The Truth About Cars » boss 302 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:27:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » boss 302 Bark’s Bites: The Mustang Is Dead, Long Live The Mustang Thu, 05 Dec 2013 13:55:11 +0000 mattsmustang

(The Mustang in that photo isn’t just here for irony — it’s for sale! Down to $799 OBO… it’s a GT and the seller is a well-known decent guy in Ohio. Contact us for details — JB)

Embargoes be damned. There’s not a soul on the planet who cared about the 2015 Mustang who couldn’t have told you everything you wanted to know about it before today. Independent Rear Suspension. Fastback. EcoBoost 2.3 liter four-cylinder option. No room for the beloved (or maligned, by ZL1 fans) 5.8 supercharged Shelby motor. The first Mustang to become global under Mulally’s pet project, One Ford. Either god-awful ugly or beautiful, depending on the eye of the beholder. It’s hard to remember a pony car that generated this much buzz.

As an owner of a 2013 Boss 302, I take an especially personal interest in this launch. The Boss 302 did exactly what it was supposed to have done in my case—it enticed somebody who had the budget and the inclination to buy an E92 M3 to visit a Ford dealer instead. I’d never, ever thought of myself as a potential “Mustang man” before the introduction of it. In fact, the S197 as a whole did a great deal to change the perception of Mustangs amongst the upper middle class. It no longer seems strange to see a Mustang in the driveway of a $300K house. In 2011, the V6 went from a joke to a 300+ horsepower, respectable, smart option for lower cost performance. The GT brought back the 5.0, much to the delight of all Robby Van Winkle fans. And, of course, the latest incarnation of the Shelby GT500 was simply sublime, providing mind-boggling horsepower and torque in a mass production car that may never be seen again.

But perception doesn’t always equal reality. Something went wrong with this fairy tale. The Mustang hasn’t cracked 100k sales since 2007, and actually had its worst sales run in the fifty year history of the model in the last four years. It has lagged slightly behind the Camaro in sales for several years and has seen the Challenger creeping up in its limited rear visibility as of late.

So perhaps the time for change is now. Perhaps the decision to abandon the live rear axle that has been the most Mustangish of all Mustang qualities was the right one if Ford has any hope of competing overseas. The available paddle shifters may as well be designed to shift paradigms as well as gears. Paddle shifters? On a ‘Stang? The mind boggles just a bit. MyFord Touch is rearing its less-than-well-received head again here, and this time it has KNOBS. GTFO. And apparently, there’s even a place to put your sunglasses in the 2015, you know, for those times when putting them in the glove box just won’t do at all.

I’ve never sat behind the wheel of a 2015 Mustang, never touched its three-inch-wider Mixalotian rear end. I’ve never felt the IRS adjust for the bumpy Kentucky backroads around my town that tend to greatly upset the solid axle of my 302. Visually, it certainly looks every bit a Mustang, so much so that I doubt the man on the street will really be able to identify it as a new model (well, at least from the front). And there’s really no reason at all to not think that this brave new Mustang world won’t be a great improvement over the current generation.

But as I consumed all the leaks and the photos and the hype this week that led up to the announcement, I began to feel something that no thirty-six year old man ever wants to admit he feels. I started to feel a bit of nostalgia. While all the right things are being said about this not being a “global Mustang,” doesn’t it kinda feel like it is? And in an age where American Exceptionalism is routinely mocked, I honestly can’t figure out if I should be proud that Ford is making the equivalent of red label Levi’s for Russian kids available worldwide, or saddened that they are making changes to the fundamental nature of what a Mustang is in order to do it. Does the Mustang NEED to be a global car? Can’t they just sell a few more Focuses (Foci?) over in Europe and call it a day? Should I just end this paragraph with “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and their dumb dog?”

Ford says they’ll sell close to 100,000 Mustangs next year. I believe them. I hope they do. But I don’t think that one of them will be to me. I don’t suspect many other Boss or Shelby owners will be lining up either. I’m kind of glad that I got one of the last live axle, touchscreen-lacking, fuel-guzzling dinosaurs. I own a Mustang. Loud, brash, and unapologetic. And I have a feeling that my resale value might have just ticked upwards a bit… but it doesn’t matter. This one won’t be for sale.

