The 1969 Mustang Boss 302 is a fine example of American muscle. This sleek, powerful and iconic car commands premium prices in today’s market. While the rivalry between Ford’s Mustang and Chevy’s Camaro is well documented, the story behind this competition is less known. Here is a behind the scenes look at the making of a legend.
The 1969 Mustang Boss 302- A Legend In The Making
Henry II, grandson of Henry Ford is preoccupied. The year is 1967 and Chevrolet’s Z28 is on the cusp of overtaking Ford’s Mustang as the best selling pony car in America. For Henry, this is not only a matter of dollars and cents but also a matter of pride. After all, Ford invented the pony car and the idea that the Z28 could end it all is unthinkable. This, however, is a very real possibility.
The 1967 Mustang models have bigger engines and perform better than the original 1965 pony car. Despite this, they are no match for Mopar muscle. The z28 solidly whips the Mustang at the Trans- Am races of that year.To make matters worse, the Mustang is also lagging behind the Z28 in public opinion and with industry insiders. Everyone seems to agree that the Mustang is passe and that Camaro is the car of the future.
Bunkie Knudsen, Henry’s right-hand man is also aware of the troubles that ail the Mustang. He decides to hire Larry Shinoda, a well known and talented automotive designer. Shinoda has an impressive resume which includes work on Chevy’s Stingray. Bunkie Knudsen hopes that Larry can design a Mustang to best the Z28 at the race track and at car dealerships across the country.
Producing a car capable of besting the excellent Z28 while restoring Ford’s reputation for producing top of the line racing cars is a tall order. Larry delivers and the Boss 302 makes its debut in 1969. Car and Drive hail the Boss as “The Best Mustang Yet.”
Exterior Colors and Interior Options
A first look at the Boss 302 and one immediately notices that the car is striking. It looks every inch the race car with its attractive lines and well-placed decals. The clever use of matte black ensure that this Mustang is unforgettable. This matte detail appears on the center hood, rocker panels and rear window. The car is relatively rare with only 1638 models produced for 1969. The Boss 302 is available in the SportsRoof Fastback body style. Four exterior color options are available-Acapulco Blue, Calypso Coral, Bright Yellow and Wimbledon White. Wimbledon white is the rarest color with only 194 examples produced.
In terms of the interior, the option is black or white with most customers choosing black. The Boss 302 sports a 4 speed top loader manual transmission. Those wanting the automatic option will have to look elsewhere. This is a race car after all.
Engine and Suspension
Under the hood, things get exciting. The 1969 Mustang Boss 302, engineered to compete in the Trans-Am races, has to be agile and easily maneuverable . It also has to do this while racing at breakneck speed. This is no small feat. To achieve this, Mat Donner, an engineer at Ford, outfits the Boss with a ‘competition suspension package’. This package includes a heavy-duty spindle, a more robust sway bar and front disc brakes. The signature special Cleveland heads fitted to the Windsor 351 block engine is also part of this special package
. These modifications ensure that the Boss 302 handles superbly.
Despite all the effort, it would be another year, 1970 to be exact before the Boss 302 can capture the Trans-Am race title from the Z28. All in all ,the 302 is a remarkable and highly sought after classic car which is sure to keep appreciating.
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