How to make the Ford Mustang Boss 302 sound even better

Published: 02 December 2011

It’s easy to fall in love with a car in its natural habitat. After a week driving a Ford Mustang Boss 302 around LA, reporting the story on southern California’s car culture which you can read in the current issue of CAR Magazine, I boldly declared it ‘the best American car I’ve driven’.

But would it feel as good in the UK? Ford has brought a couple here, so I got straight on the phone to Henry, asking if I could borrow one for a few days as soon as I got back for a ‘scientific, back-to-back comparison of driving impressions on US and UK roads’.

Boyzone and the Boss

Sound convincing? The truth is I just wanted more wheel-time: the comparison would be interesting but was definitely secondary. Anyway, Henry bought it, and soon after I got back I found myself at Shane Lynch from Boyzone’s house (I’m not making this up: he’d kindly agreed to cut short his loan for me) collecting a black Boss 302 Laguna Seca special edition.

I’d planned to use this blog to tell you how I felt about the Boss after driving it in the UK. I still will, but I’ve been massively distracted by the simplest and best modification I reckon you can make to any production car on sale. I’m grateful to my friends at America’s Car and Driver magazine for pointing it out. I’m only sorry I spotted their story about it after I got back from LA, but I could still make the mod to the Boss I drove here.

Here’s how it works. The Boss has a four-branch exhaust system: two exit at the rear through the full set of mufflers and resonators, and two shorter pipes exit at either side. Restrictor plates choke these side pipes back from their full 55mm to around 8mm. Taking the restrictors out takes about 10 minutes and the removal and refitting of the six 15mm bolts that hold the naughty pipes in place. I put the Boss on a four-post lift to get some pictures, but you could do this lying on your back.

Removing the exhaust restrictors on a Mustang: noise nirvana!

Once out, the Stang's full dose of exhaust gas and noise can flow down the shorter, unsilenced pipes. The cats are upstream, so the car’s emissions are unchanged. But the noise… Oh my dear Lord, the noise. The noise is very different, particularly if you’ve started the car with the special red ‘TracKey’ that gives you the same engine map as the 302R racecar. There’s a loud, lumpy, gutteral idle, and when you crack open the throttle, a deafening, exuberant, unapologetic, virtually unsilenced V8 yell.

God bless the Ford Motor Company. It doesn’t make this mod public, but it has made it easy, knowing word would soon get out. It’s an oddly petrol-headed thing for a big corporation to do, but it goes right to the heart of the Mustang’s appeal: simple, big-hearted, easily-modified fun. If Ford can stay in touch with what makes its cars great and its customers happy, its recovery will continue.

And the Boss in the UK? Still mega. I noticed more roll through our more frequent bends, and a little more agitation from that antiquated live rear axle over mid-corner bumps. But otherwise the Boss was a revelation, again; damn fast, far wieldier than a car of this size or age has a right to be, and with a charisma that just pours out of it, and only seems stronger when it’s the only one on the road.

>> Don't miss Ben Oliver's eight-page adventure drive in the Ford Mustang Boss 302 in the December 2011 issue of CAR

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By Ben Oliver

Contributing editor, watch connoisseur, purveyor of fine features

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