2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302. Click image to enlarge

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Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

When Ford Canada PR called to say that they had received an American-spec 2012 Boss 302 Mustang and asked if we would like to drive it for a couple of days, naturally we said “Yes!”

If there could be a downside to this request, it would be that the car would not come with a TracKey – the after-purchase, optional software and key that automatically selects full race calibration from the Boss’s dual-path powertrain control module – and we could not run the car on the track. Not a problem. A weekend in Ford’s new Boss, cruising the streets of Ottawa, would be just fine with us.

The 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 is the first real Boss in more than 40 years. For the 1969 model year, Ford introduced the original Boss 302 and the Boss 429. Both were sold in ’69 and ’70. A Boss 351 was also sold in 1971.

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302. Click image to enlarge

The 1969 and ’70 Boss 302 were designed to perform in SCCA Trans-Am racing. It was intended to be a well-balanced road race-car and, according to Ford’s CEO at the time, Semon “Bunkie” Knudson, to be “absolutely the best handling street car available on the American market.” The Boss 302 won the SCCA season opener in 1970, driven by Parnelli Jones at Laguna Seca raceway in California. Today the 1969 Boss 302 is one of the most sought after of the classic Mustangs. The last numbers-matching 1969 Boss 302 sold at Barrett-Jackson (in 2009) fetched $106,700.

Fast forward to 2011 when Ford made the decision to once again build a Boss 302 that would be true to the original Boss concept. It was not a decision taken lightly. The new Boss could not be a cosmetic package, not a beefed up model that could easily be replicated with aftermarket performance parts and not a shadow of the 1969 original.

The 2012 Mustang GT, with 412 horsepower, is no slouch. A Boss 302 had to be better – much better. And it is. Although 444 hp might not seem like much of an improvement considering the hefty price-tag for the new Boss, the mechanical changes are significant and extensive.

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302. Click image to enlarge

The decision was taken early on not to build performance through forced induction using a supercharger, for example, but to keep the Boss naturally aspirated as was the case in 1969.

The transformation from GT to Boss begins with a new intake – a runners-in-the-box plenum/velocity stack combination. 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. The result is a boost to 444 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque, while still offering a smooth idle and comfortable around-town driving.

Some of the other revisions that make the 5.0-litre engine in the Boss 302 unique to the Boss include:

  • Forged aluminum pistons and upgraded sinter-forged connecting rods for improved strength, needed for the higher combustion pressures and engine speeds
  • New high-strength aluminum-alloy cylinder heads with fully CNC-machined ports and chambers (requiring 2.5 hours of work for each) for exceptional high-r.p.m. airflow without sacrificing low-speed torque
  • Lightened valve-train components to provide excellent dynamic performance up to speeds well above the engine redline
  • Sodium-filled exhaust valves for improved heat dissipation
  • Race-specification crankshaft main and rod bearings for higher load capability and improved high-speed durability
  • 5W50 full-synthetic oil with engine oil cooler for improved oil pressure and longer-lasting lubrication during extreme racing conditions
  • Revised oil pan baffling for improved oil control under racing conditions and during cornering loads greater than 1.0 g.
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