By on February 23, 2011

Ford’s Jim Farley is well-known among autojournos for off-the-cuff remarks, but as he stands in a Laguna Seca garage, facing approximately twenty members of the Press As A Whole, he manages to deliver a real bunker-buster, one which speaks directly to this humble writer’s heart.

“This car… it isn’t meant to be stored in a garage somewhere. It should be on YouTube… maybe doing something illegal.” Oh, yes. Let’s immediately go out and do that. It isn’t until I’ve reached the top of a Monterey canyon, my ears and eyeballs vibrating from the past few minutes’ violent, screeching, Pikes-Peak-style run, that I come to my senses and delete the footage from my Android camera. We’ll let someone else lose their press-trip privileges following the big man’s advice.

That turns out to be a smart move, because an hour later I’m sitting at the pitlane entrance with a broken, smoking BMW M3, a dashboard full of warning lights, a squawking handheld radio, and a feeling that I will need to use all my accumulated goodwill in this industry, whatever miniscule amount that may be, just to survive the afternoon.

Nearly a year ago, I drove the five-liter Mustang GT at Summit Point Raceway and proclaimed it to be far, far better than the competing big-inch ponycars. A better foil for the high-horsepower GT’s abilities, I suggested, would be the Corvette C5 Z06. That may be true, but the Mustang team at Ford didn’t have much interest in drawing direct comparisons with used cars.

Instead, when the idea for a new “Boss 302” was floated around Ford’s corridors, it was decided to tilt at one famous modern windmill: the V-8-powered BMW M3. I know the M3 pretty well, having found myself a few tenths of a second behind one at Monticello during the CTS-V Challenge. It’s a solid all-around performer, capable of whipping the lower half of Porsche’s lineup around most racetracks. Only the dismal, depressingly low-spec brakes keep it from being perhaps the most well-rounded four-seat performance car… in the world, as they say.

What would it take for a Mustang to beat an M3 around Laguna Seca? The easy way to do it would be to chip-tune the car to within an inch of its life, fit bigger tires, drop the gearing, and add a couple of caveats to the claim like “Specially prepared vehicle used for testing”. Think of those Nurburgring videos where mystery-boost GT-Rs and fully-caged Corvettes go wild in the hands of generic-label race drivers.

That’s what they could have done. What they did was the following: There are two completely revised aero packages, one for the “plain” Boss and one for the “Laguna Seca” model, about which more in a bit. The engine has a — wait for it — completely unique set of heads with extra polishing, bigger exhaust valves, a new exhaust cam, special bearings, a redesigned crank, and new valvetrain components. The nominal improvement is modest — up to 444 horsepower from 412 — but on the road it feels more Daytona Prototype (or, to be accurate, ContiChallenge GS) than street car.

The “Brembo package” is standard in this car, with new pads by Performance Friction and improved brake lines. The suspension now has five-position manual dampers and revised spring settings. The payback: this car has the kind of precision damping you’d expect from “Koni Yellows”. There are side-mount exhausts to make it louder, a bigger swaybar to make it rotate, and special 19-inch wheels with 285mm P-Zeros at the back. Serious hardware.

On the back roads around Laguna Seca, I quickly discover that the 302’s monstrous pace is far too much for the brakes. This is a car which can be regularly catapulted on short straightaways to speeds that are multiples of the ol’ 55 limit. Imagine braking from 110 or 120 to 50 or 60, over and over again, and you will start to understand why I’d want a set of Baer eight-piston stoppers on my Boss. As has been the case for the last few years, the infamous live axle is almost imperceptible to the driver, although if your commute takes you through downtown Boston that won’t be the case. On smooth roads, however, the Boss combines the composure of an old BMW E46 and the wailing buzzsaw thrust of a 289 Cobra.

It’s with a sense of relief that my co-driver (and racing coach) Brian Makse and I arrive at the controlled environment of Laguna Seca. We’d been the first car on the road and one of the last to return, and I’m hearing stories of furious cops who dismissed any hope of catching our orange Boss and instead lay in wait for those behind us. Now it’s time to put on our big-boy hats and drive for real.

Ford claims that the standard Boss 302 is about a second faster than an M3 around Laguna Seca, with the special-edition car being faster still. To prove the point, they’ve brought a white M3 to the party. With a low option load and the carbon-fiber roof, this particular M3 looks the business. Naturally I’m the first one to drive it. I haven’t been to Laguna Seca since I faced Brian in the Skip Barber Media Challenge, and I’m anxious to come back up to speed.

My “out lap” is uneventful, and I’m conscious of being the only car on-track as I pass the corner stations on my single flying lap. The M3 is a trustworthy friend out here, with a near-perfect driving position, great visibility, and controls that almost operate themselves. The timer fitted to the car records my lap as 1:50.1, which is pretty far away from the 1:45 turned in by Ford’s Rolex GT crew, but hey: I haven’t been here for a year and I don’t want to wreck the car.