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QOTD: What’s The Best Retro Mustang? Fri, 18 Oct 2013 15:39:24 +0000

(Let’s all welcome Zombie McQuestionbot back to TTAC. He’s a well-known and well-loved writer who is now writing for “bigger” and “better” and “more easily recognized” and “less thoroughly despised” outlets than this one, but we managed to convince him to write a few questions for us — JB)

Mustangs. I know, right? I almost bought a Mustang once. Actually, I did buy a Mustang. I was in the American South on my way to see an actual underground bullfight, with a bull and everything. But it turned out that the two-year-old “Mustang” that I agreed to pay five thousand dollars for in a back room of a Mexican restaurant was actually a Mustang.

You know, a horse.

The good news is that “Trigger” and I had plenty of good years together before I let him retire to a farm in Oregon. For “plenty of good years” subtitute “one drunken night”. And for “a farm in Oregon” substitute “the glue factory”. Oh, how I cried when they led Trigger away. Mostly because he’d stepped on my foot. But that isn’t the kind of Mustang we’re talking about here. The retro Mustang’s been around since 2005. What’s your favorite one?

Let’s start with the first generation. There was the Mustang V6, which was so bad that owning one is an actual legal cause for divorce in three southern states and Delaware. There was the Mustang GT, which had three hundred horsepower from a giant V-8 that made a lot of noise and once was used to power the world’s most powerful Sybian. Next up, we had the Mustang GT California Special, which was never purchased by anyone in California for the same reasons that you never see Aussies ordering a Bloomin’ Onion at the Outback Steakhouse.

Last but not least, we had the Shelby GT500, which had five hundred horsepower and was named in tribute to the original Shelby GT500, which did not.

Even more last but not least, we had the Mustang Bullitt, which was a nice way to have a tribute to Steve McQueen without having to pay Steve McQueen’s estate anything for doing it. One time I borrowed a Mustang Bullitt and drove it all the way to New York to participate in a high-stakes private poker game. The whole time there it kept punching me in the back every time I drove over an expansion joint. Eventually I gave up on the idea of using the freeway. By the time I got to the poker game, the only people left were James Bond and Le Chiffre, who thought I was making fun of him because I was bleeding from my left eye. I had to explain to him that it was just the ox-cart rear axle that made me that way.

I think there was also a Shelby GT-H, which was rented by Hertz to car collectors who never gave them back. “Send me the bill,” they’d say, and cackle as they stroked their Persian cats.

The original 2005 Mustang was so awesome that Ford decided not to change it for 2010. They just left it in an oven to melt a little bit. There was some concern about the interior melting as well, but it turned out that the plastic on the dashboard was so hard that it refused to melt. Instead, it actually transferred the heat to the nose of the car and made it look all droopy.

A drunken mistake by Alan Mullalllally while watching the Vanilla Ice movie, “Cool As Ice”, forced Ford to immediately put 5.0 engines in the 2011 model. These engines were actually twice as powerful as the original Mustang 5.0, which meant that it should have been a Mustang 10.0. Unfortunately, the average Mustang owner can’t count that high, so they left it as 5.0.

The original Mustang 5.0 was actually a 4.9. But Mustang owners didn’t understand the decimal system, so Ford called it the 5.0.

The new Mustang has spawned multiple variants — the Durable Technical V-6, which is not durable and has the “technical” solid rear axle. There’s the GT Track Pack, for both of the Mustang GT owners in America who think tracks have right turns, too. The California Special is back and it sells very well in Ohio.

Last but not least is the Boss 302. This car is more expensive than a used Corvette, which has always been the case for new Mustangs. Supposedly it’s very fast, but probably not as fast as a CTS-V.

