Ford built the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302 on its own, without outside help but following a Kar Kraft prototype, sending the result to showrooms in March 1969. Car and Driver called it "easily the best Mustang yet ... the best handling Ford to ever come out of Dearborn." Road & Track later described a Boss 302 as "delightfully sporting when driven hard."
Priced at a more modest $3,588 (nearly $1,000 higher than a base Mustang), the Boss 302 wore a deeper front "chin" spoiler than its big-block counterpart and could be ordered with an adjustable wing rear spoiler for $19. High-back bucket seats added $84. Distinctive rear-window louvers ($128), hinged at the top, helped give the smaller Boss a look all its own.
Despite the advertised figure of 290 horsepower, the 302-cid small-block V-8 undoubtedly delivered a whole lot more. Estimates ranged as high as 400 bhp. Running on 10.5:1 compression, the engine carried Cleveland heads and 2.23-inch intake valves, an aluminum high-riser manifold with 780-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor, and aluminum rocker covers. Low-restriction headers fed large-diameter dual exhausts.
Ford's wide-ratio four-speed went into early 302s, with a high-capacity 10.4-inch clutch-eventually augmented by a Hurst shifter. Suspension tweaks included stiffer springs and staggered rear shocks. Specially flared wheel openings were needed to accommodate the fat Goodyear F60 x 15 Polyglas rubber, which rode seven-inch Magnum 500 wheels. The "Daytona" rear axle incorporated a standard 3.50:1 ratio, but could also get a 3.91:1 or 4.30:1 cog.
Matte black paint highlighted the hood, rear deck, and outer headlight area. Bodyside striping included a "Boss 302" designation on the leading edge.
Although the factory claimed a 0-60 time of 6.0 seconds, actual Boss 302 tests proved a mite slower: 6.5 seconds and up. Quarter-mile times went into the mid-14s, with speeds in the upper 90s. Only 1,934 were built in 1969.
Both Bosses continued into 1970, when 6,318 Boss 302s and about 498 of the 429s were produced. The 302 was billed as "Son of Trans-Am," even though -- as fortune dictated -- Chevrolet's Camaro had emerged victorious in Trans-Am racing.
See the specifications for the 1969 Ford Mustang 302 and 429 on the next page.