Dial your odometer back to 1969, one of the most contentious years in the battle between the original ponycars, the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. By that year, Ford president Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen had poached designer Larry Shinoda from General Motors to massage the design that would house the Mustang's GT40-derived, 290-horsepower V-8. The displacement limit in the SCCA Trans Am series was 5.0 liters, which stoked the fire with the General's rival Camaro Z/28 coupe. American collective memory, however, would remember it as the 302, the cubic-inch figure that gave rise to the Boss 302 Mustang.
It was built for the track, with serious anti-roll bars, front disc brakes, and the ability to sprint to 60 in six seconds flat. But Knudsen, formerly of GM, ordered a version be built for mass consumption as a way to smoke Camaro drivers at stoplights. His dictum? "Make it absolutely the best-handling street car available on the American market!" Though the Boss lost to the Roger Penske's Trans Am Camaro team in '69, it took the trophy one year later with Parnelli Jones behind the wheel. The 302, known for its awesome power and sound, as well as Shinoda-designed tape graphics that set it apart from mere Mustangs, had taken its place in the pantheon of ponycars.
This resurrection of the storied Boss nomenclature is no mere graphics package or marketing ploy. The Mustang team channeled the spirit of that original project to create a true racecar for the road, employing a holistic approach that enhanced, upgraded, lightened and optimized the whole car for the purpose of vanquishing its archrival on race circuits like Laguna Seca. Oh, and that rival? Ford is no longer sparring with the Camaro. It's gunning for BMW's M3.