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Automobile - 2012 Mustang Boss 302 and the 10 greatest mustangs ever

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Just the Boss segment of the article

"Given how enthusiastically Ford has mined the Mustang's rich history, it was only a matter of time before we would see the Boss nameplate again. Well, the time has come: Ford rolled out the new Mustang Boss 302 (for static display only) at the historic races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California. The car will rumble into dealerships next spring as a 2012 model.

The corral of high-performance Mustangs is getting crowded. After all, the Mustang GT is newly fortified with 412 hp from its recently introduced 5.0-liter engine, and the Mustang Shelby GT500 pounds out 550 hp from its supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. So one might reasonably wonder where the Boss 302 fits in.

The short answer is: between the two, in both price and performance. But the more in-depth answer is that this car isn't supposed to be merely an intermediate step in a hierarchy of hopped-up Mustangs; it's actually something racier, more hard-core, and really, really cool.

Like its 1969 namesake-which was essentially a street version of the SCCA Trans-Am race car-the new Boss 302 was designed with an eye toward the track. That's particularly true of the Boss 302 Laguna Seca edition, a limited-production, streetable track version that tosses out the back seats in favor of additional body stiffeners and features an even more extreme chassis setup.

Both the standard Boss 302 and the Laguna Seca move the Mustang away from a traditional, Detroit-style muscle car that is focused on 0-to-60-mph performance first and handling second. Instead, the dictum with the Boss was to create "the best-handling Mustang ever." Mustang engineers also aimed to increase power output not with a heavy-though effective-supercharger, but instead by getting the 5.0-liter V-8 to rev more freely. They also wanted to give it more power in the upper rev ranges, consistent with how the Boss will likely be used on a track.

Thus, changes to the 5.0-liter V-8 were not just to increase its output but also to alter its nature. Not surprisingly, the modifications are extensive. There's a new intake manifold and ported cylinder heads for better breathing. An engine oil cooler, a lighter-weight valvetrain, forged (rather than cast) aluminum pistons, and forged connecting rods are designed to handle higher engine speeds. Ford engineers used the Boss 302R racing car as a development test bed, and, based on their experience at the track, they revised the road car's radiator to improve engine cooling and added baffles to the oil pan to prevent oil starvation. The net result of all these changes is an engine redline that has been raised by 500 rpm to 7500 rpm and an increase in power output from 412 hp to 440 hp at 7500 rpm-at a cost of 10 lb-ft of peak torque, with the Boss 302's V-8 rated at 380 lb-ft at 4500 rpm.

One of the more interesting aspects of the Boss engine is its exhaust system. Supplementing the standard Mustang GT's dual exhausts are two additional pipes that exit just ahead of the rear wheels. These side exhaust outlets incorporate metal discs that keep the sound at legal levels-but they are removable, should the owner want something louder. The Boss is plenty vocal even with the discs in place, as the induction sound tube has been retuned and eleven pounds of sound deadening have been stripped out.

The engine sends power rearward via an upgraded clutch with a steel-backed disc and a short-throw, close-ratio six-speed manual (no automatic is available). Whereas the Mustang GT has a 3.31:1 final-drive ratio, the Boss gets a 3.73:1 unit, with carbon-fiber friction plates in its limited slip; a Torsen rear axle is standard on the Laguna Seca model and is optional (bundled with Recaro seats) on the regular Boss 302.

Any car expecting to see racetrack duty needs serious brakes, and so the Boss upgrades from the Mustang GT's 13.2-inch front discs to the GT500's fourteen-inch vented front discs and four-piston Brembo calipers. The GT's standard 11.8-inch rear rotors are retained, but the pad material is upgraded. Brake lines have been stiffened to improve pedal feel. The Laguna Seca additionally receives front brake-cooling ducts-they're available as an accessory for the standard Boss 302.

As expected, the Boss features firmer springs, antiroll bars, and suspension bushings, but the car takes the driver-tunable racing aspect one step further with manually adjustable front and rear dampers. The fronts are accessible from under the hood and the rears from in the trunk; drivers can use a screwdriver to select one of five stiffness settings. Position 1 is equivalent to a GT with the Brembo brake package, while positions 2 through 5 are progressively stiffer. The Laguna Seca's softest setting (1) matches the Boss 302's firmest setting (5). The steering effort is also driver-adjustable. Electric power steering was introduced with the 2011 model year, and as in the Mustang GT, drivers can choose among three effort levels. Similarly, the traction and stability control systems include a competition mode that allows greater drift angles, or they can be shut off entirely.

The tire and wheel package consists of nineteen-inch aluminum alloys for both cars. The Boss 302 wheels, painted black, are nine inches wide in the front and 9.5 inches in the rear and are wrapped in Pirelli PZero rubber; the Laguna Seca wheels are another half-inch wider in back, are finished in orange and silver, and use R-compound PZeros.

Ford likes to say that the Boss isn't just a sticker-and-wheel package. True enough, but that doesn't mean that exterior graphics have been ignored. Indeed, the huge C-stripe on the side is an unmistakable homage to the original 1969 Boss. The stripe color (black or white) is repeated on the hood and the roof. Additional exterior design elements include a front splitter, a rear wing, and a grille with blanked-out foglight holes (why not just design a new grille?). Body colors are red, blue, orange, yellow, or white. The Laguna Seca gets red graphics, with additional color splashes on the grille surround and mirror caps. Its base body colors are black or silver only. It also has more extreme aero aids, taken directly from the 302R racing car.

