When Mustang debuted in 1964, there was no car like it on the market, and more than 1 million customers picked one up. The car’s success did not go unnoticed, and in 1967 a rivalry was born with the creation of the Chevrolet Camaro by General Motors. The introduction of the Camaro meant competition for Ford in the “pony car” field.
The Need for Better Performance
The performance of the Mustang with 289 and 390 engines was not up to the capabilities of the rival Camaro. Ford became inspired by the Mustangs that won the 1966 and 1967 Trans-Am Championships, and created the best Mustang of its time, known as the 1969 Boss 302.
This Mustang featured a unique design that was created by designer Larry Shinoda. The muscle car also showcased a high-output, 302 cubic inch V8; making the Boss 302 one of the most legendary Mustangs ever. Interestingly enough, Shinoda was a former General Motors employee.
A Special Design
In the design studio, Shinoda created a unique and distinctive look for this Mustang. The air scoops that were found on the top of the rear fenders of other 1969 Mustangs were removed. Shinoda decided to add C-shaped stripes with the name “Boss 302” to the front fenders. He painted the hood and trunklid black, and added a functional spoiler to reduce lift below the front bumper. Finally, he also added a spoiler on the rear-deck. Optional features included black horizontal window shades and a blackout hood.
Naming the Mustang
The name “Boss” came about after Shinoda was asked what he was working on, which he answered, “the boss’s car,” seeing as the project was supposed to be a secret. The naming of the vehicle is also said to have been homage to the then-new President of Ford Semon “Bunkie” Knudson, who added Shinoda to the Ford team.
Back in June 1969, the Boss 302 received some great praise from Car and Driver editors, who stated that it may be the best handling Ford to ever be manufactured in Dearborn, and it may have set a new standard for all of the cars coming out of Detroit in the future. The car could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds and its quarter mile took 14.6 seconds at 98 mph. The car could also generate an estimated 450 horsepower with dual four-barrel carburetors.
For two years, the Boss 302 returned Ford to the forefront of pony car performance and styling, which was very important because of the new found competition of the Chevrolet Camaro. The Boss 302 just missed out in competing in the 1969 Trans-Am championship, but returned the previously found Mustang glory in 1970 with a victory.
Author: Scott Huntington