­for­mance as­pi­ra­tions, so it wasn’t un­com­mon for man­u­fac­tur­ers to fudge their listed en­gine-per­for­mance data. Of­fi­cially, the pro­duc­tion Boss 302 pro­duced 216kw (290bhp) at 5800rpm; how­ever, its track-go­ing coun­ter­parts were ac­cu­rately found to pro­duce as much as 350kw (470bhp).

As far as trans­mis­sions were con­cerned, with that much power on tap, the only op­tion was a four-on-the-floor To­ploader gear­box with a Hurst T-han­dle shifter to swap the cogs around. The gear­box could be or­dered with ei­ther close- or wide-ra­tio con­fig­u­ra­tion, both of which de­liv­ered power to one of four rear ends: A-code (open) 3.50:1, S-code (Trac­tion-lok — Ford’s of­fi­cial name for its lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial) 3.50:1, V-code (Trac­tion-lok) 3.91:1, and W-code (Detroit no-spin) 4.30:1.

How­ever, the Boss 302 wasn’t just about drop­ping a race-bred high-per­for­mance V8 be­tween the shock

Bob’s car is one of the last Boss 302s and comes com­plete with a Ford cer­tifi­cate of au­then­tic­ity and unique build num­ber

tow­ers of a road-go­ing ’69 fast­back Mus­tang. The 302 en­gine de­manded se­ri­ous re­spect, so mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the sus­pen­sion set-up were in­tro­duced — in­clud­ing heavy-duty front coils, tube shocks, and rear leaf springs — to make the 302 com­pe­ti­tion-ready.

To con­trol wheel hop, which can have a less-than-de­sir­able ef­fect on a car’s abil­ity to get off the line quickly, stag­gered heavy-duty Gabriel rear shocks were used.

The Mus­tang’s chas­sis was slightly up­graded for 1970. The com­pe­ti­tion sus­pen­sion was stan­dard equip­ment with the ad­di­tion of a 21.5mm (0.85-inch) rear anti-roll bar tucked be­tween the fuel tank and rear axle hous­ing. A quick-ra­tio steer­ing box with a 16:1 gear ra­tio was also part of the stan­dard pack­age, and, if you wanted power-as­sisted steer­ing, it was a case of tick­ing the rel­e­vant box on the op­tions list.

With the Boss 302 en­gine and other nec­es­sary up­grades, the Mus­tang 302 was fi­nally ready to com­pete.

Sadly, in Au­gust 1970, Ford qui­etly dis­con­tin­ued the Boss 302, and, in Novem­ber that same year, an­nounced that it was with­draw­ing from mo­tor rac­ing al­to­gether. Matthew Mclaugh­lin, then vice pres­i­dent of Ford’s sales group, stated that for­eign-im­port car sales had forced Ford to de­sign, build, and mar­ket the

Mav­er­ick and Pinto compact cars — steal­ing both time and money from the com­pany’s rac­ing bud­get.

Yet, as the street ver­sion slipped away, the Boss 302 Trans-am race cars re­mained heav­ily em­broiled in bat­tle on the cir­cuit. With Ge­orge Follmer fin­ish­ing se­cond place at Don­ny­brooke on July 5, 1970, Mus­tang had held a 22-point mar­gin over the Camaro mid­way through the se­ries. The street cars may have gone, but, on the track, the Boss 302 track cars were just hit­ting their stride.

The leg­end re­turns

The 1970s saw Amer­i­can mus­cle in a sorry state of affairs. A lost decade of per­for­mance ma­chines meant that Ford had lit­tle else to of­fer other than its Co­bra II and King Co­bra Mus­tangs. With a miserly two-bar­rel car­bu­ret­tor ver­sion of the 5.0-litre (302ci) as the top per­for­mance op­tion, there wasn’t a lot of mus­cle-flex­ing go­ing on be­hind those fancy de­cals.

Per­for­mance en­thu­si­asts prac­ti­cally turned their backs on new cars dur­ing the ’70s, and, in­stead, they fo­cused their at­ten­tion on pre­vi­ously owned Boss 302s and other ’60s mus­cle cars. Th­ese gas guz­zlers were ab­so­lute bar­gains at a time when fuel prices had been driven out of con­trol in the af­ter­math of the 1973 OPEC (Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Pe­tro­leum Ex­port­ing Coun­tries) oil em­bargo.

Per­haps think­ing of past glo­ries, Ford was tempted to res­ur­rect the Boss name on a few oc­ca­sions dur­ing the life cy­cle of the retro-styled 1994–2004 Mus­tang. As well, the Mach 1 pro­gramme was re­con­sid­ered for the Boss name in 2001 and again in 2003, but, af­ter much dis­cus­sion, the idea was even­tu­ally shelved.

That all changed in 2011 — now the Mus­tang was un­der­pinned by a vi­able plat­form, and, with a healthy 307kw (412bhp) en­gine on the way, it seemed an ap­pro­pri­ate time for the Boss to reap­pear. Af­ter 40 years of

re­ject­ing Boss pro­pos­als, Ford could see light at the end of the tun­nel with the best Mus­tang GT ever on the hori­zon, as well as a new 5.0-litre V8.

