How often do you have an opportunity to own the best of anything? Well, this is it: For 2012, Ford offers the Mustang Boss 302, the quickest, best-handling straight-production Mustang ever produced. In an era when electric cars and hybrids are making headlines, there’s something satisfying in the knowledge that performance still lives.
The 1969 Boss 302 – the car that provides the DNA for the 2012 Mustang Boss 302 – was the best all-around, road-going performance automobile ever created. Sure, there were multi-thousand dollar, hand-built exotics, but nothing could touch the Boss 302, and if you had a job – any job – you could stretch yourself and own one.
Same deal this year. For 2012, Ford engineers, designers and stylists distilled the essence of the world-class Mustang GT to its purest form, making each system and component stronger, lighter and more refined, resulting in a true race car, but with a bumper you can hang a license tag from.
Driving the 2012 Mustang Boss 302 is a soul-stirring experience. If you’re used to cars that coddle and pamper the driver, prepare to be shocked. The Boss 302 acceleration curve is brutal. Yet it’s not just the tire-smoldering, quarter-mile torque monster you’d expect a modern pony car to be: Like the original Boss 302, the 2012 Boss 302 exhibits that horsepower as the tachometer sweeps to the redline, offering the high-rpm engine power of a thoroughbred racer. Engine modifications yield 444 hp and 380 lb/ft of torque.
This would all be for naught if you had to run right over to your local exhaust shop to get rid of the peashooter stock exhaust in favor of something throatier. According to Shawn Carney, Mustang NVH engineer, “the 2011 Mustang GT exhaust is already so free-flowing – it came in way under our backpressure targets – we already had excellent performance; we were able to tune the exhaust system for a unique sound. Combined with the rush of the intake, the exhaust system really envelops the driver in V8 sound.”
The Boss 302 runs a unique quad exhaust system: The two outlets exit in the rear similar to a standard Mustang GT. But two additional outlets exit on either side of the exhaust crossover, sending exhaust through a set of metal discs that act as tuners before the pipes end just ahead of the rear wheel opening. Visually subtle, the side pipes flow very little exhaust but generate a thrilling rumble, providing a sonic experience not just unlike any other Mustang, but unlike any other car available for a registration certificate today.
The bosses of the Boss mandated that this Mustang not only be a great straight-line performer, but a brilliant track car, as well. To that end, the Boss 302 features higher-rate coil springs on all four corners, stiffer suspension bushings and a larger-diameter rear stabilizer bar, all of which contribute to this car’s clearly obvious road racing mission. Boss are 11 mm lower at the front and a single millimeter lower at the rear, compared to the Mustang GT.
The key to that amazing handling, though, is the presence of adjustable shocks and struts, standard on all Boss Mustang models. “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.”
And to complement the adjustable suspension, the Boss 302 comes standard with lightweight, 19-inch black alloy racing wheels in staggered widths – 9 inches up front, 9.5 in the rear. Pirelli PZero summer tires wrap the rims.
Working in concert, the drivetrain and suspension components offer a top speed of 155mph, and the ability to achieve more than 1.0g lateral acceleration on the skidpad, the first non-SVT Mustang ever to achieve such a feat.
Brembo four-pot front brake calipers grab dinner-plate-sized 14-inch vented rotors. At the rear, the Mustang GT’s brakes are upgraded with high-performance compound pads. Low-compressibility brake lines expand 30 percent less than traditional flexible brake lines, allowing maximum fluid pressure to act on the pistons in the calipers. The result is that the Boss 302 can stop an amazing three feet shorter than a Mustang GT, even one equipped with the available performance braking option.
“The decision to build a modern Boss was not entered into lightly,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “The entire team at Ford felt the time was right, and with the right ingredients, the world-class 2011 Mustang could support a successful, race-bred, worthy successor to the original Boss 302. For us that meant a production Mustang that could top one of the world’s best – the 2010 BMW M3 – in lap times at Laguna Seca. We met our expectations.”
To emphasize that point – taking on the Europeans in their own game, on a track where Parnelli Jones won the 1970 Trans-Am season opener in a Boss 302 – Ford also offers the Boss 302 in an ultra-limited Boss 302 Laguna Seca form, with unique suspension modifications and more aggressive aerodynamics.
Taken in total, the 2012 Mustang Boss 302 is an animal, and one that will soon be extinct. Visit with us today to learn more about owning one of these special cars.