The challenge whenever we test a car is to convey just how it feels behind the wheel. The tools at our disposal are words, pictures, video and sound, but I’ve always believed that you can’t beat the sound of an engine at full-chat.

The Ford Mustang Boss 302 is all about the engine – NOT a muscle car engine as you might expect, but instead one of the finest normally aspirated V8s on the market today.

Don’t believe me? Well, then I encourage you to listen for yourself.

Last time we did this was for the Lexus LFA – we called it “A Symphony of Sound” and since then it’s clocked up nearly 740,000 views and 900 comments on YouTube (96% of them positive). Okay, those aren’t exactly Gymkhana 3 sized numbers but the appeal of such a simple yet relevant piece of content is unquestionable.

About the Boss 302..

We’ve been driving the Mustang Boss 302 this past week, covering over 1500 miles as we learned all we could about its most appealing qualities.

The engine you’re listening to is a 5.0-litre V8 based on the Mustang GT’s powerplant, but with a whole host of upgrades including forged aluminum pistons with polished CNC-ported heads, forged connecting rods, race-spec crankshaft and rod bearings, heavy-duty valve springs, more aggressive camshafts, twin independent variable cam-timing and a new intake system lifted from the 302R race car.

The result is a claimed 444 hp, 32 hp up on the Mustang GT with an engine which revs up to 7,500 rpm (even though it’s been reliably tested up 8,400 rpm). InsideLine Magazine ran a Boss 302 on a dyno recording 416 hp at the wheels, which allowing for a conservative powertrain loss of 15% (between the flywheel and the wheels) would equate to around 490 hp – which is closer to the impression we gained from our Laguna Seca spec test car.

There are several tweaks most owners make to their Boss 302’s, all of them factory approved but which would otherwise increase the cost of homologation. First, TracKey – a software upgrade installed after the car is purchased, accessed by a specially programmed vehicle key. Think of it as an aftermarket engine management upgrade, but developed by the same team that designed the engine.

Although Ford don’t advertise any increase in power the TracMode software alters more than 400 engine management parameters, increasing low-end torque and turning the potent but well-mannered stock Boss into more of a competition-ready track car. Perhaps it has something to do with the extra 50 ponies discovered by InsideLine on the dyno..

Boss 302 Exhaust Restrictor Plates
The offending restrictor plates which are located at the junction where the side exhausts meet the main pipe – the plate on the left was left uncleaned to show the exhuast deposit and the extent to which it restricts flow.

The second ‘easy’ upgrade left for customers to apply is removal of the 5/8-inch restrictor plates within each of the side-exit exhausts. Just 3 bolts each side of the exhaust are all that stands between the mild-mannered Clark Kent and his Superman alterego. In the interest of scientific research (and because we just had to find out how much louder the Boss 302 could get) we removed the plates on our test car, so the sound you hear in the tracks below are of a fully-liberated Boss 302.

Take a listen for yourself and then let us know what you think, there aren’t many engines out there as eager to rev and yet capable of lugging around town in 3rd or 4th gear. The Speed of Sound (Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca) by citizenslide

Written By

Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

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