The Boss Is Back: 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Brings Road Racing Legend Back To The Streets

By -
  • The Boss returns! Limited production 2012 Mustang Boss 302
    set to become the quickest, best-handling straight-production Mustang
    ever offered by Ford, based on the world-class foundation provided by
    the 2011 Mustang GT
  • Boss upgraded in nearly every vehicle system; engine output,
    brakes, suspension, interior and exterior all examined to optimize
    weight, aerodynamics and track performance >
  • Full Mustang team effort results in a comprehensive
    re-engineering available only through the factory; new Boss is not a
    package that can be purchased out of a catalog or achieved through
    tuning or aftermarket parts
  • Limited-production track-oriented Boss 302 Laguna Seca model
    expands on Boss racing aspirations, deleting rear seat and adding
    race-ready suspension and aerodynamic treatments

For More Information
Visit the 2012 Boss 302 Mini Site

MONTEREY, Calif., Aug. 13, 2010 – Ford gave the green light only
once before: In 1968, management approved a special Mustang – a car
that sacrificed nothing in its quest to be the best all-around
road-going performance machine ever created by Ford Motor Company. That
car became the 1969 Mustang Boss 302, and it remains one of the world’s
most sought-after examples of American performance.

Forty-two years later, Ford has given the green light again.

The team of Ford engineers, designers and stylists – all Mustang
enthusiasts to the core – that created the groundbreaking 2011 Mustang
GT has distilled a new model to its purest form, strengthening,
lightening and refining each system to create a race car with a license
plate. Its name: the 2012 Mustang Boss 302.

“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 celebrate the racing heritage of the new Mustang Boss 302, Ford will also offer a limited number of Boss 302 Laguna Seca
models, named for the track where Parnelli Jones won the 1970 Trans-Am
season opener in a Boss 302. Aimed at racers more interested in
on-track performance than creature comforts, the Boss 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.

Philosophy and powertrain
“The new Boss 302 completely redefines Mustang capability,” said Mark
Fields, Ford president of The Americas. “That the Mustang team was able
to take the current Mustang GT – already a world-class performance car
– and refine it further for peak track performance shows the
commitment Ford has to this car and its legions of fans.”

Driving the 2012 Mustang Boss 302 was intended from the outset to be
a visceral experience, packed with raw, unbridled performance across
the spectrum: Acceleration, handling, braking, and top speed are all
equally matched for perfect balance on a car operating within the
framework of legally defined safety, noise and emissions regulations.

“The team at Ford wanted to offer their fellow Mustang enthusiasts
something really special – a beautifully balanced factory-built race
car that they could drive on the street,” explains Dave Pericak,
Mustang chief engineer. “The Boss 302 isn’t something a Mustang GT
owner can buy all the parts for out of a catalog or that a tuner can
get by adding a chip. This is a front-to-back re-engineered Mustang
with every system designed to make a good driver great and a great
driver even better.”

Led by Mike Harrison, the V8 engine team approached Boss from the
top down: With 412 horsepower from 5.0 liters, the 2011 GT engine was
already an incredible performer. But to achieve the high-rpm horsepower
that would make the engine competitive on the track, a new intake was
essential. The resulting runners-in-the-box plenum/velocity stack
combination the engine team developed was impressive enough that it got
the green light after one short drive.

Helping the intake build power, revised camshafts using a more
aggressive grind are actuated with the same twin independent variable
camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) mechanism used on the Mustang GT. More
aggressive control calibration yields 440 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of
torque, while still offering a smooth idle and low-end torque for
comfortable around-town driving.  

A race-inspired clutch with upgraded friction materials transmits
power, while a short-throw, close-ratio six-speed manual transmission
handles gear change duties.

Power is delivered to a 3.73 ratio rear axle using carbon fiber
plates in the limited-slip differential to improve torque handling and
longevity. For those who want even more precise control over power
delivery, a torque-sensing (Torsen) limited-slip differential is an
available option coupled with Recaro front seats.

Sounds like the Boss
While the powertrain team defined output targets that would yield an
ideal balance with the chassis, another team made sure the car made the
kind of sounds owners and enthusiasts would expect from a Mustang

Up front, a Boss-specific intake system is tuned to feed the engine
with minimum restrictions. A retuned induction sound tube provides
concrete aural evidence of what’s occurring under the hood. And, in the
Boss exhaust system engineers really had some fun.

“With an exhaust system, we have to consider three constraints:
legal noise restrictions; backpressure, which can rob power; and ground
clearance,” explains Shawn Carney, Mustang NVH engineer. “Since 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.”

