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One Sick 700-Plus-Horsepower Laguna Seca Boss 302
Planned Pursuit: Charles Baker Prepared the Perfect Pony for Maximum Entertainment
In the last 50 years, Ford’s iconic Mustang has captivated enthusiasts worldwide. We have seen Stangs in movies, on TV, and at the track. You can find them prancing across the country in car shows virtually every single weekend. For Mustang maniacs, however, simply owning a Pony isn’t enough. The real fun comes from adding power and personalization. You know, modding your Mustang with the parts and pieces that will set it apart from the herd.
Lieutenant Charles Baker of the Charles County Sheriff’s office in Maryland knows the drill. A full-on gearhead since age 14, Baker found his way to the Ford camp after being fascinated with Fox-body Mustangs, decades ago. “I first had a 1987 5.0L and then a 1991,” Baker says. “Both were GTs, and both went from stock to full bolt-on cars. My wife actually raced the ’91 at the track one night, beating my best friend.”
But life moved fast for Baker, who was building a family and a career. Sadly, the Fox-body Stang was swapped for a Ford F-150 truck that would prove invaluable in moving people and the lumber for the home he was constructing. All moved in, he got into boating, but life on the water didn’t captivate him like those fast Fords. Boating didn’t last long. Soon the call for land-based performance got Charles thinking about another Mustang.
Baker skipped the SN-95 models and found a clean 2005 Mineral Gray Supercharged Saleen. “I liked the look of the Fox-body, but I wanted something more modern and I wanted something different,” he tells us. “They made less than two dozen 2005 Supercharged Saleen Mustangs in Mineral Gray, so it was kind of rare. It was a nice car, and I gave it a power boost and added a T-56 Magnum.”
But while the 4.6L Three-Valve was plenty potent, the call of the wild had Baker craving Coyote power.
He says, “A very good friend got into a 2011 5.0L Mustang GT, and once I drove it I fell in love. That engine is so much better. The Saleen was a nice car, but for my eventual plans, the 5.0L was a better fit. Plus, I wanted to go black again.”
The hunt was on for a new 5.0; however, the 2011-2012 styling was knocking him over. “I liked the GT, but knew the Boss 302 was way better, but I didn’t like any of the color combinations.”
But that changed when Ford restyled the Mustang for 2013. Baker says, “I really liked the bullet-nose look on the 2013 Mustangs, and as soon as I saw one the decision was made to find a Boss 302.”
He also wanted black, which meant finding a limited-edition Laguna Seca model.
“When I saw the Black and Silver combination I knew that’s what I wanted to go with,” he says. “[The Boss 302] has a beefier engine from the factory and so many more options that it was an easy choice. I searched the internet and found this one in North Carolina. Of course, the agreement with my wife was that I’d leave the car alone and not get carried away modding it.”
Baker continues, “Initially, I did some engine dress-up with hydro-dipping and airbrushing to go along with the painted coil covers I had. Well, that lasted for a short while before it was dropped off for the first of many visits to Revolution Automotive.”
Rev Auto started with headers and exhaust mods, along with a one-piece driveshaft. Then came the power upgrades by way of a Paxton 2200 supercharger and a custom tune. Baker says, “I heard great things about the Paxton in terms of power production and drivability for the cost, and it has not disappointed.” He also went with a smaller (3.47-inch) drive pulley of eight-rib design for extra grip under boost.
The Boss mill also benefits from a Steeda cold-air kit, NGK plugs, Injector Dynamics ID1000 injectors, and TSS billet oil pump gears, plus JBA 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers mated to a JBA X-style exhaust with Roush mufflers. “I love the high revving,” says Baker. “I couldn’t rev most of my older cars, but this thing constantly pulls and it doesn’t stop, and that’s when it was stock. With the blower it’s amazing!”
Baker continues, “I started out showing it locally at cruises and shows, but I live seven or eight minutes from [Maryland International Raceway], so it was only a matter of time before I took it down the track. I have only run 10.97 so far, but it’s trapping 133 mph—it’s got a lot more in it.”
The 10-second runs have come with Mickey Thompson ET drags on polished Race Stars (15x10 back and 17x4 in the front).
Underneath, the Boss was fitted with a Steeda tubular radiator support, Ford Performance K springs, BMR antiroll bars, and Viking double-adjustable rear shocks. Baker also welded the axle tubes, added a Swarr rear support bar, and swapped in Strange axles. The MT-82 six-speed was fortified by Revolution Automotive, and while it was out, the guys added a McLeod RTX twin-disc clutch with a lightened flywheel. Upon reassembly, they added a MGW shifter to help Baker grab gears with precision. Other mods include a JPC line-lock, an MSD two-step rev limiter, Whiteline trans bushings, and a stainless steel clutch line.
Over the winter Baker plans to shave weight with a tubular K-member, and he’s looking for more power with a JPC return-style fuel system. He currently runs a mix of Sunoco 93 with a racing additive, but “it’s right on the edge, so I’m going with a return-style system that can support over 800 hp at the wheels,” he says.
“I don’t drive it every day. It’s more of a fun weekend warrior. On my days off I bring it out for Cars and Coffee and go to the track quite a bit.”
Speaking of daily drivers, Baker’s is an unmarked Ford Police Interceptor, which is basically an AWD Taurus set up for the rigors of law enforcement. He also drives a 2016 F-150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost, which serves as a tow rig for the Boss for trips to events like Mustang Week and Cruisn’ OC at Ocean City, and to Maple Grove Raceway for the American Muscle car show. McLeod Clutches has used the Boss as a display vehicle at various events.
On the street, Baker runs the stock Laguna wheels with Nitto drag radials out back, but future upgrades will include Weld’s hot RT-S wheels. Revolution Automotive is also going to dial in the suspension so that Baker can take advantage of the 133-mph quarter-mile trap speed and drop into the mid- to low 10s.
While the Boss may seem understated, the Black Laguna pulls in crowds with its array of sinister underhood art. “I’ve always had an affinity for skulls,” says Baker. “I figured out some images that I liked, and I got with Venom Hydro Graphics. They did the artwork. It’s a combination of hydro-dipping and airbrush work that gives us the look. It really catches your attention when I pop the hood, and it ties in with the polished blower. Everything under there meshes. It’s a best of both worlds. The car will fly, and when you stop and open it up it draws a crowd.”
Baker’s most recent addition is a Tial Q 50mm BOV with a JPC custom relocation pipe. “The kit moves it behind the bumpe,r and when you hear it you know what’s coming down the road. It really sounds good coming up between shifts.”
Since the Boss is mostly complete, Baker decided to get back to his Mustang roots. He purchased a 1993 Mustang coupe that he is building with his son, Garrett. The duo has already engaged in a few father-versus-son showdowns, but running 13.0, the little 1993 can’t really compete. To make it a fair fight, the engine was yanked and they are planning a 331-cube stroker build.
Building Mustangs has been a family affair for the Bakers, and Charles couldn’t have accomplished his goals without family and friends. He was adamant about thanking his friends Dasan Holloway, Joe Letourneau and Adam Browne and his team at Revolution Automotive. Most of all he thanks his wife Heather, his son, and his dad, who started the ball rolling with those early lessons in horsepower.