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.