The Original Ford Boss 302 Engine Made Mustang Fans Drool
The Ford Boss 302 engine is something of a legend. People talk about it in hushed tones with a certain amount of awe. Designer Larry Shinoda named the engine "Boss" after Ford CEO Bunkie Knudsen, who supported the development of the Mustang that would be its home. Shinoda referred to Knudsen as "Boss," so it was the perfect moniker for the new Mustang. The small-block V8 Ford Boss 302 was used in 1969 and 1970 Boss 302 Mustangs. It had a thin-wall, high-nickel content casting and differed from regular 302s in that it had 4-bolt mains, screw-in freeze plugs, and heads with a canted valve design. This high-performance engine was designed for the SCCA's Trans-Am road races. RELATED: See Photos of the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302
The engine's high RPM capability required a bigger diameter alternator pulley and power steering pulley over the standard 302s. There was also an RPM limiter that was there for owner warranty purposes, but that didn't stop them from being removed by owners. The connecting rods were also different than the 302, coming instead from the 289 HIPO which let them manage higher RPM numbers. Power output on the Boss 302 was 290 horsepower at 5,200 RPM with torque of 290 lb-ft at 4,300 RPM. It was a beast in its day and it looked and sounded incredible.
Ford Racing began marketing new Boss 302 crate engines in 2007 with entry level options rated at 340-345 horsepower. High performance versions take that number to between 360 and 450 horsepower while the highest horsepower 5.4-liter variant tops out at 500 horsepower. That's a far cry from the 290 horsepower that made the Boss a boss back in the 1970s, but there's something about the original that still has people drooling when they turn up at car shows.
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Photo Credit: Mecum Auctions