From the June 1969 Challenge of Automotive and Driver.
The check questions have all been requested and it is time for the Ford Motor Firm handy in its paper. Passing or failing can 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 midst of what may go for one in all 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 accountable for Mustang/Cougar experience and dealing with, waits, anxious to have the Cobra Jet Mach 1 blot faraway from the document or no less than outmoded 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 would 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 are going to decide the primary spherical from the passenger aspect. 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 good 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 style.
Our flip. Straightforward 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 avenue automobile sporting Ford emblems. Sooner and sooner, however its composure by no means slips. Modify the road with the steering wheel or with the throttle or each. Dangle the tail means out with a fast flick of the wheel and a legful of gasoline. Do no matter you want and the automobile 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 automobile understeers, however not a lot—it has simply precisely the best stability to assist you to drive as a substitute of plow by means of a flip. The steering responds to corrections proper up till you hen out, and the automobile’s angle in a flip is very delicate to energy. This isn’t to say that you just spin out in case you dip too deeply into the gasoline, however quite that you would be able to 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 automobile’s skill. Definitely the Boss 302 is the most effective dealing with Ford ever to return out of Dearborn and could be the brand new customary by which the whole lot from Detroit should be judged.
Whereas we’re all reeling from this surprising improvement maybe we must always retrace our steps again to the start and study Ford’s motives for such an development. You see, there may be this factor referred to as the youth market which seems to have an insatiable urge for food for wildly trimmed efficiency automobiles and might summon up the money, or no less than the month-to-month funds, to indulge itself. Chevrolet has all the time been significantly delicate to those youthful calls for.
When Ford found that Chevy offered 7,000 Z/28 Camaros in 1968, and the advertising and marketing demographers predicted that as much as 20,000 is perhaps offered in 1969, there was no selection however hoist the bugle and blow the cost. Not solely was Chevrolet promoting automobiles to prospects who might need purchased an equal Mustang if it was out there, however Chevy was additionally reaching a improbable popularity each time the David-like Z/28 dusted off anyone’s, and perhaps one in all Ford’s, Goliaths. It is not that Chevrolet had created a very conspicuous car, however the Z/28’s mixture of endearing mechanical presence and glowing efficiency had made it the automobile 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 seem on no less than 1000 avenue automobiles. That signifies that spoilers or aerodynamic improvements of any kind, and excessive carry outance engine components like blocks and cylinder heads, must be no less than restricted professionalduction objects. Constructing only a handful of components like final 12 months’s 302 tunnel-ports is certainly verboten. So, since Ford has to construct no less than 1000 of those pseudo-racers if it needs to play within the Trans-Am, it’d simply as properly make them seen and try to chock the wheels of the quick promoting Z/28.
These are the explanations, however in Detroit’s battle of mannequin proliferation to compete with, and get forward of, everyone else’s mannequin proliferation, Ford has handled itself to a wholesome escalation. The Boss 302 is a bell of an fanatic’s automobile. It is what the Shelby GT 350s and 500s ought to have been however weren’t. Ford stylists have carried out 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 identical time.
Matte black paint utilized to the hood, rear deck and across the headlights is a regular a part of the package deal, as is the tape “C” stripe with the Boss 302 insert on the aspect of the physique. Because the shovel-shaped spoiler below the entrance bumper works, no less than on the race monitor, it’s customary equipment, too, as a result of Ford needs to ensure 1000 of them are offered 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 stated, “The purist automobile individuals count on scoops to scoop one thing, and since that one did not it needed to go.” The actual visible sauce—the venetian blind “sport slats” on the again window and the adjustable wing on the rear deck-is elective. The slats are literally a one-piece association, hinged on the prime 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 avenue 429 and Chevrolet’s 396-427. Tunnel-ports are out however massive 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 dimension. The brand new heads are meant for racing in addition to avenue 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 essential 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 (identical because the Z/28) @ 5800 rpm, and nobody will dispute that it makes no less than that a lot. Commonplace with the engine is a large ratio (2.78 first gear) transmission and a 3.50 axle, which strikes us as a perfect compromise for each low pace acceleration and cozy expressway cruising.
New engine however, it is the Boss 302’s dealing with that makes the automobile 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 extensive wheels. The tires are so extensive 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 skin of the automobile which, in flip, required new entrance spindles with bigger wheel bearings. Fats tires have to actually 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 belowsteering behavior is not any simpler than giving up the weed or peyote nuts and Ford is to be counseled 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 cut back understeer. Shock absorbers and the suspension geometry is carried over with no modifications.
Whether or not you order handbook or energy steering, the gear ratio is similar, at 16-to-one. The check automobile, with its handbook steering, by no means could possibly be accused of a Jack of highway really feel once we had been flailing. Sadly, on this crowded world, you’ll be able to’t flail a lot and nonetheless hold an excellent grip in your driver’s license, and energy steering is much better suited to routine site visitors conditions. We have pushed far worse handbook steering automobiles however parking the Boss 302 remains 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 actual fact, it had been in Ford’s wind tunnel to examine the impact of the rear spoiler simply earlier than our session on the check monitor. Usually we keep away from doing a full highway check on a prototype as a result of it won’t be typical of a manufacturing automobile, 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 check had been to be performed, 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 equipped by Ford’s engineering division—undoubtedly not our regular process however higher than nothing. We do have some very distinct driving impressions aside from these on the dealing with course nonetheless, which must be handed alongside. Experience high quality is towards the stiff aspect, significantly within the rear which crashes with vengeance over massive irregularities within the highway. Nonetheless, contemplating the dealing with, it is a good commerce out.
While you converse of engines on this class of automobile the Z/28, with its nervous and jerky deportment and ultra-quick response within the 12-cylinder, dohc, Italian style, is the usual of comparability. The Boss 302 has a temperament utterly 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 residence in a Falcon and nobody could be the wiser, no less than till the Holley’s secondaries snapped open. Ford claims that its new little motor truly makes extra energy than the Z/28 however, subjectively, the automobile would not really feel fairly as quick. Actually it would not have the marginally tamed racing automobile character which has gained the Z/28 throngs of associates. Ford engineers even volunteered that the Boss will be readily launched in second gear they usually’re proper—for whatever that is price in your racer reproduction.
Roaring round Ford’s check monitor and splashing by means of Detroit from suburb to suburb has made believers out of us. If the manufacturing automobiles are wherever close to pretty much as good because the prototype, the Boss 302 is definitely the most effective Mustang but, and that features all the Shelbys and Mach ls. After receiving no recognition aside from gold stars for attendance in our highway assessments for the final a number of years Ford has realized its classes properly. The Boss 302 Mustang earned itself an A for this semester.
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