If you’ve always wanted a Boss 302 your whole life since they came out two years ago, you might also be satisfied with a Hertz Penske GT, which is being rented from Hertz directly to collectors who will not be giving them back. I was an at airport recently, on my way to party with the guy who used to date the girl who sat next to Lindsay Lohan in her most recent rehab circle. I asked for an “Adrenaline” car, so they gave me a Dodge Challenger SRT. It was so obviously made for older people that I wasn’t surprised that one of the buttons on the steering wheel was labeled “Fallen And Can’t Get Up.”

All of these Mustangs are classics, but only one can be your favorite. So which will it be?

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Spy Photography the TTAC Way Thu, 14 Mar 2013 17:03:17 +0000

Spy photographer Bark M strikes again! Well, actually, this is the first time he’s struck. Any guesses as to what it is? For reference, our man spotted this vehicle outside Auburn Hills. What’s throwing us off is that there’s no Alfa Romeo bodywork clumsily attached to the rest of the car…

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Come Meet And/Or Beat TTAC At A Unique SCCA Event Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:15:29 +0000

Hey there, autocrossers! Aren’t you tired of explaining to that stacked little “administrative assistant” down the hall that you race on a parking lot, not a racetrack? Would you like to change that in a way that preserves your car and your own scaly hide? Would you like to face off against TTAC’s only most feared racers? Of course you would.

This has to be one of the better ideas the SCCA’s had in a while. It’s called the Road Course Tour and it’s a National-Solo-style event held on the reopened Gateway Road Course smack-dab in the middle of the Midwest. Price is a modest $102. As with every SCCA Solo event, safety will be paramount; this is probably an order of magnitude less dangerous than the average HPDE 1 event — which, itself, is probably as safe as the drive you take to get there.

This is the second year for the Road Course Tour. Last year’s event, held in Nashville, was a total success, and this year should be the same. Top speeds won’t be high enough to cause serious concern, so anybody who isn’t a complete moron should be able to safely enter their street car the same way they would at a normal Solo event.

Your humble author, along with his brother in autocross combat “Bark M”, will be entering, so feel free to show up and give us a thrashing. In fact, we’ll probably bring along some sort of minor gift for any TTACer who enters in any class. What are we driving? Possibly Bark’s Boss 302, possibly the BSP Honda S2000 that he drives with Changed Mon Motorsports, possibly my Boxster S on my last set of A3S05 sticker tires from the Ketel-One-Fueled Online Sixteen-Comp-Tire-Purchase-Binge Of 2007. Who knows? Come on out and compete. It’s what separates the men from the women. Actually, that’s not true. There are women in SCCA Solo who are competing while you sit on your ass in Mom’s basement watching Top Gear and telling the Vortex Car Lounge you can’t wait to pay cash for a diesel stick-shift wagon. Let’s do this!

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Kids Tue, 18 Sep 2012 12:17:18 +0000

She is twenty-seven or perhaps thirty-one, long-limbed and lithe with clean blond hair pulled straight back – though not in a severe way – from a fine-boned, small-nosed face. That which is not honed by either Pilates or Bikram is flattered by the lycra of her Lululemon yoga capris, the fabric caressing as it flexes. As she bends over to soothe an adorable tow-headed toddler in a six-hundred-dollar ergonomic jogging stroller, I have just one thing on my mind.


That is a really nice stroller.

Congratulate me: I’m a new father! And so, after a bloody, protracted labour that’d make the UFC look like a competitive backrub league, my priorities have changed somewhat. I have a child now. A daughter.

It’s the oddest sensation, to hear the first cry of a child and feel the poles of your life suddenly shift; to be handed a squalling life and feel the unimaginable weight of all that potential joy and heartbreak as it falls asleep in your arms. There was a Then, but this is the Now, and no matter how many platitudes or warnings you’ve absorbed over the years, you are utterly unprepared for the emotional gut-punch.

On the other hand, some things never change. Let’s go buy her a Hot Wheels.

What better sled to go toy-car hunting in than this, the Boss 302 Mustang? TTAC loves the ‘Stang with an – ahem – unbridled passion, and the Boss is perhaps best of breed, though it would certainly be eaten alive by the how-is-this-legal Shelby.

