From the June 1969 Challenge of Automotive and Driver.
The take a look at questions have all been requested and it is time for the Ford Motor Firm handy in its paper. Passing or failing will likely be decided, as a lot as something, by the way in which the Mustang Boss 302 maintains its dignity on Ford’s dealing with course, a serpentine stretch of asphalt in the course of what may move for one among Dearborn’s golf programs. And proper there it’s, parked, or quite poised, on the entrance to the monitor—Ford’s reply to the Z/28. The temper is tense. Matt Donner, principal engineer in control of Mustang/Cougar trip and dealing with, waits, anxious to have the Cobra Jet Mach 1 blot faraway from the file or at the least outdated by one thing a bit extra meritorious.
Two barely worn crash helmets are produced from the again seat, one for Donner and one for our technical editor, doing nothing, to dilute the battle-to-the-death environment that strengthens because the second for the shoot-out approaches. The Mustang does not assist a lot both, sitting there like a cocked .357 Magnum able to do its specialty with not more than a nudge. Donner assumes his battle station behind the wheel. We’ll decide the primary spherical from the passenger facet. Seat belts; click on. Shoulder belts; click on. Key within the slot, flip . . . and the Boss 302 awakes with undisguised belligerence. Nostril out on the monitor, first gear, second, third and a low anguished moan from the fats Goodyears because the Mustang threads into the primary flip. Two necks pressure to maintain their heavy, helmeted heads balanced on their respective shoulders. Into the subsequent flip, a decent 200-foot radius left hander, tail frolicked and the within entrance wheels clipping the grass on the apex. Left flip, proper flip, lap after lap at exhilarating speeds—Donner is submitting his homework in a most convincing vogue.
Our flip. Simple at first, remembering the beak-heavy Mach 1 that plowed straight on with its entrance tires smoking in case you tried to rush. However the Boss 302 is one other type of Mustang. It merely drives across the turns with a type of detachment by no means earlier than skilled in a road automotive carrying Ford emblems. Sooner and sooner, however its composure by no means slips. Alter the road with the steering wheel or with the throttle or each. Hold the tail means out with a fast flick of the wheel and a legful of fuel. Do no matter you want and the automotive complies with the accuracy of your shadow. Very merely, the Boss 302 is unshakable. Maneuvers that had been extremely unsettling in earlier Mustangs have a leisure air about them within the Boss 302. The automotive understeers, however not a lot—it has simply precisely the appropriate stability to permit you to drive as an alternative of plow by a flip. The steering responds to corrections proper up till you rooster out, and the automotive’s angle in a flip is awfully delicate to energy. This isn’t to say that you just spin out in case you dip too deeply into the fuel, however quite which you can order up and maintain any drift angle you want. Even higher, the dealing with traits stay the identical whether or not you are cornering at six- or nine-tenths of the automotive’s skill. For sure the Boss 302 is the very best dealing with Ford ever to come back out of Dearborn and could be the brand new customary by which all the things from Detroit should be judged.
Whereas we’re all reeling from this surprising improvement maybe we should always retrace our steps again to the start and look at Ford’s motives for such an development. You see, there may be this factor known as the youth market which seems to have an insatiable urge for food for wildly trimmed efficiency automobiles and may summon up the money, or at the least the month-to-month funds, to indulge itself. Chevrolet has all the time been notably delicate to those youthful calls for.
When Ford found that Chevy bought 7,000 Z/28 Camaros in 1968, and the advertising demographers predicted that as much as 20,000 is perhaps bought in 1969, there was no alternative however hoist the bugle and blow the cost. Not solely was Chevrolet promoting automobiles to clients who might need purchased an equal Mustang if it was obtainable, however Chevy was additionally reaching a incredible repute each time the David-like Z/28 dusted off any person’s, and possibly one among Ford’s, Goliaths. It is not that Chevrolet had created a very conspicuous vehicle, however the Z/28’s mixture of endearing mechanical presence and glowing efficiency had made it the automotive for these within the know.
Ford wanted the Boss 302 for one different motive. The SCCA says that for any trick half to be authorized within the Trans-Am it has to look on at the least 1000 road automobiles. That signifies that spoilers or aerodynamic improvements of any type, and excessive carry outance engine components like blocks and cylinder heads, must be at the least restricted professionalduction gadgets. Constructing only a handful of components like final 12 months’s 302 tunnel-ports is certainly verboten. So, since Ford has to construct at the least 1000 of those pseudo-racers if it desires to play within the Trans-Am, it’d simply as nicely make them seen and try and chock the wheels of the quick promoting Z/28.
These are the explanations, however in Detroit’s conflict of mannequin proliferation to compete with, and get forward of, all people else’s mannequin proliferation, Ford has handled itself to a wholesome escalation. The Boss 302 is a bell of an fanatic’s automotive. It is what the Shelby GT 350s and 500s ought to have been however weren’t. Ford stylists have achieved an advertmirable job in creating a visible carry outance picture for the Mustang variants this 12 months and the Boss 302 is not any exception. It is clearly a Mustang however distinctly distinctive on the similar time.
Matte black paint utilized to the hood, rear deck and across the headlights is a typical a part of the package deal, as is the tape “C” stripe with the Boss 302 insert on the facet of the physique. Because the shovel-shaped spoiler underneath the entrance bumper works, at the least on the race monitor, it’s customary equipment, too, as a result of Ford desires to ensure 1000 of them are bought earlier than the primary race. One thing the much less astute won’t discover is that the news slightly below the rear quarter window has been crammed in. As Jacque Passino mentioned, “The purist automotive individuals count on scoops to scoop one thing, and since that one did not it needed to go.” The true visible sauce—the venetian blind “sport slats” on the again window and the adjustable wing on the rear deck-is non-compulsory. The slats are literally a one-piece association, hinged on the high and latched on the backside, so it may be tilted up earlier than washing the rear window.
