Home Events Boss 302 Mustangs and Cougars at Cars and Coffee Austin

Boss 302 Mustangs and Cougars at Cars and Coffee Austin

2010-09-25

The 1969 and 1970 Boss 302 Mustangs were homologation specials, built specifically to allow the car to compete in SCCA Trans Am racing. The  cars were fitted with special handling options, but the most distinctive feature was the engine itself. The engine was basically a Windsor 302-cube motor fitted with 351 Cleveland type heads. There were reliability problems and several changes were made over the two years of production. The resultant horsepower was only 290. Although the figure was known to be under-rated (probably closer to 350), this was gross horsepower and was measured without engine accessories or driveline. Therefore, the power output was certainly far less than today’s 2011 Mustang GT or 2012 Boss.

1628 Boss 302 Mustangs were produced in 1969, 7013 in 1970. In addition, the Boss 302 engine was also offered in the Cougar Eliminator for both years. 169 were built for 1969. The Cougar was considerably heavier than the Mustang and would perform somewhat less. Authentic Boss 302 Mustangs and Cougars are amongst the most collectible of all special edition Fords and prices remain very high.

Car life reported in July 1969 a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds and a quarter mile of 14.08 @ 102.85 MPH. While good for that time period, it would be totally unacceptable for today’s Mustangs. Even the 2011 V-6 Mustang handily outdoes that. In fact, the Consumer Reports October 2010 issue shows the 2011 V-6 Mustang overwhelming a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang, with a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds versus 8 flat,  and fuel economy averaging 24 for the v-6 versus only 11 for the Boss. We think this is a very telling example of progress… although as usual we are disgusted to see such a crude chassis after 40 years of so-so-progress. At least Ford finally understands that a base model Mustang doesn’t have to be a miserable box, and it’s taken them 45 years to remember that this was a fundamental reason for the success of the original mid-60s Mustangs.

We’ve had the good fortune to encounter both a Boss 302 Mustang and Cougar this year at the Cars and Coffee shows in Austin, Texas.

We’ll start with this absolutely gorgeous 1970 Cougar Eliminator. We’ve seen several of these over the years but this one looks the best, with a near-perfect restoration. We had both 1969 and 1970 Cougars in our family, and our own loaded 1970 Cougar XR-7 remains a handsome favorite. But it was nothing compared to this one… it’s the car we’d take of the two Boss examples shown here.

In profile, the Cougar was a sexy cat: long, low, lean, and curvy. It doens’t get any better than this from Mercury.

One indication of originality is the drip channel added under the start motor relay. Only Boss powered cars had these. It’s a clear sign that this example is almost certainly an original, although the shocks, battery, and chrome dipstick are clearly not original. This car still even the air injection (“smog”) device present (canister to the right, with hose leading down) – bravo to the owner for this attention to detail.

This 1969 Boss Mustang also made an appearance – again a very sharp looking Mustang, with (amazing for a Mustang) zero fake scoops. In fact Ford went to the length of removing the fake scoop behind the side door handles solely for Boss production. That wasn’t cheap to do, and it shows that Ford understood that a “form follows function” philosophy was what serious enthusiasts expected. That was a practice we wouldn’t see again from Ford until the Mustang SVOs of the 1980s. It’d be great to see Ford follow this practice again… the current Mustang can be ordered with a huge fake hood scoop and 4 non-functional side scoops. Poseurs!

This Boss is far less original than the Cougar above…the intake manifold and air cleaner are, unfortunately, completely wrong.

Will the 2012 and 2013 Boss Mustangs be as collectible as the originals? It’s hard to say at this point, but with only 7500 street cars to be made over two years it’s likely we’ll see high prices in 20 or 30 years. The majority of them will immediately go into storage instead of being used on the roadrace track, as they were designed for. Other recent special edition models such as the Bullets or Machs can be found at low prices… and are often modified past their original specifications. And the 2013 will mark the end of the current model Mustang… it will undoubtedly be replaced by something much lighter but with the same engines and a far better rear suspension. For an original Boss 302 powered car, we’d take the Cougar or Mustang shown here. But for a late model car, we’d rather wait until the Mustang gets replaced in 2014. We have higher expectations than Ford can currently deliver.

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