Inside, the Boss's look is subtle-at least in the standard car. (In the Laguna Seca, it's hard to miss the giant X-brace where the back seats used to be.) Recaro front buckets, from the GT500, are standard in the Laguna Seca and optional in the Boss 302. The steering wheel is wrapped in Alcantara, and there's dark metallic trim. The Laguna Seca adds a gauge pack with water temperature, oil pressure, and a multifunction readout for quarter-mile times, lateral g's, and such (the multifunction readout, at least, should be on the regular Boss, too). There's also a new gauge cluster with the tachometer redlined at 7500 rpm and a 180-mph speedometer.

The latter is indicative of the Boss 302's higher top speed-155 mph (same as the GT500), versus 145 mph for the Mustang GT. Ford is otherwise being coy with regard to the car's specific performance capabilities, except to say that the Boss 302 should be good for 1 g of lateral grip and the Laguna Seca capable of 1.03 g. We expect the Boss to shave a fraction of a second off the GT's 0-to-60-mph run, since it weighs about the same but adds another 28 hp. But this car is more about track times than straight-line sprints, and one performance spec that Mustang engineers were not shy about touting was their claim that the Boss 302 can beat a BMW M3 around the Laguna Seca road course. If that proves to be true, they will have created a serious road racer that not only pays homage to the Boss Mustang legend but writes a whole new chapter."
 
Thanks for posting. I had not read about the difference in shock settings between the Boss and LS. I've driven a Brembo equipped GT and it's pretty stiff but not unbearable. I bet the LS is going to be one rough ride around town.

Position 1 is equivalent to a GT with the Brembo brake package, while positions 2 through 5 are progressively stiffer. The Laguna Seca's softest setting (1) matches the Boss 302's firmest setting (5).
 
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5 DOT 0 said:
Thanks for posting. I had not read about the difference in shock settings between the Boss and LS. I've driven a Brembo equipped GT and it's pretty stiff but not unbearable. I bet the LS is going to be one rough ride around town.

Position 1 is equivalent to a GT with the Brembo brake package, while positions 2 through 5 are progressively stiffer. The Laguna Seca's softest setting (1) matches the Boss 302's firmest setting (5).

I'm not 100% certain that is correct. That info has never been mentioned by Ford in any of their press releases, website, or other info to my knowledge. The only source of that tidbit is this specific article.
 
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Vince said:
5 DOT 0 said:
Thanks for posting. I had not read about the difference in shock settings between the Boss and LS. I've driven a Brembo equipped GT and it's pretty stiff but not unbearable. I bet the LS is going to be one rough ride around town.

Position 1 is equivalent to a GT with the Brembo brake package, while positions 2 through 5 are progressively stiffer. The Laguna Seca's softest setting (1) matches the Boss 302's firmest setting (5).

I'm not 100% certain that is correct. That info has never been mentioned by Ford in any of their press releases, website, or other info to my knowledge. The only source of that tidbit is this specific article.

Actually it is also mentioned in Motortrend

https://trackmustangsonline.com/index.php?topic=24.0

"Suspension changes to match the tires and vehicle mission include softer front and firmer rear springs, a bigger rear anti-roll bar, and damper settings that are virtually all firmer than the mainstream Boss (setting 1 or 2 roughly equals setting 5 on the base Boss)."

and link to the actual article

http://m.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupes/1008_2012_ford_mustang_boss_302/laguna_seca.html

Although it is not uncommon for the mags to get the details wrong, having this tidbit mentioned in two sources means that it is probably true. I would also say that there is a reason Ford is saying the LS is a racecar with a license plate. I doubt the difference is just the bigger rear bar.

The Boss on setting 5 should be as stiff as almost anyone would want and I expect that many LS buyers will be surprised at just how stiff it really is.
 
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Mark said:
Vince said:
5 DOT 0 said:
Thanks for posting. I had not read about the difference in shock settings between the Boss and LS. I've driven a Brembo equipped GT and it's pretty stiff but not unbearable. I bet the LS is going to be one rough ride around town.

Position 1 is equivalent to a GT with the Brembo brake package, while positions 2 through 5 are progressively stiffer. The Laguna Seca's softest setting (1) matches the Boss 302's firmest setting (5).

I'm not 100% certain that is correct. That info has never been mentioned by Ford in any of their press releases, website, or other info to my knowledge. The only source of that tidbit is this specific article.

Actually it is also mentioned in Motortrend

https://trackmustangsonline.com/index.php?topic=24.0

"Suspension changes to match the tires and vehicle mission include softer front and firmer rear springs, a bigger rear anti-roll bar, and damper settings that are virtually all firmer than the mainstream Boss (setting 1 or 2 roughly equals setting 5 on the base Boss)."

and link to the actual article

http://m.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupes/1008_2012_ford_mustang_boss_302/laguna_seca.html

Although it is not uncommon for the mags to get the details wrong, having this tidbit mentioned in two sources means that it is probably true. I would also say that there is a reason Ford is saying the LS is a racecar with a license plate. I doubt the difference is just the bigger rear bar.

The Boss on setting 5 should be as stiff as almost anyone would want and I expect that many LS buyers will be surprised at just how stiff it really is.

Sorry if I'm probably getting my magazine articles confused. I'd like to see a Ford source quoted. For all I know, the second article could be "quoting" the first article. I'm not sure if there is an ownership/editorial relationship between these two magazines as there is between C&D and R&T.

If what the two magazines say is true, it would mean the highest setting on an LS is a nine if the GT Brembo is a one. If true, I doubt it is anywhere near a linear progression.

In addition to a 1mm larger sway bar, the LS also has different rear springs and wider rear wheels along with "racier" rubber.

The various videos have Ford reps referring to both Boss variants as race cars with license plates. The preview video running around is the video where it appears just the LS is referred to (by Edsel Ford?) as the racecar with a license plate
 

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