Styling is simply a fraction of the Boss 302’s story. The engine, since it’s the foundation for the Trans-Am racer, has not been neglected. Each spring it is time for the annual altering of the cylinder heads in Ford’s efficiency division. Final 12 months’s tunnel-port racing setup is being changed by a model new design which has canted valves very like Ford’s road 429 and Chevrolet’s 396-427. Tunnel-ports are out however large valves are in. The consumption valves, with a diameter of two.23 inches, are solely 0.02 smaller than these in a Chrysler 426 Hemi. Ports, too, are beneficiant in measurement. The brand new heads are meant for racing in addition to road use and can match the 302 and 351 V-8s in addition to all of the 289s presently running round on the road. Different 1969 features embody new pistons to evolve to the brand new combustion chamber form and 4-bolt important bearing caps for backside finish energy. An aluminum excessive rise consumption manifold with a 780 cubic-feet-per-minute Holley 4-bbl. tops off the package deal. Ford charges the output at 290 hp (similar because the Z/28) @ 5800 rpm, and nobody will dispute that it makes at the least that a lot. Customary with the engine is a large ratio (2.78 first gear) transmission and a 3.50 axle, which strikes us as a really perfect compromise for each low velocity acceleration and cozy expressway cruising.
New engine however, it is the Boss 302’s dealing with that makes the automotive outstanding and it was achieved with comparatively few adjustments. Most seen is the tires—Goodyear F60-15 polyglas balloons that put greater than eight inches of rubber on the road-mounted on 7-inch vast wheels. The tires are so vast that particular entrance and rear fenders, with revised wheel openings and reshaped rear wheel homes, needed to be designed for the Boss 302. To clear the entrance suspension additionally required that the wheels be offset farther towards the surface of the automotive which, in flip, required new entrance spindles with bigger wheel bearings. Fats tires have to essentially grip the pavement to be price that a lot hassle—these do.
The Mustang’s new-found dealing with ability demanded a better revision of the engineering division’s philosophy than it did of suspension components. Kicking the underneathsteering behavior is not any simpler than giving up the weed or peyote nuts and Ford is to be recommended on its rehabilitation. One factor was in its favor from the very begin and that’s weight distribution—55.7% on the Boss 302’s entrance wheels in comparison with 59.3% for the 428 Mach I. However there may be extra but. Entrance springs and anti-sway bar are softer on the Boss whereas the rear leaf springs are stiffer—all of which tends to scale back understeer. Shock absorbers and the suspension geometry is carried over with no modifications.
Whether or not you order guide or energy steering, the gear ratio is similar, at 16-to-one. The take a look at automotive, with its guide steering, by no means may very well be accused of a Jack of street really feel once we had been flailing. Sadly, on this crowded world, you possibly can’t flail a lot and nonetheless preserve a very good grip in your driver’s license, and energy steering is much better suited to routine site visitors conditions. We have pushed far worse guide steering automobiles however parking the Boss 302 continues to be equal to about six push-ups.
The Boss 302 we drove is an engineering prototype and the one one in existence at press time. In truth, it had been in Ford’s wind tunnel to test the impact of the rear spoiler simply earlier than our session on the take a look at monitor. Usually we keep away from doing a full street take a look at on a prototype as a result of it won’t be typical of a manufacturing automotive, however on this case the weatherman did not even give us an opportunity. The rain began between the dealing with course and Detroit Dragway, the place the acceleration and braking components of the take a look at had been to be carried out, and did not cease for the remainder of the day. For that motive the efficiency knowledge on the specification web page has been calculated from data provided by Ford’s engineering division—positively not our regular process however higher than nothing. We do have some very distinct driving impressions aside from these on the dealing with course nevertheless, which must be handed alongside. Trip high quality is towards the stiff facet, notably within the rear which crashes with vengeance over large irregularities within the street. Nonetheless, contemplating the dealing with, it is a good commerce out.
Once you converse of engines on this class of automotive the Z/28, with its nervous and jerky deportment and ultra-quick response within the 12-cylinder, dohc, Italian vogue, is the usual of comparability. The Boss 302 has a temperament fully not like its competitor. It idles easily and quietly with nearly no mechanical noise and has common response, neither fast nor sluggish. It may simply discover a dwelling in a Falcon and nobody can be the wiser, at the least till the Holley’s secondaries snapped open. Ford claims that its new little motor really makes extra energy than the Z/28 however, subjectively, the automotive does not really feel fairly as quick. Actually it does not have the marginally tamed racing automotive persona which has gained the Z/28 throngs of associates. Ford engineers even volunteered that the Boss could be readily launched in second gear they usually’re proper—for whatever that is price in your racer reproduction.
Roaring round Ford’s take a look at monitor and splashing by Detroit from suburb to suburb has made believers out of us. If the manufacturing automobiles are anyplace close to pretty much as good because the prototype, the Boss 302 is well the very best Mustang but, and that features all the Shelbys and Mach ls. After receiving no recognition aside from gold stars for attendance in our street assessments for the final a number of years Ford has realized its classes nicely. The Boss 302 Mustang earned itself an A for this semester.
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