As I enter the pitlane, however, the BMW goes insane, flashing the dashboard and abruptly braking me to a shrieking, clattering halt without my intervention. I radio for help and the car ends up needing to be restarted a few times before deciding to let go of the brakes. This is, frankly, terrifying. What if the brakes had “grabbed” while I was negotiating the infamous Turn Nine? Worse yet, the journos are gabbing that I “broke the BMW”. I prefer to think of it as ensuring that my drive impressions were unique, since the BMW promptly goes in paddock garage and never reappears.

Time to try the “Laguna Seca” edition 302. This costs $47,150 against the standard car’s $40,140. You get a shocking aero package with a street-illegal splitter, bigger wheels, Lamborgini-OEM R-comp tires, a Torsen diff, brake scoops, and an underbody transmission cooling scoop that is certain to be shorn off by a racetrack curb somewhere. The back seat is gone, replaced by a contrast-color X-brace. This car is almost obscene-looking in its aggression. I love it.

Love at first sight, maybe, but the Mustang will never “fit” like the BMW. Where the Bimmer inspires confidence in its driver positioning, the Mustang makes me feel like there’s no perfect way to adjust the seat. The dashboard is tall and the cockpit is dark. The controls are bulky and awkward. Oh well. Time to head out. I notice that the stability control system on this car is off by default.

Just four turns later, I’ve decided to buy My First Mustang. This is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the most neutral-handling street car I’ve ever driven on a track. Understeer is nonexistent and the tail can be rotated at will once you reach the approximate limit of the tires. It would be easy to “stunt drive” this car sideways around Seca — and Brian, in our drive together, does just that — but I’m already on probation so I concentrate on extracting some time without abusing the machine.

Here, as on the street, the revamped five-liter impresses, pulling in strong and linear fashion all the way across the tach. Only the heavy flywheel destroys the impression that one is driving a racing-prepped Mustang. Not that the last racing Mustang I drove, a ’95 Cobra running in NASA CMC, would be able to touch this car. It’s seriously quick and I have no trouble seeing how it’s a few seconds faster than an M3, perhaps very close to a C6 Z06. The unibody feels like it’s a solid casting and I have no concerns about using a little bit of left-foot braking to tighten my line through Nine.

This Laguna Seca Edition is a revelation, a joy, a wonder, but the standard Boss is garbage. Just kidding. If anything, the “regular” car is more fun to drive, a little looser and nimbler on its smaller rear wheels, different tire compound, and sensible spoilers. I guesstimate Brian at 1:45.5, counting seconds on my imprecise IWC Spitfire UTC, and I turn a less dramatic but probably not much slower lap myself a few minutes later. We’re only two seconds or so away from the pros, and those last few ticks would certainly arrive if we had more than six laps at Laguna Seca to learn the car. It’s just plain fun to drive.

If only it stopped. Brian’s hot lap takes all the brakes out of the car for mine, and I’m momentarily concerned as I crest the long straight before Seca’s “Corkscrew”. I understand why Ford can’t fit a $5000 brake system to a $40,000 car, but I’d recommend that Boss owners in the real world think about addressing it. Yeah, you can “manage” the brakes, as Ford’s tame drivers do in their media-ride hot laps, but I don’t have to manage brakes in my Porsches and I don’t want to do it in this car, either. That sounds too much like work.

You’ll need to do some work of your own to find a Boss 302. Fewer than four thousand will be available. Do the math and it’s easy to see that some dealers won’t get one to sell. The Laguna Seca edition will represent a small percentage of those. Instant factory collectible. Boo hiss! Talk to your dealer now, rather than later.

At dinner later that evening, a fellow journalist whom I deeply respect expresses his complete lack of enthusiasm for the car. “It’s fast on the track, but it’s a 3600-pound Mustang that costs a lot of money.” I understand his concern. There’s nothing socially relevant about this car. There’s nothing particularly shocking about the idea of another fast ponycar. It doesn’t do anything for the economy, the industry, or the climate. That doesn’t mean I don’t want one, and if you have the chance to drive the Boss, you are likely to want one, too — even if your current car is an M3.

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89 Comments on “Review: 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 and Boss 302 “Laguna Seca”...”


  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Almost $50K for a Mustang that’s not the GT500…what a complete rip off.
     
    And whoever was ‘tripping on acid’ and approved the paint scheme should be fired and launched to the moon.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Now Silvy, how much will the ZL1 Camaro cost? You hate Ford, we all know it so just shut up until you have something to contribute, you’re tiresome.

      I hope to have one of these in a year or so but I do want to see the Camaro and Challenger with similar special editions, all three would be great cars.

    • 0 avatar

      “… Ford … sucks … derp …”
       
      There. Every single SimpleSilvy post, ever.
       
