Race Car HandlingIt’s got rumble, and it’s fast. So how does it handle? Well, Ford says the already strong Mustang GT suspension system has been further refined. For starters, the Boss 302 is lowered by 11 millimeters at the front and 1 millimeter at the rear versus the Mustang GT. The car also features adjustable shocks and struts as standard equipment. “We’ve given drivers five settings for their shocks,” says Brent Clark, supervisor of the Mustang vehicle dynamics team. “One is the softest, two is the factory setting and five is the firmest, and we’ve provided a wide range of adjustment. A customer can drive to the track on setting two, crank it up to five for improved response on the track, then dial down to one for a more relaxed ride home. What’s unique is that drivers will find – thanks to the way the suspension works as a complete system – the softest setting isn’t too loose and the firmest setting isn’t too controlled; each step just provides additional levels of control.”
In classic fashion, the Mustang team opted for traditional race-style hands-on adjustability – similar to the Gabriel shocks available on the original Boss 302. “The shock adjustment is right at the top of the shock tower, built into the rod and easily accessible from under the hood or inside the trunk,” says Clark. “You just take a small flat-head screwdriver, turn the adjustment screw between one and five, and head back out onto the track.”
Another improvement is the modifications Ford made to the car’s speed-sensitive electronic steering system. Even better, drivers can select their level of steering control via comfort, normal, and sport modes. The Boss Mustang also comes with a unique traction control system (TCS) and electronic stability control (ESC) settings.
Smoke and Burning RubberNo doubt, it’s smoking fast, but how do you stop the thing? Fortunately the folks at Ford thought this through for us. The Boss Mustang features Brembo four-piston front calipers acting on 14-inch vented rotors up front. In the back, you’ll find the standard Mustang GT brakes are upgraded with a Boss-specific high-performance pad compound. Combined with vented brake shields and unique Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) tuning, Ford says Boss drivers get maximum control and rapid, repeatable fade-free stops in road and race situations alike.
“This car is wicked fast, so we put a lot of emphasis on giving it comparable stopping power,” says Clark. “We started with a race-proven brake system and tuned it specifically for the characteristics of the Boss 302 and its mission. They’re the best brakes ever installed on a Mustang, and they give consistent, repeatable braking performance on the street and the track.”
Ford reports 60-0 stopping distances for the Boss are improved by approximately three feet versus the Mustang GT with available brake package. “We achieved measurable improvements over GT, which was already one of the best-braking cars we’ve ever designed,” explains Clark, “but what’s harder to quantify is how good these brakes feel to a driver in a race situation. Like everything on this car, the brakes are more than the sum of their parts: They’re tuned from pad to pedal to work perfectly as a system, and the difference is dramatic.”
Power reaches the road thanks to a set of Pirelli PZero summer tires that are sized specifically for each end of the vehicle, with the front wheels receiving 255/40ZR-19 tires while the rear stays planted thanks to 285/35ZR-19 rubber. Those tires ride on lightweight 19-inch black alloy racing wheels in staggered widths: 9 inches in front, 9.5 inches in the rear. Ford says, “The combined suspension and tire package allows Boss to achieve a top speed of 155 mph and become the first non-SVT Mustang ever to achieve more than 1.0 g of lateral acceleration.”
Classic Looks for Modern TimesThere’s nothing like a classic. That said, Ford did all they could to incorporate the classic feel of the original Boss 302 into this car. Each car will have either a black or white roof panel, coordinated to the color of the side C-stripe. Available exterior colors are Competition Orange, Performance White, Kona Blue Metallic, Yellow Blaze Tri-Coat Metallic and Race Red. “We approached this as curators of a legend,” explains chief designer Darrell Behmer. “We’ve taken design cues from the ’69 Boss street car and the menacing Bud Moore/Parnelli Jones race cars and carefully updated them to give the 2012 the proper bad-boy attitude that is unmistakably a Boss Mustang.”
The car also features a unique fascia and grille highlighted by blocked-off fog lamp openings and an aggressive lower splitter. Ford says, “The front splitter is designed to function at high speeds by efficiently managing the air under and around the car. It helps to reduce underbody drag and front end lift while more effectively forcing air through the Boss-specific cooling system. At the rear of the car, the spoiler was chosen to complement the front aero treatment and minimize overall drag.”
“What we were after on Boss was reduced overall lift with improved balance,” says Pericak. “We needed to keep the car glued to the street or the track at high speeds without increasing drag or affecting top speed and fuel usage. The end result is an aero package that uses front, rear and underbody treatments not for show, but for effect – the balance and stability of this car all the way to its 155-mph top speed is just outstanding.”
Take a Look InsideFord cut no corners when designing the new Boss 302 Mustang. On the inside you’ll find a dark metallic instrument panel finish, unique gauge cluster, and custom door panel trim. My favorite feature is the black pool-cue shifter ball, as well as the “Powered by Ford” door sill plates. Oh, what about road noise? Well, some of us actually like to hear that engine rumble beneath our seats. That said, Ford removed eleven pounds of sound-deadening material to let occupants further enjoy the intake, engine, and exhaust note. You’ll also find a custom Boss steering wheel covered completely in Alcantara suede. An optional upgrade includes Recaro buckets, designed by Ford SVT in cooperation with Recaro for high performance Mustang models, and shared between the Boss and GT500.
Another option is the Boss 302 Laguna Seca model, named for the track where Parnelli Jones won the 1970 Trans-Am season opener in a Boss 302. Ford says this model will be aimed at racers more interested in on-track performance than creature comforts. The 302 Laguna Seca has increased body stiffness, a firmer chassis set-up, and an aerodynamics package carried over almost in its entirety from the Ford Racing Boss 302R.
Ford will also give all Boss owners a complimentary "Track Attack" day at Miller Motorsports Park. Owners need only to show up. Miller Motorsports Park will offer up a variety of Mustang GTs and BOSS Mustangs for your driving pleasure. The Boss Track Attack program, offered through Team Mustang and Ford Racing, will feature a full Boss immersion, driving instruction and plenty of track time with engineers and racers. The experience is designed to give Boss owners a comprehensive, hands-on look at exactly what their cars are capable of – and just how much fun they can be. “Boss is a hallowed word around here, and we couldn’t put that name on a new Mustang until we were sure everything was in place to make this car a worthy successor,” explains Pericak “We were either going to do it right or not do it at all – no one on the team was going to let Boss become a sticker and wheel package.
Pricing has yet to be announced, although reports say the base Boss will be sold for $40,995, including destination and delivery. The track-oriented Laguna Seca Package is said to start at $47,990. There is also no word on the exact number of models to be made available. One thing's for certain. They're sure to go fast!