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Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017
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Born to Run: Mustang Boss 302

If you thought Bruce Springsteen was the only Boss in town, think again. Ford's iconic Mustang Boss 302 is back and badder than ever. Rewind to 1970. The car to beat on the Trans-Am racecar race circuit was the thundering Boss 302. The legendary driver Parnelli Jones won that year's series in his banana-yellow beast. Then the fuel crisis hit and the world suddenly no longer salivated over 302 cubic-inch tire-fryin', gas-guzzlin' monsters. The muscle car era was over. Fast forward 41 years and Ford has dusted off the Boss badge and planted it on a bad-boy version of its Mustang GT coupe. Make no mistake, the wait has been worth every nano-second.
And this isn't the usual stickers-and-stripes Mustang limited-edition. This is a car that has had engineering love and attention lavished on it to edge it closer in driving sophistication to those fancy European sports coupes, like BMW's M3. It's powered by a heavily breathed-on 5.0-liter Mustang V8 with a major internal makeover that ups horsepower to a whopping 444 horsepower at 7500 rpm. That results in zero-to-60 mph sprinting in just 4.3 seconds and top speed to 155 mph. This pony gallops. All that oomph goes through a close-ratio six-speed manual topped by a short-throw shifter. Add in uprated suspension, Brembo stoppers, Boss-unique 19-inch alloys with sticky Pirelli rubber and you get one serious road-racer package. How does it drive? Just sensational. Its three-way-adjustable electric steering is laser precise, and even though there's still a Flintstone-esque live axle out back, its chassis feels supremely balanced and neutral. It grips blacktop like Velcro on velvet. At $40,145, this 2012 Boss 302 is one of the performance bargains of the year. Want a more track-focused Boss? Opt for the harder-edge Laguna Seca version at $47,140. That's if you can get one. Like the other Boss sings, this baby is truly born to run. Tampa-based autowriter Howard Walker can be reached at walkweb@verizon.net.
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