      As for the idea of a $47,000 Mustang, yeah, it’s not for everyone (not for me) but I love that Ford offers such a bad-ass pony car. The fact it doesn’t tip the scales at over two tons, unlike the Camaro and Challenger, is an added treat.
       

    • 0 avatar
      That guy

      It’s too bad the best your beloved GM can do is a 3900lb understeering pig.

    • 0 avatar
      itsgotvtakyo

      Hahhaha, this guy is such a clown. I really hope you don’t consider yourself an “enthusiast”, Z71, because if you don’t love this car just because you have an irrational affinity to a nameless, faceless corporation then you most certainly are not. Why did you mention the GT500? It sounds like this car is better and completely different in so many ways. I think offering precise, tamed track beast that can run circles around their brutish (by comparison) road going car is a brilliant idea.

    • 0 avatar
      thestigsamericancousin

      You do realize that the ZL1 Camaro will be around $50K to, right?
      And you also have to admit- at least its a real special edition car, not some half-assed paint and sticker job like the Camaro Transformers Edition.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      It’s too bad the best your beloved GM…
       
      Why “my beloved GM”?  I never said anything that would make you jump to such an irrational conclusion.  In fact, the first three vehicles I would look at to replace my current one are made by Chrysler…so your “beloved GM” comment is completely false.
       
      You do realize that the ZL1 Camaro will be around $50K to, right?
       
      Yeah………and?  ZL1 does NOT equal BOSS.  They are two completely different cars.  The GT500 pig will compete with the ZL1.

    • 0 avatar

      Considering that the Boss 302 is quicker than a 2010 GT500 to 60mph, I think you have it backwards. This is the car the the GT500 should have always been before they finally got it right here. It performs better in every category than a GT500 prior to 2011.

      It is the early GT500 owners that got ripped off!!!!

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    Nice review that told me exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks! Now all they need to do is make one that doesn’t attract as much attention. An orange car, or one with red accents just doesn’t do it for me. Reminds me of the old Superbird. Maybe lime green? Naaah….JK!

  • avatar
    ajla

    This is just the Cobra R or GT500KR/Super Snake all over again.
     
    An excellent track car with extremely limited production.  Dealer markup will be brutal, and most of these cars will just spend their lives sitting in a plastic bubble inside some rich guy’s mansion.
     
    I’m surprised they didn’t call it the “Ford Mustang BOSS Shelby GT302 Mach 1-R” for maximum appeal.
     

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      When Chevy comes out with a new special edition every 6 months, Ford will counter with such a model.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There is already a new special edition Mustang released nearly every six months.
       
      I think in this case it is Chevy trying to keep pace with Ford.
       

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      I’m honestly not sure what is wrong with it…if they didn’t sell then that is one thing, but they do. Is giving the consumer what they desire, and marketing to take advantage of such desires a bad thing now?

      If Ford or GM, or whomever else, didn’t do this on what are normally niche vehicles then those product lines would disappear for a lack of desireability. They didn’t have very many special editions in the 90s and the Mustang just about disappeared, while the F-Body did. Back in the 60s and 70s, every car had a special edition come out. Kept it interesting and gave you an option to have something slightly more unique…even if it was a bit gaudy.

      More power to the people who sell them, and the people who buy them. Granted, I’m not in either category.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There’s nothing “wrong” with it, but FWIW, not all of these special editions sell out either.
       
      I just find it annoying when these car companies introduce some super limited production performance car, the internet goes nuts declaring it the best ever shouting the MSRP when there is not a chance you’re getting one near sticker.
       
      What good does limiting production do here? It just gives extra money to the dealers. It’s not like the 5.0 Mustang needs any more hype.  If Farley wants to see YouTube videos of these things, maybe he shouldn’t make it a museum piece right out of the gate.
       
      I would prefer if Ford offered a not limited production “Super Track Pack” that allowed one to get BOSS302 performance in a normal GT. Then they can sell the limited production,  eye-searing BOSS 302 @ $40K to whoever wants to be flashy. It would be similar to what Dodge did between the Charger Daytona and the Charger R/T with “Road and Track” package.
      ______________________

      Maybe I should have just skipped this review.

    • 0 avatar
      That guy

      Don’t blame Ford, they built a hack of a car here.  Blame the people that will buy it and park it.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Ajla,

      If the regular Mustang GT is not competitive enough for you at the track then you’d also be disappointed with the M3. Just add some KONIs and an exhaust and you’re golden. If $33,000 sounds like alot of cash, go see how much performance you can get for that at the BMW dealer. You can’t even get a limited-slip without an M3 to go along with it. Or try the Dodge dealer. Or anywhere!