Every Boss features a unique quad exhaust system: Two outlets exit in
the rear similar to a standard Mustang GT. The other two outlets exit
to either side of the exhaust crossover, sending exhaust through a set
of metal discs that act as tuning elements before the pipes terminate
just ahead of the rear wheel opening. Visually subtle, the side pipes
flow very little exhaust but a lot of exhaust sound, providing a sonic
experience unlike any other Mustang.

Suspension and steering
In keeping with the Boss mandate to provide the best-handling Mustang
ever, the already strong Mustang GT suspension system has been further
refined. Higher-rate coil springs on all four corners, stiffer
suspension bushings and a larger-diameter rear stabilizer bar all
contribute to the road racing mission, and Boss models are lowered by
11 millimeters at the front and 1 millimeter at the rear versus the
Mustang GT. The real key to handling, though, is in the 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. 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.”

Also unique is the method of shock adjustment. Ditching the weight
and complexity of electronic wizardry, 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

To complement the suspension, the speed-sensitive electronic
steering system has been retuned to maximize feedback and road feel to
the driver. The driver is also given the option of fine-tuning the
steering feel to his liking by selecting one of three settings through
the instrument cluster menu: Comfort, normal and sport modes help offer
track-tuned steering when desired without sacrificing low-speed
maneuverability in parking situations and everyday commuting.

Similarly, Boss receives unique traction control system (TCS) and
electronic stability control (ESC) settings to help drivers achieve
maximum performance whether on the street or at the track. Both systems
can be completely disabled in controlled track situations where
maximum driver skill is utilized, or fully engaged for maximum safety
during normal driving or in less-than-ideal traction conditions.
Intermediate sport mode allows drivers to push their cars hard at the
track without completely disabling the safety systems, permitting more
aggressive driving before the TCS and ESC systems intervene.

Brakes, wheels and tires
Working in concert with the suspension upgrades, Boss 302 receives
unique, lightweight 19-inch black alloy racing wheels in staggered
widths: 9 inches in front, 9.5 inches in the rear. The Pirelli PZero
summer tires 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.

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.

Boss braking is also up to the challenge, using Brembo four-piston
front calipers acting on 14-inch vented rotors up front. In the back,
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, Boss drivers get maximum
control and rapid, repeatable fade-free stops in road and race
situations alike.

The Mustang team spent considerable time ensuring the brake pedal
feel met the expectations of performance drivers. Boss receives unique
low-compressibility brake lines that expand up to 30 percent less than
traditional flexible brake lines, allowing maximum fluid pressure to
reach the calipers in the least amount of time, giving the driver a
sensation of being connected directly to the brake pads.

“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.”

As a result 60-0 stopping distances for the Boss are improved by
approximately three feet versus the Mustang GT with available brake
package; combined with suspension and engine improvements, Boss is
expected to show approximately a two-second lap time improvement over
the GT on a typical road race course. But the numbers tell only part of
the story.

“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.”

Exterior and interior design
Changes to the Mustang Boss exterior are subtle but unmistakable. True
to its race-bred heritage, every component that could potentially aid
aerodynamics or engine/brake performance was examined to make the
vehicle more competitive, while chief designer Darrell Behmer refined
the styling to evoke the 1969 Boss in a contemporary way.

“We approached this as curators of a legend,” explains 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

To set Boss apart, 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.

Up front, a unique fascia and grille are highlighted by the
blocked-off fog lamp openings and aggressive lower splitter, a version
of the design used – and proven – on the Boss 302R race car. 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.”

Inside, a unique Boss steering wheel covered completely in Alcantara
suede complements the standard seats, which are trimmed in cloth with a
suede-like center insert to firmly hold occupants in place. Boss
customers who want the ultimate seating experience can select a package
that includes Recaro buckets, designed by Ford SVT in cooperation with
Recaro for high performance Mustang models, and shared between the
Boss and GT500.

A dark metallic instrument panel finish, gauge cluster and door
panel trim also differentiate Boss from the standard Mustang, while a
black pool-cue shifter ball and “Powered by Ford” door sill plates
further remind customers they’re in a special car. 

The Boss interior gets an aural kick thanks to what’s been removed.
Eleven pounds of sound-deadening material have been eliminated to let
occupants further enjoy the intake, engine and exhaust note.  

“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.”

For More Information
Visit the 2012 Boss 302 Mini Site

# # #

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in
Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six
continents. With about 159,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide,
the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury,
production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in
the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services
through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding
Ford’s products, please visit

Comments ()