The Boss 302 was Ford’s answer to Chevrolet’s Camaro Z/28, not only for street credibility but also to provide a foundation for building a worthy competitor for the SCCA’s popular Trans-Am series. In particular, Ford needed to homologate a special under 5-liter V8 engine to compete in Trans-Am racing. They found it by bolting large-port Cleveland four-barrel heads onto the existing 302 Windsor short-block.
For the street, the Boss 302 produced a Z/28-matching 290 horsepower. Everything was heavy-duty—nine-inch rear axle, Toploader four-speed, even the shock towers were braced to handle the loads from the new Goodyear F60 tires. Performance was the goal—automatic transmission and air-conditioning were not available. The Boss 302 looked the part with stripes and black-out graphics by Ford designer Larry Shinoda, who also coined the “Boss” name.
Ford produced 1,628 Boss 302s for 1969—more than enough to legalize the model for racing—then upped production to 7,014 for 1970, a year that saw Parnelli Jones win the Trans-Am championship in a Bud Moore-prepped Boss 302.
High-performance, rarity, muscular looks, and a racing pedigree—the Boss 302 had all the ingredients to place it firmly at the top of any most significant Mustang list.
About the photograph: This 1969 Boss 302 Mustang went home with super-lucky Thomas Barker in the 2011 Mustang Dream Giveaway.
Story by Donald Farr
Photography courtesy of Dream Giveaway Garage