2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca [Video]

Motor Trend has taken the Boss 302 for a spin around Laguna Seca, and the lap time is very impressive. What does that mean exactly?

Do you want to spec up a Ford Mustang Boss 302, or are you curious how the Laguna Seca version would look with stripes on the side? Well, now that the online configurator is up, you can play with the Blue Oval’s versions all you want. You should definitely check the Recaro cloth sports seats, even though they will set you back an extra $1,995. Despite costing $40,995, the 2012 performance machine still sound like a true bargain.

Despite the fact that a navigation system won’t be available, the short option list includes Accessory Package with floor mats and car cover for an extra $475, plus Yellow Blaze Tri-Coat paint at an additional cost of $495. The track-oriented Laguna Seca Package comes in at $47,990.

As it is clearly aimed at enthusiasts more interested in on-track performance than creature comforts, the Boss 302 Laguna Seca has increased body stiffness, a firmer chassis set-up and an aerodynamics package carried over almost in its entirety from the Ford Racing Boss 302R.

And if you’re still not ready to plunk down the cash (real or imaginary) for one just yet, we have just the video to help convince you that the $40,000+ you need to spend will be worth it. Motor Trend has taken the Boss 302 for a spin around Laguna Seca, and the lap time is very impressive. Check the video above to see what we’re talking about.

“The team at Ford wanted to offer their fellow Mustang enthusiasts something really special – a beautifully balanced factory-built race car that they could drive on the street,” explains Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer.

“The Ford Mustang Boss 302 isn’t something a Mustang GT owner can buy all the parts for out of a catalog or that a tuner can get by adding a chip. This is a front-to-back re-engineered Mustang with every system designed to make a good driver great and a great driver even better.” [via AutoBlog, Auto Evolution and Fox 59]

The original Boss 302 Ford Mustang was sold only in 1969 and 1970, but that’s all it took — the car’s sole job was to be the basis of the racer that would claim the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-Am championship for Ford, and that mission was accomplished.

To do that, rules required Ford to build a certain number for the public. It cranked out 8,641 that are collector’s items.

The Boss 302, so named because the engine was 302 cubic inches, or 5 liters, pumped out 290 horsepower, a lot for a relatively small V-8 engine then. The car was light, emphasizing handling instead of horsepower, something else that was comparatively rare in 1969.

When the 5-liter V-8 returned for the 2011 Ford Mustang, company executives were quickly made aware of the possibility for a second round of Boss 302 production. Rather than just slap Boss 302 stickers on a Mustang GT, though, the company spent a lot of time and effort — and, presumably, money — on making the 2012 Boss 302 worthy of the name.

This new engine had a potent 412 horsepower, making even the base Mustang GT, priced at slightly less than $30,000, one of the best performance bargains on the market. But engineers made a lot of changes to bring the Boss 302’s horsepower up to 444: sophisticated new cylinder heads, a new intake, hollow-stemmed valves, a new camshaft and lighter pistons and rods. The GT’s regular six-speed manual transmission was deemed beefy enough to take the extra horsepower with no changes.

The suspension was upgraded and is manually adjustable at all four wheels. Using a screwdriver, the owner can select one of five settings, ranging from firm to rock hard, which is good for the racetrack but brutal on the road. That was the mantra from the start for the new Boss 302: Build a car that drivers can take to the racetrack on weekends but use weekdays.

There is the TracKey feature that, for about $300, allows the dealer to add a program to the car’s main computer that, when the particular ignition key is used, activates a race-mode-only setting that changes the powertrain’s whole dynamic. Maintaining the street-friendly setting, which resides next to the car’s race-only program on the main computer, allows the Boss 302 to pass Environmental Protection Agency mileage ratings with a decent 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, eliminating the need for a “gas guzzler” tax.

A look at the options package points up the performance nature of the Boss 302. The only real options, other than the TracKey, are superb Recaro seats and a Torsen performance differential for the rear axle. You can’t get a sunroof, or a navigation system, or even satellite radio, and you certainly can’t get an automatic transmission. The seats and differential are packaged together for $1,995.

How does it work? Amazingly well in all situations. Handling is stunningly good, in part because of premium Pirelli PZero tires, and the Brembo-brand disc brakes are up to the task, even on the track. The electric power steering, programmable by the driver for feel, is excellent.

Base price for the Boss 302 is $40,145, or $42,990 with shipping and the optional seats and differential. You can upgrade to a Laguna Seca edition for $6,995.

The Laguna Seca, offered only in polarizing two-tone paint schemes, trades a rear seat for extra chassis bracing, has wider tires and wheels, extra cooling and a huge NASCAR-styled front spoiler that Ford said must be used only on the racetrack.

Ford plans to build only 4,000 or so Boss 302s for 2012, with about 750 being the Laguna Seca model. Only two-thirds of the 3,000 or so Ford dealers will get the Boss 302, allocated based on each dealership’s average Mustang sales.

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