Ford’s First True Muscle Car- The History Of The Boss 302
The 1969 Mustang Boss 302 is one of the most iconic American classic cars. Recognized everywhere and anywhere, the car is a bestseller from the start. Even today, the Boss 302 is a highly sought-after classic car.
In 1967 however, the car is a gamble and the future of the Mustang is uncertain because of Chevrolet’s Z28.
The Z28 is on the verge of replacing Ford’s Mustang as the best-selling pony car in America.
For Henry Ford II, this is a matter of dollars and cents. It is also a matter of pride. After all, Ford invented the muscle car. The idea that the Z28 is about to replace the Mustang is almost unthinkable, but a very real possibility.
While the 1967 models are better than the original 1965 Mustang, they are no match for Mopar Muscle. The Z28 is simply a better car. To make matters worse, the Z28 solidly whips the Mustang at the race track. . Everyone seems to agree that the Mustang is passe and that Camaro is the pony car of the future.
A Different Kind Of Mustang
Bunkie Knudsen, Henry’s right-hand man, is also well-versed in the troubles that ail the Mustang. He decides to hire Larry Shinoda, a talented automotive designer with the hopes that he can design a Mustang to best the Z28. The goal is simple- to design a Mustang that will win at the Trans Am races while outselling the Z28 in 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. However, Larry delivers, and the Boss 302 makes its debut in 1969. Car and Drive hail the Boss as “The Best Mustang Yet”
A first look at the 1969 Mustang Boss 302 and one immediately notices that the car is striking and looks every inch the race car. Its attractive lines, well-placed decals and the clever use of matte black on the center hood, rocker panels and rear window, ensure that this Mustang is not easily forgotten.
The First Generation Boss 302 – (1969-1970 )
The original Mustang made a name for itself because of its many options and affordability. The Boss 302 is intended for a different purpose. Designed to be a limited edition model, the car is very different from ‘regular’ Mustangs. As a result, the original Boss 302 is relatively rare with only 1638 models produced for model year 1969.
Also, The Boss 302 is only offered as a SportsRoof Fastback. The customer can choose from only four exterior color options -Acapulco Blue, Calypso Coral, Bright Yellow and Wimbledon White. Interior colors are limited to black or white with most customers choosing black. The 302 is only offered with 4-speed top loader manual transmission. Those wanting the automatic option will have to look elsewhere. This is a race car after all.
Under the hood, things get exciting. The Boss 302, engineered to compete in the Trans-Am races, has to be agile and easily manoeuvrable while racing at breakneck speed. Mat Donner is given the task of ensuring that the Boss 302 handles superbly. To this end, the 1969 Boss 302 is outfitted with a ‘competition suspension package” This package includes but is not limited to a heavy-duty spindle, a more robust sway bar, front disc brakes, and of course, the special Cleveland heads fitted to the Windsor 351 block engine. All of these details made the 302 an instant classic.
Of course, it would be another year, 1970 to be exact before the Boss 302 can capture the Trans-Am race title from the Z28. Nevertheless, Ford built a car to be proud of , ain icon for the ages.
SellAClassicCar.Com is located in sunny California in the city of angels. We love all things classic cars and we write about cars of interest, their history, car auctions and other industry events.
We also accept consignments. Visit our consignment page if you’re interested in consigning your 1969 Boss 302 or another classic car.