The next step for Ford’s de­vel­op­ment team was to re­search the orig­i­nal 1969–1970 Boss 302 and its rich Trans-am her­itage. The team was unan­i­mous in its de­ci­sion that the new Boss had to be a track-wor­thy street car.

Su­per­charg­ing seemed a log­i­cal op­tion to pack more of a punch be­hind the newly de­signed 302 en­gine, but, as the orig­i­nal Boss was pow­ered by a high-revving, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated power plant, tra­di­tion won over, and the idea of forced in­duc­tion was quickly put aside. The orig­i­nal Boss was, in­deed, a leg­end, and it was agreed that the highly re­garded Boss name would not ap­pear on the side of any Mus­tang un­less a le­git­i­mate suc­ces­sor could be cre­ated.

Fi­nally, Ford’s de­vel­op­ment team felt con­fi­dent it had all its ducks in a row, and the de­ci­sion was made to pur­sue the path to­wards a mod­ern-day Boss 302. Be­fore all that hard work could be­come re­al­ity, though, there was one ma­jor hur­dle — sign-off from se­nior man­age­ment.

Ford also came to the con­clu­sion that if it was go­ing to get the pro­ject off the ground, it needed a high-level cham­pion — some­one who ap­pre­ci­ated per­for­mance and un­der­stood the sig­nif­i­cance of res­ur­rect­ing the leg­endary Boss moniker. That per­son was Jim Far­ley — group vice pres­i­dent of global mar­ket­ing, sales, and ser­vice.

Far­ley was fairly new to the po­si­tion, and, as luck would have it, his grand­fa­ther was Henry Ford’s 389th

Ford stayed true to its word by keep­ing the free-flow­ing, high-revving 5.0-litre V8 en­gine au na­turel in the Boss

em­ployee. In ad­di­tion, his grand­fa­ther had been a child­hood friend of Bunkie Knud­sen, the man who orig­i­nally ap­proved the Boss 302 pro­gramme dur­ing his time as Ford’s pres­i­dent.

Far­ley was re­garded through­out the Ford net­work as some­one who ap­pre­ci­ated both Mus­tangs and per­for­mance — so he was the per­fect per­son for the job if the Boss 302 was to ever see the light of day.

There were cer­tainly no hopes or prom­ises as the Boss 302 pro­ject com­menced in 2008, dur­ing the dark­est days of a global re­ces­sion. Amid a world of fi­nan­cial in­se­cu­rity and cri­sis, the Amer­i­can auto in­dus­try was al­most crip­pled to the point at which the US govern­ment had to bail GM and Chrysler out of cer­tain fi­nan­cial ruin. Ford weath­ered the credit-crunch storm and stayed com­mit­ted to the Boss 302 plan.

It surged ahead, de­spite grow­ing con­cerns about of­fer­ing a road-go­ing track car at a time when auto man­u­fac­tur­ers world­wide were well and truly clam­ber­ing onto the ‘green’ band­wagon. In a world very much fo­cused on the neg­a­tive ef­fects of global warm­ing and other en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, it seemed that the very idea of a re­vived Boss 302 ran counter to the pre­vail­ing trend for clean en­ergy and hy­brid cars. How­ever, the Mus­tang team threw cau­tion to the wind and re­mained stead­fast, ad­her­ing to the orig­i­nal brief of pro­duc­ing a car that would ap­peal to hard-core en­thu­si­asts.

A new Boss hits the street

The leg­end re­turned to the roads once again in the form of the track-ori­ented 2012 Boss 302, which was un­veiled at the Rolex Monterey Mo­tor­sports Re­union at La­guna Seca. This was truly a track car for the street, and, ac­cord­ing to Ford, it was the quick­est, best-han­dling pro­duc­tion Mus­tang ever of­fered by the com­pany.

Ford stayed true to its word by keep­ing the freeflow­ing, high-revving 5.0-litre V8 en­gine au na­turel in the Boss. This V8 screamer fea­tured a re­vised plenum / ve­loc­ity-stack com­bi­na­tion, camshafts with a more ag­gres­sive grind, and cylin­der heads that had been treated to Cnc-ma­chined ports and cham­bers for bet­ter air flow across the en­tire rev range.

To achieve max­i­mum en­gine rev­o­lu­tions, all the in­ter­nals were made light­weight, while a spe­cially crafted race-spec crank­shaft, along with more ro­bust main and rod bear­ings, kept ev­ery­thing to­gether at high en­gine speeds.