When I was not-yet four, I went on a similar shopping expedition with my Dad, just prior to meeting my little brother for the first time. I remember agonizing over what to buy my new playmate (a tank? a bull-dozer?), finally settling on a semi-trailer dump-truck which is now safely tucked away in some dusty box of old report cards and baby shoes.

In the same hospital where my daughter will be born some thirty years later, four-year-old-me scrubs up with strawberry-scented hand soap and waits patiently to meet another small boy with whom I will spend countless hours devising sandbox highways and vinyl-floor racetracks.

If only I could travel back in time, pull that small boy version of me aside, show him a picture of the school-bus yellow Pony and say, “Guess what? You get to drive one of these eventually.”

Really though, I’d have to bring a recording along as well, because half the charm of the Boss is in the simply outstanding racket it produces, bellowing away from the side-pipes in a glorious snarl that relaxes to the throaty grumble of a jungle cat when tooling around in the lower gears. No electronic exhaust baffles. No “ActiveSoundDesign” pants-stuffing.

As much fun as I’m having driving this thing, it could be argued that playing to an audience is half the enjoyment. Kids love this car – it’s what the Pied Piper of Hammelin would drive.

Adults don’t always turn to look, wrapped up in their own concerns and worries; when they do, you might get a grin, you might get a sneer for the skittle-shaded muscle-car. Not so with anyone under the age of ten – eyes widen, jaws drop, a little girl claps her hands over her ears. When I pull up in front of Granville Island Kid’s Market, a rubber-necking boy of about six or so has to be collared by his mother before he walks into a pole.

It’s magic, magic of the sort I first felt staring into a window like this one. The Boss is good at many things, but best of all is the way in which it mentally puts you back on the sidewalk, three-foot-tall and clutching a metal, wheeled talisman in a grubby fist as it rolls by and captures your imagination.

You tend to forget this feeling, alive for only the briefest of moments; the lifespan of morning dew on a summer’s day. Later on, you might see the car as freedom from teenage angst, a way to assert your dominance over your fellow motorist on the street or racetrack, an escape from the suffocating weight of adult responsibility, a badge of worldly success. The wonder is gone, lost in the everyday fog of speed traps and traffic and depreciation and fuel-costs and all the other little voices clamouring for your attention.

I don’t find exactly what I’m looking for here, so on to the next stop.

Given the modern electronic assault on imagination, it’s heartening to find two entire walls dedicated to Hot Wheels and Matchboxes inside the Toys R Us big-box. I’ve seen an exasperated father hand his boisterous sixteen-month-old an iPhone, and watched her swipe, tap and expand her way into a YouTube clip of Cookie Monster. You’d think toy cars couldn’t compete with gizmos, and yet here they are.

Remember the joy of rummaging through the pile of discards at the bottom of the rack, or flicking through endless repeats to find to one model that you’re after? I know what I’m looking for: I saw it hanging in a grocery store display months-back, but it’s not here.

My brother got married this summer, on the deck of the house where I grew up. In the interim between the ceremony and the reception, I wandered around the grounds, bemused at the change wrought by my dad’s unending landscaping projects.

On the top of a rack he’d built for drying firewood, I found this broken, soil-packed Majorette that dad must have dug up at some point; archeological relic of my childhood. Turning it over in my hands made me realize how few of these artifacts have survived the years.

With that in mind, when I finally find the right car, I buy three, one for now, one to go on my desk as a reminder and one to be tucked away safely for the future.

And here it is.

While facebook wags were quick to inquire if the choice of a Lotus Europa was some way of preparing my daughter for failure and disappointment (and unexplained fires), nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, it’s perfect because it’s a bit odd, and bright-pink, and – as it turns out – somewhat hard to find. Special.

So too, is this machine.

By the time 2028 rolls around, it’s hard to imagine anything like it will still be around. Communal motoring, choked freeways, electronically-surveilliance (mandatory and otherwise) – it’ll be a different driving world for her.

And maybe she won’t care. Likely she’ll have learned to just tolerate her father’s idiosyncrasies, will have matured into her own person with her own passions.

This morning though, I lift her out of her bed-side crib and she opens up her eyes to smile at me, briefly, for the first time. I understand that for a short time we will share everything, but that she will gradually grow away from me; it’ll happen sooner than I can imagine.