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Ajla –
       
      I could see a lot of what goes into the Boss 302 making its way into a more general production Mustang in the future.  The regular 2010 Mustang GT received a lot of the Bullitt upgrades, and the 2010 GT500 received a good bit of what made the 2008/2009 GT500KR special, and for a lower price.
       
      These super special editions do throw a bit of a bone to the collectors, who are a rabid part of the fanbase, so nothing wrong there, as well as the dealers (who have had to cut profits year over year due to the ubiquity of shopping tools on the internet as well as Ford reducing incentives and cutting margins between dealer cost and MSRP) who also deserve a bit of goodwill.  Yes, it’s likely you won’t find one of these for sticker price anywhere, but if you wait another year or so, the tech will trickle down into something more mainstream.

    • 0 avatar
      dean_acheson

      If you are willing to look, you can find these cars at MSRP, and at a two year production run of 7K, it should not be hard to find one. That’s roughly the number that was produced in 69 and 70 for the Gen 1 B2 cars.

      I think you are wrongheaded with your last comment. The Boss, the Shelbys, and the Mach 1s, were all different kinds of cars, designed to do different things for different people, just like the Mustang was originally deisgned to be, a sporty car that you could option out to fit what you wanted in a two door, long hood, short deck rig.

    • 0 avatar
      skitter

      Perhaps a “Limited Edition” is the only way to guarantee selling an expensive upgrade to an attainable car?

    • 0 avatar

      ajla,
      It seems to me that if Ford wanted to whore out the Boss 302 name, they could have brought back the brand earlier. By just about every account, they wanted to make this car stand up to the standards of the original Boss 302 raced in Trans Am in 1970.
      As for Fords vs Chevys, I have no dog in that hunt, but one of the things that I was thinking about at the Camaro ZL1 intro was that Ford has done a good job with extensions of the Mustang brand: GT, GT500, Shelby variants (my guess is that Ford is not too comfortable with the way Shelby whores out his own name, so they are careful to make sure that the Shelby branded Mustangs actually get processed in a Shellby facility). Chevy brought back the obscure ZL1 brand to give them space for the eventual Z28 Camaro at a lower price point than the ZL1. Just as the new Boss 302 was developed to have credibility on the track, I’ve heard that the new Z28 will likewise hearken back to the original Z28, also developed to race in Trans Am.
      I just wish that we’d be developing America’s own energy resources instead of relying (to the extent that we do) on unstable regions and despots of the world for oil.
      If the US was drilling and developing our own petroleum and natural gas resources, the world energy market would be less roiled by events like those that are happening in Libya and Bahrain.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      @Ronnie Schreiber :
      only the ’07 Shelby GT and ’08/09 GT500KR were pre-title vehicles with Shelby as the only manufacturer of record, shipped to customers from SAI in Las Vegas.  they were based on units shipped from AAI to SAI and upfit/modified for sale.  warranty for those vehicles is handled via a special process between Ford/Shelby, but Shelby is the manufacturer of record.

      the various other Shelby vehicles are post-title modifications to stock vehicles, either as customer-supplied unts (Super Snake upgrades to GT500) or built from lower spec units into something sold as a Shelby (current GT350).

      all normal GT500 units ship directly from AAI Flat Rock and are engineered by Ford SVT, not Shelby.

       
      the turn-key Mustang race cars from Ford Racing (Multimatic does the actual assembly of them) have been very successful in Grand Am GS over the years, I suspect that GM would like some of that money and marketing, so will push for their eventual Z28 to be available in a similar way.  the current Camaros being raced in Grand Am GS are less factory-engineered than the Mustangs I believe.  the Rolex GT cars are re-bodied “Pontiac G6″ tube-frame cars from several years back and as such have nothing to do with production other than their shape.  this may be subject to change based on whatever NASCAR does with moving towards more production-based sheet metal, if they ever do…

  • avatar
    h82w8

    Timely review, since I’ve been attempting to get Boss 302 price quotes this week from area dealers.
     
    Predictably, some dealers are tacking on substantial markups — one dealer I checked with quoted a price $10K above MSRP. This same dealer, which happens to be in the top 3 in US Ford sales, said they had been allocated 4 Bosses, had already taken orders for three and had one remaining allocation to sell. A few other dealers said they expected to have one, maybe two Boss 302 allocations to sell, and one said they didn’t think they’d have any. All of them said forget finding a “Laguna Seca” version…apparently they’ve already all been spoken for.
     
    So, with Ford only producing around 3-4K Boss 302s, it appears that if you want one of these new you’ll have to move fast and be prepared to swallow the obnoxious “market adjustment” above MSRP.
     

  • avatar

    I see that GT-R hurt. I probably should find the video where Zonta compares GT-R to his own 911.

  • avatar
    twotone

    It sounds like a great car to rent at the track for an afternoon, but not one I’d pay $47k to drive around town.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    I don’t know what an “IWC Spitfire UTC” is, but I sure like the sound of it.
     