To keep those light 19-inch rac­ing al­loys wrapped in Pirelli P Zero rubber firmly planted on the black­top at track speeds, the car got fully ad­justable shocks, as in the orig­i­nal Boss 302, plus higher-rated coil springs, stiffer sus­pen­sion bush­ings, and a larger rear sta­bi­lizer bar. By twist­ing ad­just­ment screws on the top of each shock, a driver can se­lect from five pro­gres­sively firmer set­tings. The re­tuned speed-sen­si­tive elec­tric steer­ing sys­tem fea­tured three dif­fer­ent op­tions — com­fort, nor­mal, and sport — and there were also three set­tings for the trac­tion and sta­bil­ity sys­tem: on, off, and in­ter­me­di­ate sport.

The 2012 Boss had two ig­ni­tion keys, one with a sil­ver Boss logo and the other with a red Boss logo. For those who wanted to go out and play, the red key — dubbed the ‘Trackey’ — ac­ti­vated Trac­mode pow­er­train

con­trol soft­ware within the car, pro­vid­ing full race cal­i­bra­tion and two-stage launch con­trol with­out com­pro­mis­ing the fac­tory war­ranty. There was also a La­guna Seca ver­sion of this new Boss, which added fur­ther sus­pen­sion and in­te­rior en­hance­ments on top of the al­ready ca­pa­ble Boss mod­i­fi­ca­tions.

For 2013, the Boss 302 re­ceived noth­ing more than a cos­metic makeover, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tion of new re­flec­tive graph­ics (sim­i­lar to those used on the orig­i­nal 1970 Boss), 1970 Par­nelli Jones–style School Bus Yel­low paint (as seen on our fea­tured car), and Ster­ling Gray ac­cents on the track-fo­cused Boss La­guna Seca. HID headlights and Led-sur­round tail-lights were also fit­ted.

It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the 2013 Boss 302 was de­signed to go fast, so Ford opted not to of­fer things like weight-adding au­dio sys­tems or the heated leather seats of­ten found on other high-end per­for­mance ve­hi­cles. The only high-tech gad­get on­board this racer was Ford Sync — a voice-ac­ti­vated in-car con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tem that gives driv­ers core hands­free fea­tures, ser­vices such as voice-ac­ti­vated call­ing via a Blue­tooth-con­nected mo­bile phone; con­trol of a Usb-con­nected dig­i­tal mu­sic player; 911 As­sist, the au­to­mated emer­gency call­ing ser­vice that is free for the life of the ve­hi­cle; and Ve­hi­cle Health Re­port, the on-de­mand di­ag­nos­tic and main­te­nance in­for­ma­tion ser­vice. In ad­di­tion, an LCD touch­screen en­ables the driver to mon­i­tor per­for­mance mea­sures such as g-force, ac­cel­er­a­tion times in quar­ter-mile and 0– 60 in­cre­ments, and brak­ing times com­plete with au­to­matic and count­down starts.

The 2013 Ford Mus­tang Boss 302 also had the high­est-tech sus­pen­sion sys­tem of any non-svt Mus­tang to roll off the fac­tory as­sem­bly line, with the most pow­er­ful nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V8 that Ford has ever packed un­der a bon­net. Changes were few for the 2013 Boss 302, but why mess with the best Mus­tang ever built?

Now for the bad news — 2013 was the fi­nal year for the in­cred­i­ble Boss 302 pack­age. When Ford in­tro­duced the mod­ern Boss for the 2012 model year, the com­pany stated that it would only run for two years — so sadly, the Boss name has gone once again.

Hard core

The Ford Mus­tang is prob­a­bly the most suc­cess­ful and re­spected Amer­i­can sports car of all time. The leg­endary 1969–’70 Boss 302s have stood the test of time as an ex­em­plary ex­am­ple of the best en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign Amer­i­can had to of­fer at the time; there are few cars with a short two-year pro­duc­tion span that have left such a mark on the per­for­mance-car land­scape.

As for the 2012–’13 rein­car­na­tion of the Boss — it’s hard to imag­ine Ford will ever pro­duce an­other ded­i­cated high-per­for­mance road/track ma­chine, or one wear­ing the Boss 302 la­bel for that mat­ter, that’s aimed fairly and squarely at the hard-core en­thu­si­ast mar­ket. Mind you, I hope I’m wrong!

Par­nelli Jones & Ge­orge Folmer in their Bud Moore En­gi­neer­ing ‘69 Boss 302’s

Op­tional Hurst T-han­dle shifter to swap the cogs around

The first Boss 302 styling pro­to­type ap­pears in this pho­to­graph with Shin­oda and a Cougar Elim­i­na­tor This styling pro­to­type later be­came Shin­oda’s per­sonal ve­hi­cle A 1968 pro­to­type was a Mach 1 dressed up with Boss Graph­ics. No­tice the early rear spoiler and sports stars. Quar­ter panel scoops were cov­ered

Right: Par­nelli Jones at River­side In­ter­na­tional Race­way, Oc­to­ber 4, 1970

Left: Par­nelli Jones in­spired liv­ery for the 2013 Boss 302 Mus­tang

Top: Boss gen­er­a­tions at Day­tona Left: Mus­tang in SCCA (Sports Car Club of Amer­ica) se­ries liv­ery

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