Evan J. Smith
Mustang360 Network Content Director
March 24, 2014
Photos By: Marc Christ

These are wonderful times. It seems each year, Ford, Chevy and Dodge set a new mark for American muscle with a slathering of high-performance packages.

This provides buyers a multitude of options. There are screaming colors, sick power and even cars designed to go straight to the track. Clearly, the '12-'13 Boss 302 Mustangs were a hit—they packed enough retro to satisfy the purists and enough grunt to keep modern Mustang fans thrilled—well, most of them.

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Ford offered this brute with a fearsome 444hp, naturally aspirated engine with more horsepower than any non-supercharged Ford ever built. Ford also offered a special edition Laguna Seca with improved handling. But still, there are enthusiasts craving the next level.

That's where the crafty folks at Steeda Autosports stepped in to kick one in the tail—and in doing so they improved the Boss for street and track use. "The mindset to do the Boss was that Ford already builds a super car," said Dario Orlando, president of Steeda. "So we wanted to take it to the next level with our coilovers and Watt's link," he added.

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"But you don't want to sacrifice ride quality or create NVH on a car like this, or any car," he stated. "You can adjust the corner weights easily for better street performance or for any track. You can weight-jack the car or adjust the dampers, as there are 18 positions on the front and 6 on the rear."

Up front is Steeda's coilover kit, which uses Tokico D-Spec dampers and spring rates designed for all-around performance. To enhance the rear suspension, Steeda went with a Watt's link, one which it designed and tested for optimum performance.

"We spent over a year developing our Watt's link," Orlando stated. "We didn't ruin the integrity of the rear [housing] by attaching the Watt's link to it. As the axle mount position of a Panhard bar rises and falls with suspension motion, the axle moves laterally with respect to the chassis due to the arc described by the Panhard bar's rotation. This, in effect, binds the suspension, preventing it from moving to where load transfer and geometry would like it to be. Therefore, the lower the amount of movement, the better."

"A Watt's linkage nearly eliminates lateral motion in the middle of its operating range," explained Glen Vitale of Steeda. "This reduced amount of lateral motion allows the suspension to react to cornering forces in a more consistent manner. The wheels will be able to track the road more consistently. From a driver's view, the axle will feel better controlled when encountering a bump or dip during a turn. The rear end will feel more connected and stable to the chassis. Because the lateral movement is near zero, the left versus right turn dynamics are effectively the same. Another minor point is that since the axle locates consistently between the wheel wells, a slightly larger tire can be used without fear of rubbing."

In setting up the suspension, Orlando noted the adjustability and how tunable the system of parts can be. "Our rear roll center is fully adjustable. When you raise and lower the roll center you can control body roll and dial in understeer and oversteer. But truly, the customer has to experience it by adjusting it themselves," he added. "Everyone has a different driving style. We offer the components so you can adjust your car to your specific likes. We're not violating the differential system. Attaching [suspension components] to it is bad because it can load the rear cover with torque from the suspension. This puts forces on the diff cover, which can cause a failure."

To give the Boss a meaner look, the stance is lowered and Steeda added HRE P44SC Monoblok billet aluminum wheels (20x9.5 and 20x11 inches), and the rubber that meets the road is grippy Nitto NT05s sized in 275/35ZR20 and 315/35ZR20s.

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Tracking The Boss

We put the Steeda Boss Laguna Seca through its paces on a scorcher of a day at Palm Beach International Raceway in Palm Beach, Florida. The 2.034-mile, 11-turn road course is perfect for testing, and enabled us to push the limits of the black beast.

Team MM&FF is always up for a track test, so we jumped at the chance to board this Pony and let it ride. The high-winding Boss mill was enhanced with a Steeda cold-air inlet and a performance calibration. This bumped output to 412 rwhp and provided a nice enhancement at the touch of the electronic throttle pedal.

After a few warm-up laps, we slapped the Pony in the tail and the next 30 minutes brought pure enjoyment. The Steeda-ized Boss was fast, and really easy to drive at the limit. "We tuned our front lower control arms to the EPAS to eliminate shake and we installed a bump steer kit to parallel the lower arm to the tie rod end," said Orlando. "We also added a strut mount (caster/camber plate) with a flat needle bearing isolated in urethane to give you a better ride, along with virtually eliminating steering knock-back." What I found was quick and comfortable feel and turn-in, and a nice balance in the corners and under braking.

Any complete car will have a suspension designed as one system and Steeda's also includes an adjustable upper third-link in the rear, Tokico D-Spec dampers, billet lower trailing arms with relocation brackets, X11 ball joints up front, a Steeda bumpsteer kit, and a competition front and rear adjustable sway bar. This Boss also included a Tri-Ax shifter and enhanced shifter bracket bushing, high-output coils, a billet oil separator, and an axle-back exhaust.

While the Steeda ate up the PBIR track, we found it to be friendly on the public highways, providing a seriously sporty ride that was livable for daily driving. "After a day at the track, you can simply adjust the dampers to a softer setting for the street that offers a compliant, comfortable ride," Orlando adds.