    Whither skirt?

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    $47k for an ugly Mustang?
     

  • avatar
    rudiger

    If one were in the market for a track-ready Ford that costs nearly six figures, seems like it wouldn’t be too diffcult to locate a halfway decent, used Ford GT in that price range.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      AFAIK, you would be wrong.  Ford GTs have retained their value very well.  I don’t think you can find a non-salvage title GT for anything under $100k.  unmolested (or tastefully molested, man that sounds wrong) cars are in the $120-$135k range I believe.

    • 0 avatar
      itsgotvtakyo

      And in what world will either of these cars cost anywhere near six figures?

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      I glossed over and misread the line about the price of the Laguna Seca version. At first glance, it appeared it would cost $47k above the $40k of the regular Boss.

    • 0 avatar
      Lumbergh21

      The MSRP for the Ford GT was $100k.  I only saw two dealerships that had them for sale, but one didn’t even put a price on theirs – sort of a “if you need to ask, you can’t afford it” approach – and the other was asking $200k for each of the GTs that they had.  Now that is dealer mark-up.  Saw the same thing, though on a smaller scale with the Chevy SSR in its first year.  $40k MSRP with a $40k dealer mark-up.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      @Lumbergh21
      no, Ford GT MSRP was $140k initially, then raised to $150k.  the car was a massive bargain compared to Ferrari/Lambo (360/430/Gallardo) which it was faster than, to say nothing of the other supercars farther up the food chain.  even at a marked-up $200k, the car was (if there can be such a thing) a good deal.

      markups may have been extreme, but if there are buyers for them, they are one way of doing business. they did fade out as production wrapped up and the market was somewhat satiated. one of the nice side effects of this was the availability of un-registered GTs available as recently as 2-3 years ago, 3 years after the end of production. those cars sold at/above MSRP and were probably worth well more than the carrying cost to the dealers based on the foot traffic which they surely provided.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_GT#Production_and_sales
       

  • avatar
    DearS

    I love the sound of the work done to the car. Big difference between sporty and near racing imo.

  • avatar
    jfranci3

    Am I to believe that the cars brake pads are unchangeable? Maybe repeated hot laps on the street pads aren’t such a great idea. You can get away with some pretty crappy brakes with the right pads. I tracked my 2000 Mustang on stock brakes with Carbotech xp-series pads for years and never had any complaints.

    Ugly car, does all that work/makes all those sacrifices to KEEP UP WITH AN M3. Buy a used M3

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Well, what about that BMW.  That could have killed you and you would have been blamed for it…

  • avatar
    obbop

    Excellent write-up and informative comments but the question remaining within my headlet is….
     
    My Silverado can haul multiple sheets of 4×8 plywood within its abode-capable bed. How many can the Mustang convey.
    Wandering off cackling, gloating over my conveyances’ superior ability.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Nah, I’ll just take a GT model, thanks.  (Although if I had the money…)  Nah, I’ll buy a GT someday and revell in the fact that my lady’s only qualification for me purchasing some hairy-chested sports car is that she be allowed to drive it every once in a while.  And if you’ve ever driven with her, you’d let her. 

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I am guessing that the regular Boss will end up around $50k thanks to the dealer markup, and the Laguna Seca version will essentially be unobtanium, in Florida at least, the dealers will attempt to get $75k+ for them from Ford fanatics who really think a modern Mustang will someday be worth the kind of money original Shelbys get now.

    This brings up a question:  I have seen GT500s for less than that.  Is the Boss a better performer than the GT500?  2010 GT500 or 2011 GT500?

    Not like it really matters, I would just get the standard GT, maybe mod it accordingly as money becomes available.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Ford’s not anxious to compare the Boss and the Shelby from an on-track perspective. The Laguna Seca wheel package is basically the SVT-pack wheel from the Shelby.

      My impression is that the two cars would get very similar lap times at most American tracks. The Boss definitely outhandles it by some margin but the Shelby can claw that back on the long straights.

      You’ll have more fun in a Boss, that’s for sure.

      The big question: Is it easier to apply the Boss chassis upgrades to a Shelby than it is to supercharge a Boss?

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Or chassis and brake upgrades to a standard GT??  Guess the heads would be nice too, maybe some good seats…

      What sucks is, for $10k over the MSRP of a base GT, you definitely get your moneys worth on the Boss.  IF you can get one for sticker, which you can’t, because Ford limits production so the speculators go crazy, which ruins it for everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      dean_acheson

      Let’s be clear, these car can be found for MSRP, if you are willing to call around. Around 7k total production for a two year run. That’s enough to find one at sticker. Mine is ordered at that price.

