Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford have all reached into their time machines to bring back nostalgia-laden trim levels of their 1960s and ’70s cars. Usually, thanks to dedicated brand managers and engineers, the results are worthy of the name. Think of the Camaro ZL1, Dodge Demon (even though it was never a Challenger), and the numerous variants of Mustang: Bullitt, GT350, GT500, Mach 1, and the Boss 302.
The 2012 Mustang Boss 302 and the racier Boss 302 Laguna Seca were immediate hits. Before the S550-generation Mustang debuted in 2015 and the 5.2-liter GT350 was unleashed, the Boss 302 represented the pinnacle of track-ready Mustangs. When it comes to solid-axle Mustangs, it didn’t get much better.
Differentiating the Boss 302 from the already impressive GT is a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 that takes the Coyote platform to its next evolution with camshafts that provide additional lift and duration, CNC-ported cylinder heads for improved airflow, and a mean dual exhaust with unique resonators. It also got a new, taller intake that’s built with higher-rpm performance in mind. The fact that it looks cool is just a bonus.
While the standard GT produced 412 horsepower for 2012, the Boss 302 churned out 444 ponies and remained the most powerful naturally-aspirated Mustang 5.0-liter until the 2018 Mustang GT was upgraded to 460 hp. Of course, there is the 5.2-liter Voodoo V-8 in the GT350 with its 525 hp.
As an homage to the 1969 and ’70 Boss 302s that competed in SCCA Trans-Am racing, the latest iteration of the Boss 302 wasn’t just about power, it also got an oil cooler and track-ready oil pan to handle high-cornering loads and a lowered ride height with adjustable suspension. In Ford fashion, you could get the Boss 302 with any transmission you wanted, as long as it was a six-speed manual.
Turning the Boss 302 up to 11 was the Laguna Seca package, which ditched the rear seats for some chassis bracing and included racing tires, Recaro seats, and a Torsen limited slip, the latter of the two optional on the standard Boss 302. Both cars delivered tremendous track fun in packages you could buy with a warranty at any Ford dealership, and enthusiast publications agreed that they lived up to their name. Their popularity and collectability today back that up and the 2012–13 Mustang Boss 302 currently holds a strong Hagerty Vehicle Rating of 77.
[Editor’s Note: The Hagerty Vehicle Rating, based on a 0–100 scale, considers the number of vehicles insured and quoted through Hagerty, along with auction activity and private sales results. A vehicle that is keeping pace with the overall market has an HVR of 50. Ratings above 50 show above-average interest; vehicles with a sub-50-point rating are lagging in the market. The HVR is not an indicator of future collectability, but it says a lot about what’s trending hot and what’s not.]
If you’re shopping for one of these street/track toys, keep in mind that the Laguna Seca variant carries a 22-percent premium over standard Boss 302s.
“Surprisingly, even though these are relatively new cars, older buyers prefer them disproportionately,” Newton adds. “This might have something to do with the relatively high price.”
It also suggests buyers perhaps wanted to add a newer Boss 302 to their collection in addition to—or in lieu of—a 1969 Boss 302. Either way, mid-$30,000s for that much fun on the track still seems like a good bargain.