But I also know, that sometime far off in the future, if I’m lucky, she’ll pull down a cardboard box off a shelf, perhaps fishing for an old photograph, and she’ll find this little pink car, chipped and battered by the years. As she holds it in her hand, I hope the years melt away, and she is once again wrapped in her father’s arms, snug and safe, loved and loved and loved.

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The Camaro 1LE Wants To Be The BOSS Of You Thu, 19 Jul 2012 18:15:02 +0000

AutoGuide states that

In many ways, the 1LE is to the Camaro SS what the Boss 302 is to the Mustang GT.

Sure, and in many ways Silver Side Up was to Nickelback what Zep II was to Jimmy Page and the rest of the boys. And just like Silver Side Up, the Camaro keeps selling like there’s probably no tomorrow, and certainly no trackday tomorrow. Let’s see what 1LE customers will get.

Want to know what “1LE” is all about? Go visit this Angelfire page. Quick, before Angelfire collapses into a black hole of archaic irrelevance or something like that. The original 1LE cars were SCCA-focused ass-kickers. This one? Well, you will get

FE6 suspension package which includes thicker front and rear sway bars, a strut tower brace, toe links, rear shock mounts, monotube dampers, upgraded half-shafts and wheel bearings sourced from the ZL1 model. 20-inch wheels wrapped with Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar tires finish off the package.

The drivetrain also sees some upgrades with a 3.91:1 rear-axle ratio and an updated close-ratio variant of the Tremec six-speed manual transmission. Lastly, the automaker also throws in a transmission cooler and high-flow fuel pump.

As for aesthetics, the 1LE model is differentiated from its brethren with a black finish on the hood and wheels. Climbing inside the cabin, microsuede accents are seen on the steering wheel and shift knob, again borrowed from the ZL1.

This strikes me as a Camaro “GrandSport”. The Corvette GS, of course, is a Z06 without the handmade engine or expensive aluminum chassis. This is a ZL1 without the engine but with most of the cosmetics. It’s not a BOSS 302, which is an extremely focused vehicle even if you don’t spring for the Laguna Seca package.

One area where credit must be given: the Camaro 1LE, like the SS, uses the more expensive Mexican-assembled Tremec 6060 which Ford saves for the Shelby GT500. If you’re hard on transmissions, or expect to add significant power through the limitless small-block-Chevy aftermarket, it’s enough for us to recommend the Camaro over the Mustang. Everybody else… we’ll see you at the Ford store.

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Review: 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 and Boss 302 “Laguna Seca” Wed, 23 Feb 2011 22:00:30 +0000

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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1970 Mustang Boss 302 vs 2011 Mustang V6: And The Winner Is… Thu, 09 Sep 2010 01:23:34 +0000

The 1970 Mustang Boss 302 is a legend. Created specifically to compete against the Camaro z-28 in the Trans Am championship, the Boss 302 is a much rarer pony than its nemesis. Only 1628 were built in 1969 and 7013 in 1970. Its claim to fame was the unique pairing of the Windsor 302 block with the biggest Cleveland heads possible, the result rated (conservatively) at 290 hp. Somewhat surprisingly, CR bought and tested one in 1970. And since they just finished comparing the 2011 Mustang V6 against the Camaro, CR pitted the stats of the two against each other. Let’s just say that the forty years have brought some progress:

The little V6 makes more power, and scoots the 2011 down the road substantially faster. Now those test results from the Boss look a little slow compared to the commonly published figures of the times (0-60 in 6.9; 1/4 mile in 14.6 @98mph). But then the buff books didn’t buy their Bosses anonymously, like CR did. Anyway, the V6 still equals those numbers.  And gets more than twice the mileage. The prices: similar too, adjusted for inflation, comparing a base 2011 to the Boss. And the 2011 gives you a the comforts that either weren’t available or extra in 1970: AC, power steering, music and a host of other creature comforts. Progress; although maybe not as much as some of us might have imagined in 1970. Predictions then would have had us all in electric cars long ago.

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