      It’s a different rig than the GT-500 and priced to be somewhere between a GT and the 500, and the cars are designed to fill different niches. The B2 is designed to be like the original B2 car, which was, in turn, designed to homologate a high reving small block for the Trans-Am series. By that time (69) the Shelbys had turned into lux-o cruisers and less into the 65 GT-350 no holds barred track fighter. The new Boss 302 is designed after that original concept. A high revving N/A rig that goes around corners. The new Sheby is the same child as the 67-70 GT 500, a grand tourer that has big power and alot of options. On the B2, which is based on the base GT, there are only three options- 1) the yellow paint job, 2) the Recaro seat/Torsion rear end, 3) car cover / seat mats. That’s it, unlike the cool electronic do-dads you can get on the Shelby.

      I”ll take this car over the 500, just like I own my 70 B2 car instead of a Shelby.

      Great review TTAC, thanks for sharing!

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      tho not mentioned in the article, the optional (I think they’re part of the Laguna package, but I can’t keep things straight w/o looking up the order guide and can’t be bothered at the moment) Recaro seats are quite nice form the time I’ve spent in them.  not full race seats, but for a factory side airbag seat, they’re pretty good.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Ford Racing does offer a handling and power pack on the ’11 GT. I haven’t heard anything review-wise for the two packs yet, but it might bring the normal 5.0 car that much closer to the Boss.
       
      Plus, anyone can get them.

    • 0 avatar

      Jack, are the Boss chassis upgrades bolt ons to lesser Mustangs?

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @dean, I hope you are right about the price, I think I still have bitter memories of local Honda dealers charging $30k OVER sticker for S2000’s…

      I like your thinking, I would rather have a Boss than a Shelby anyway…

    • 0 avatar
      itsgotvtakyo

      I think those heads would certainly make more efficient power with a blower but I would be concerned with putting forced induction on a high(er) compression, high rpm race derived engine without thoroughly reworking some of the bottom end components and clearances. My experience is with Honda engines that get real fragile real fast with the incorrect application of boost so maybe I’m just suffering from a little PTSD. What, Jack, in your opinion, would another 100-150hp do to this car? Is there room for it in the chassis? Is it at all necessary? Sounds like an absolute hoot just the way it sits.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      As to whether the chassis can handle more power… it’s mechanically ready, and the unibody is stiff enough, but you will want to have your head up at all times. Really fast Mustangs tend to be a handful, street or track.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    With the standard 2011+ Mustang GT as good as it is in the low $30k range, why pay the extra $$$ for a special edition that doesn’t give that much additional performance?

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    @Sam P
     
    For that matter, there’s nothing wrong with the base V-6 car. 300hp, better balanced, and if you shop right it’s around $20k. Is the GT $10k (50%) better?

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      Yes.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Yes. How else can you get 400 plus horsepower with a factory warranty in a chassis that handles well for under $35k?

    • 0 avatar
      MarcKyle64

      I don’t like the V-6 Mustang.  Why?  It has 300 horsepower, yet has a speed limiter that activates at 112 or 108 mph.  You only need 100 horsepower to go 108 mph, my old ’68 Mustang hit 100 mph with an anemic 200 cid Straight Six rated at 120 gross hp.  Yes, there’s plenty of torque, but there’s no top end and thus no point, except to be embarrassed by a Camaro or Challenger at the next stoplight.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @MarcKyle, if you are going 108mph from stoplight to stoplight, you have issues man.

      The speed is limited so they can put cheap tires on the cheaper car.  300hp is pretty damn good, even these days, and even on a relatively heavy ponycar.  You can still do pretty well in the stoplight grand prix with a base Mustang stick, especially if you change out the final drive.
      Who cares what the top speed is anyway?  I havent ever driven my car over 100mph in almost 2 yrs that I have owned it.  Unless you track it, and even then, only on some of the longer tracks, you dont use top speed.  Top speed is NOT the same as top end.

  • avatar
    william442

    Next time,may I drive?
    What is going on with brakes these days? With all the advances they should be perfect.
    Keep this up, and I will have to look at a Mustang; something I have not considered.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      What is going on with brakes these days?
       
      Marketing. If you make something insanely great, the only way to offer a product line is to then intentionally make other things that are worse and sell them at slightly lower prices. See: Porsche.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s happening is that nobody’s brakes work really well on the track, except for maybe the Enzo. Like Jack said, spend another $5K on the braking system and you’ll have something track ready. I suppose you could argue that when Ford is promoting a car as a street legal track car it should have superb brakes but the fact is that even those Boss customers who go to the track will do almost all their driving with that car on the street.
      Jack, do you think the Boss braking package is adequate for what you’d experience on public roads?

