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Ouzz with the rush of the intake, the exhaust system really envelops the driver inV-8 sound."

Beyond just the engine mods. Ford engineers also barkened back to the Boss 302's road racing lineage by turning to Ford Racing to help with the development of the car. They essentially used the Boss 302R race cars as hidden-in-plain-sight test cars, and achieved great results.

"Ford Racing had challenged the Boss engine team to give them the first available Boss 302 engines," explains Mike Harrison, FordV-8 engine program manager. "They came to us in August 2009 and told us they needed engines as soon as possible to build a limited number of Ford Racing Boss 302R cars for the January Daytona race.They got the engines 12 weeks later, and the team got five Boss 302R cars prepped for the January race. This gave us a fantastic opportunity to get full-on race experience with the engine early in the program."

Of course, the modifications didn't stop with the drivetrain as Ford engineers revamped the traction control, brakes, wheels, tires, and aerodynamics with an eye toward maximum performance, but an ear toward reliability. Perhaps most noticeable to lucky Boss 302 drivers will be the adjustable suspension that allows dialing the car in for the street or the track.

"We've given drivers five settings for their shocks," says Brent Clark, supervisor of the Mustang vehicle dynamics team. "One is the softest, two is the factory setting, and five is the firmest, and we've provided a wide range of adjustment. A customer can drive to the track on setting two, crank it up to five for improved response on the track, then dial down to one for a more relaxed ride home.

"What's unique is that drivers will find—thanks to the way the suspension works as a complete system—the softest setting isn't too loose and the firmest setting isn't too controlled; each step just provides additional levels of control."

Obviously these are some impressive rides that we can't wait to experience, and Ford is undeniably proud of its efforts. Essentially, Ford says the sum of the parts is the real secret to Boss performance. Don't plan on achieving it piecemeal.

"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 Boss 302 isn't something a Mustang GT owner can buy all the parts for out of a catalog or 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."

Steal the Show

Having attended SEMA for several years now, we can assure you that there's a vehicle at each show that is obviously embraced more than its brethren by the automotive aftermarket. Last year was big one on the show floor for the Mustang's archnemesis, the Camaro.This year we have a pretty good feeling about the 'II 5.0 Mustang.

The trends are usually pretty consistent with which cars are a big hit with consumers. In order to capture that vibe in the form of an award, this year the SEMA show exhibitors will select the winners in three categories—Hottest Car, Hottest Truck, and Hottest 4x4-SUV.

"The SEMA Award allows us to celebrate the outstanding vehicles and trends in the specialty-parts industry. We will be able to tap into the exhibitors' unique ability to identify what's hot just as the trends are gaining momentum," said Chris Kersting, SEMA president and CEO."While the concept is new, it really is based on a phenomenon that we've experienced many times before. Each year there seems to be a handful of vehicle models that set the tone for the show—vehicles that are so popular it seems they are dominating at the event."

Ford has a vehicle in the running for each category, with the F-150 in the truck category, the Explorer in the 4X4-SUV category, and the Mustang in the car category. Essentially the vehicle that is in the most show booths will take home the big prize.

Winners will be announced during the 2010 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada (www.semashow.com). Of course, if the Mustang wins, you can expect big ups on our website and right here on these pages.

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