When I was in grade three I used to pass a mean looking 1970 Boss Mustang on my way back from school each day. I took the short route to school in the morning so I could sleep in, but in the afternoon I would take an extended route home just to catch a glimpse of the bright orange muscle car that resided under a big oak tree a few blocks away. I would walk as fast as I could just in case the owner was getting ready to go to work. If I heard the distinctive rumble of the car's throaty exhaust I would break into a run fearful that the menacing machine would depart before I could lock my eyes on its gleaming bodywork. I thought that car was the coolest thing on wheels.
Flash forward to 2013, and little Russell Purcell isn't so little anymore, but he still holds a strange longing for the bright orange Boss Mustang and its glorious V-8 rumble. When Ford announced that they were going to produce a special Boss edition of the current Mustang I didn't see any reason to get excited, as I assumed that it would consist of a simple sticker package or cheesy graphic rather than the distinctive styling and performance features that made the Boss a legend on both the track and the street.
Boy was I wrong!
When I finally got my hands on the "School Bus Yellow" press car I was immediately smitten. Ford's designers had gone all out to tastefully recreate the original car's unique styling. My test vehicle brought back fond memories of the then four-year old author sitting trackside at Seattle International Raceway on a late September day watching a rainbow of rumbling race cars flash before my young eyes as I became initiated into the world of motor sports for the first time. My gear-head uncle educated me and my father about the perils of racing and the legendary feats of the man who would eventually win the race (and the championship) that day, American racing icon Parnelli Jones. Parnelli's car was cloaked in bright orange paint for impact, and it is this car and colour combination that would impact my interest in automobiles and racing for years to come.
The 2013 Boss features a model specific grille which incorporates a pair of removable caps should you wish to visit the track and direct more air under the hood. A pair of louvered hood vents help to allow hot air to escape, but also hint at this car's sport-minded nature. The front fascia features a wide secondary grille, as well as cooling ducts for the front brakes and a pair of dedicated driving lights. The new HID headlamps are state of the art, but they also give the car a sinister appearance when illuminated. A functional splitter helps the car efficiently cut through the air as does the bold rear unit which peeks out from beneath the rear bumper. A bold, high-gloss black panel which houses slick, LED tail lamps is the dominant styling cue at the rear of the car. Twin tailpipes and a slender rear spoiler help complete the look.
Ford's design team busted out the old play book when it came to selecting the colour palate for this car. Apart from the aforementioned School Bus Yellow, buyers can select from Gotta Have It Green, Race Red, or Grabber Blue. If these retro colours are too loud for your taste then you probably shouldn't buy the car. However, for fans of plain vanilla, Ford offers Performance White. All Boss models sport a glossy black hood stripe and matching Reverse C side stripes (known in the muscle car world as hockey sticks). The latter are reflective, which proves quite the sight when you spot a Boss prowling the streets at night.
Sliding into the optional Recaro sport bucket seat put a smile on my face as its wraparound design is all business. The thick-rimmed, Alcantarra suede covered steering wheel felt natural in my hands and the car's steering feel was impressive. The layout of both the passenger compartment and dashboard will be familiar to Mustang fans, but a host of new electronic toys will no doubt get their tongues wagging.
The car comes equipped with Ford SYNC, which is the company's innovative voice-activated in-car connectivity system. Ford SYNC allows the driver to operate an entire suite of communication and entertainment systems in short order, including an integrated emergency call function should you need assistance.
Also on board is Ford's Track Apps package which measures performance variables such as acceleration times, brake performance, and lateral and longitudinal G-forces using an accelerometer. User controls are conveniently mounted on the steering-wheel, and a high visibility display screen is situated between the tachometer and speedometer. If you are a fan of drag racing, then you will appreciate the “Christmas tree” countdown timer that is included as part of this clever package. I bet Parnelli would enjoy this system.
Performance and handling
Beneath the Power Dome vented hood of the Boss Mustang you will find a tidy engine bay fitted with a special variant of Ford's 5.0-litre Coyote V-8 engine that generates 444-hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. A short-throw, close-ratio, 6-speed, manual transmission is mated to a heavy-duty limited-slip differential to ensure that all this glorious power gets to the ground in an efficient manner. Acceleration is quick and linear with sprints to 100 km/h taking a mere 4.5-seconds. The torque band is wide enough to provide plenty of grunt at all reasonable engine speeds so the Boss driver will feel confident that they will never be short of power.
Big Brembo-engineered high-performance brakes hide behind the 19-inch,10-spoke black racing wheels. Huge 14-inch vented rotors and four-piston calipers up front ensure that the lucky drivers of these rare pony cars will have the means to rein in the car during enthusiastic driving, and that they will remain fade-free for the duration of this hooliganism.
Ford's engineers have fitted the Boss with adjustable front and rear shocks to allow the more technically savvy owners to tweak the settings to best suit their individual driving style.
The meaty Pirelli P Zero tires adhered to the road surface like glue, and I had to work hard to induce a little tail wag during one session of spirited driving.
The Boss is significantly lighter than the Mustang GT so it feels more nimble when driven in anger, and the car's phenomenal suspension and steering bless it with very precise and predictable handling. Ford engineers refined the car's suspension by utilizing higher-rate coil springs, stiffer suspension bushings, and a larger-diameter rear stabilizer bar for 2013. The end result is a very durable set-up with handling dynamic enough to embarrass that fitted to many dedicated racing vehicles.
Much like the original Boss 302 the modern car was given a two-year production run. The idea was to use this special machine to rekindle interest in the Ford brand, and the Mustang in particular, by linking the design, styling and performance to the 1969 and 1970 models that brought the company such glory on the track and in the showroom. Mustang enthusiasts have responded by clambering to get the keys, but as the cars are so limited, that can be a difficult task. I know of a local dealer that had two of these on his lot last week, and I would have already pulled the trigger on the School Bus Yellow dream machine if I had only had the forethought to save my allowance over the years.
Technical specifications: 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Coupe
Base Price (MSRP): $48,799
Price as tested: $58,631
Type: 5-passenger, 5 door SUV
Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Engine: 5.0-litre, Hi-Po 4V Ti-VCT V8 engine
Horsepower: 444 @ 5,500 - 6,400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 380 @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Brakes: Ventilated discs front and rear
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 4.5 s
Fuel economy [L/100 km]: Automatic- City 16.6 L (17 mpg); Hwy 10.7 L (26 mpg)