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      @Ronnie Schreiber :
      with the power which is available and the weight which most cars end up with, stock brakes are usually not sufficient for track work.  at least not with a good driver.  having said that, I don’t recall hearing any complaints about Corvette brakes, nor as Jack notes, most Porsches.  exotics are going to be fine as well.  and probably some cars you’d not thing – I bet that you could (if co inclined) beat the hell out of a Bentley on the track and be fine with the brakes – likely because they are sized to deal with 200mph speed and repeated autobahn stops.  BMW continues to cheap out and go with sliding calipers on even M cars, which tend to not survive on track that well.
       
      as others have mentioned, pad material is a huge factor as well – no manufacturer is going to put pure track pads onto a street car.  I suspect the Boss is an optimized for track use as the internal Ford rules will allow them to be, which is still not enough to stand up to repeated full-on use.  I guess they could have Ferrari’ed the test cars with Hawk Blues or something, but I don’t think Ford wants to play that way.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    “It should be on YouTube…”
    I love how ambiguous those words are together, and yet how we all know exactly what that means.

  • avatar
    SVT48

    I would expect thet the improved heads will eventually find there way on to the GT 5.0 engine.  If you remember the Contour Duratec 2.5 L V6 with it’s “extrude-hone” intake bumped up hp to 200.  Now the Duratec V6 in the run-of-the-mill Escape is 240 hp.  Not quite Moores Law but similar.

    • 0 avatar
      That guy

      You won’t see these heads on the regular 5.0L any time soon.  They are removed from the line and CNC ported at a separate station.  However, I do believe that when the 5.0L gets direct injection (2014?), a direct injected version of the Boss 302 could come about as well.

  • avatar
    dlarsen

    So…So… review….actually kind of lame……..
    [quote] At dinner later that evening, a fellow journalist whom I deeply respect expresses his complete lack of enthusiasm for the car. “It’s fast on the track, but it’s a 3600-pound Mustang that costs a lot of money.” I understand his concern. There’s nothing socially relevant about this car. There’s nothing particularly shocking about the idea of another fast ponycar. It doesn’t do anything for the economy, the industry, or the climate.”[/quote]
    WTF now I’m supposed to feel guilty about buying this car?

    The Climate?

    So I’m supposed to run out and by an Electric Car or a Hybrid?

    What is he smoking?

    Where does the electricity come from the Tooth Fairy?

    It all comes from fossil fuels you dumb A$$!

  • avatar
    dswilly

    Love the car but not the color combination.  I wish they would have offered it in the classic grabber blue and orange with american racing style wheels so you could get a George Folmer look with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Some of the media materials showed a lime/metallic green Boss. There are six colors in some of the promotional stuff but only five made it to production. This is my sad face.

    • 0 avatar
      dean_acheson

      Next year it will be offered in the hockey stick. If you watch the special on Speed Channel, it shows the 2013 mock-ups. It’s pretty clear that Ford is copying the 69 – 70 sticker and color schemes.

      http://forums.themustangsource.com/attachments/f813/81386d1290491829-boss-302-speed-channel-coming-monday-night-10-00-p-m-2010-11-22_23-50-50_216_resize.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      That guy

      Jack, I was under the impression that different colors and stripes would be available for the 2013 model year.  I was also under the impression that there would be better availability as well.  Any comment?

    • 0 avatar

      They made one of one in Grabber Blue and sold it for charity at Barrett-Jackson. At least for this model year, that’s the only blue Boss 302 they’ll be making.
      My guess is that they ran a few non-Boss bodies through the paint shop first to get it right.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    First of all, why all the special edition hate?

    Porsche is allowed to tap their racing heritage all day long and produce limited edition, race inspired cars and no one gets upset. But Ford, also with a long and rich racing heritage (with much of it in Mustangs), comes out with a track-prepped, street-legal, limited-edition car and everyone gripes that it’s ugly, impractical, and expensive.

    Well…duh!

    Questions for Jack…

    What was the diagnosis on the M3? Did you indeed break it, or did it fail of its own accord?

    Is the Spitfire the double chronograph? And you still found it imprecise?

    My main complaint after seat time in the last couple iterations of the Mustang GT is also the driver/seating position. After a 911, the Ford feels like driving a boat while sitting on the floor. Door sills up to your chin and the cowl even with your nose…no feel for the front or corners of the car. You’re saying, in effect, this is still a problem, but somehow this car is good enough to make you forgive the crap visibility and funky driving ergonomics?

    Did Farley drive it? And if so, how’d he do?

    Great review. Interesting car. I’m glad they made it, and congratulations in advance for anyone with the stones and means to buy one.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    If I had the means to buy a new GT500, I’d still take the Laguna Seca.  That car checks all the right boxes for me.

  • avatar
    itsgotvtakyo

    I think you guys are overstating the fear of dealer markup. A buddy of mine had a KR on the floor for over a year that he had to end up selling below sticker. I’m not saying there won’t be a big (relative) initial push but I don’t believe there are enough real buyers for a circa 50k track star to command a ridiculous market adjustment price.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      the KR was a peculiar situation in that it was late to market and the 2010 GT500 offered similar power and performance for a lot less.  additionally, there were far fewer (~1000/model year) KRs, so dealers got greedy up front, then the economy collapsed and the cars sat, eventually being sold below sticker.  the KR exhaust is still a thing of complete wonder tho, just makes one want to act the complete fool at every opportunity.
       
      the Boss doesn’t have the Shelby pedigree to hype up demand from that segment of the buying population, but I suspect the lower MSRP will mean they all sell at or above sticker.  other than the engine upgrades, I suspect that one could put together the chassis setup for not an absurd amount of money by buying the parts from the dealer directly.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    This is going to sound nuts, but I have found myself cross shopping used NSX (97+ 3.2 w/6 speed) against the Mustang GT….

    If you have a $30,000 budget, what is the best all around car for an enthusiast? An enthusiast who will pile on significant miles driving the car and wont put up with mechanical/electrical malfunction…

    I would say the Boss is out of the price range and probably wont depreciate within reach for quite a while… that leaves a used 2011 5.0 in 2013 for about what?, $22k… $20K???? Setting aside an extra $5,000k for upgrades…

    I dont track my cars, but I do enjoy winding them out…. my only real regret with the Boss is that I would kill to have that 7,500rpm redline and all the associated upgraded internals/induction systems on a regular GT…. I just cant imaging the DAILY adrenaline rush to be had winding it out (although the regular GT probably provides 9/10 the rush on public roads…. all within speed limits of course)….

    Jack, how would an NSX 3.2 stack up against the Boss on a track?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I think that if you were willing to bring an NSX “up to snuff” with modern tires, lightweight wheels, and perhaps a complete refresh of the suspension, bushings, et al, it wouldn’t be that far behind. On some courses, it might be neck and neck.

      At Road America, Nelson Ledges, or VIR, expect the Acura to fall out of the mirrors in a lap or two.

      That’s just my two cents, I have no comparative data which is trustworthy.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    “There’s nothing socially relevant about this car.”
    Therein lies it’s beauty, and desirablility.  No one’s pelvis will ever ache for a Prius.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    “The payback: this car has the kind of precision damping you’d expect from “Koni Yellows”.”

    Jack, I’m not quite sure by your meaning of “payback”…are you praising or impugning Koni Yellows? I am very interested to know your opinion of them, as your word holds a lot more sway with me than that of some forum conjecturer.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Maybe “payoff” would have been a better phrase here.

      Koni Yellows are the gold standard among broke-ass club racers, particularly after a revalve. I’ve been racing on them for four years now. We tend to think of them as budget shocks but that’s only because so many people use Penskes, Motons, and the upmarket Konis.

      For a street car, they almost always represent a significant upgrade.

      So… Konis good, Boss 302 shocks good :)

  • avatar
    M3hunter

    Jack,

    In your article you mentioned:  that you will like “a set of Baer eight-piston stoopers on my Boss”.
    Since I’m interested on the 2012 BOSS, I was searching for those, and only finded Baer with six piston. Those that you suggest will be just for the front wheels?

  • avatar
    justanotherwb

    Sweet article, I have to say there is definitely something socially relevant about the BOSS Mustang & the Mustang GT, that is an honest Mustang vs. M3 rivalry. The only mention of a Chevy is in this comment section.

  • avatar
    Fenderaddict2

    I’ve owned a Kona Blue Boss 302 for several months now. Not my first Mustang, there’s a 1965 Fastback in the garage and a ’69 Mach 1 in my history but the cars that I’ve most enjoyed have been Mazda Miatas, and a string of ultimate driving machines by BMW. So does the Boss live up to the hype? Well it had some early build quality issues and the paint scheme is a bit loud while the interior is a bit drab, but I couldn’t car less. This is the most fun car I have driven period. Sure there is exotica out there that makes my heart beat faster but I commute daily over 70 km and every moment is spent rowing through the gears, with the windows down and a big dumb grin on my face. Then there’s car shows and open roads and an upcoming ride to the Montreal F1 and a return trip via track time at Mosport that all make me tingle. I even love the look now. It says it all. This car is fun. Go play serious grown up else where.

  • avatar
    counting302

    Hi, just wanted to say I like my 2012 BOSS 302 Laguna SECA. I have 2500 miles on it. It’s a nice car but I never drive it over the speed limit. It is the black/red w/red painted rims. It’s supposed to be fast. I’ll never know. I leave speed up to 1998 Subaru RS. Weight reduced to 2000 lbs, 400 wheel HP, 425 wheel TQ, instant turbo scroll and tamarc double coil springs, AWD. I can do a curved turn off a highway at 125 mph and get u to 60 mph so fast you won’t be able to grab the 50$ bill from the dash before I get to 60 nor will your mind react fast enough to know I’ve gotten to 60. This is all I have to say. Love the Laguna SECA.


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