Thursday Trivia

Thirsday Trivia
Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: Who was the Boss after whom the Boss 302 Mustang was named?
If you think you know the boss answer, make the jump and see if you are correct.
Boss302Perhaps no greater cross-town rivalry has existed than that of Ford and Chevrolet, America’s two bread and butter car makers. The rivalry was most evident in the late 1960s when the two companies engaged in a pony car war with Ford’s originator of that term, the Mustang, going big-valve head to big-valve head with Chevy’s competitor, the Camaro.
Of course in every engagement you have defectors, and in the case of the battle of Sixties Detroit, one of those was Larry Shinoda, who, while at GM had designed the performance Z28 package for the Camaro. Upon his arrival at Ford’s design studios, one of Shinoda’s first jobs was the creation of a new high-output edition of the Mustang, one that like the Z28 would be a qualifier for the Trans Am racing series.
Shinoda wasn’t recruited by Ford, but was brought along with another GM defector, with whom the designer had worked for years and who Shinoda liked and respected. It was that new Ford executive after whom the Boss in Shinoda’s Boss 302 was named.
From How Stuff Works:

GM executive Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen, who used performance to revive Pontiac, defected to become president of Ford in early 1968. He brought along stylist Larry Shinoda, whose work included the Z28 that had unseated Mustang as ’68 and ’69 Trans Am champ. The Mach 1 was among their first efforts, but the most-special ’69 and ’70 Mustangs drew on Shinoda’s nickname for Knudsen, “boss.”

The original designs for the “Trans Am” Mustang were far more messy than the final Boss 302. Shinoda’s efforts focused on cleaning up the design and developing its iconic fender to hood striping, which is identifiable to this day. His experience with race car design (remember the Z28) drew Shinoda to simplify the Mustang’s details, eliminating the car’s side scoops and adopting a front spoiler and rear wing.
Powering the new ‘Stang was Ford’s stalwart thin-wall small block, in 302 cid form. The engine received big port heads from the 351 Cleveland and the largest 4bbl carb used on any Ford. The Boss 302 was rated at 290-bhp, but that was very conservative. A Hurst-topped 4-speed made all those ponies available to the very live rear axle. It’s hard to think of a car company today that might venerate a leader so much so as to name a model after them. Maybe Tesla perhaps? Could a future electric from that company be called the Elon?
Image: Hemmings

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  1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I thought Shinoda was "The Boss." Soooo close…
    <img src=""&gt;

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      Cats on cars. Grrrrrrrr…

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    The Boss 302 may have been a hit, but by the end of 1969, Bunkie was out, fired by Hank the Deuce. Political infighting with other executives like Iacocca led to his downfall, and Shinoda left Ford at the same time. Shinoda went independent and consulted for other carmakers, while Bunkie took over as president of White Motor Corporation, retiring in 1980.

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      Hank the Duece, name sake of the Mustang II?

  3. Batshitbox Avatar

    I call B.S. "Boss" was an adjective used to convey 'awesome', or any variety of superlative. I don't really know if it was a popular term in the late '60s, but I always assumed that was the basis for the name. Anyway, if his nickname was Bunkie, why would he also have the nickname Boss? Maybe Shinoda suggested it and in his own head it was a tribute to Knudsen, but he must have known it would fly as a model name based on its slang meaning.

    1. ReneM Avatar

      Have to agree since apparently boss meaning excellent actually dates back to the 1880s and was revived during the 1950s.

    2. OA5599 Avatar

      I think the truth encompasses your theory and the "correct" answer above.
      Boss was used because of the slang connotation (much like Pontiac's use of the term Judge), but Shinoda did call Knudsen "Boss", and what does it hurt to flatter the guy who hired you?

    3. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      I always thought it was referring to awesome/the top/the best. … or if nothing else, it should refer to Lee iaccoca….

  4. peugeotdude505 Avatar

    So, it wasn't Tony Danza?

  5. OA5599 Avatar

    "The original designs for the “Trans Am” Mustang were far more messy than the final Boss 302. China’s efforts focused on cleaning up the design and developing its iconic fender to hood striping, which is identifiable to this day."
    "China's"?!?!?. Check your spell check.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      You didn't know that Geely was brought into consult on the Trans Am Mustang?

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Speaking of Trans Am Mustangs, YUM.
      <img src=""&gt;
      That's all.

  6. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Boss Hogg, obvs.

  7. NotJustDucky Avatar

    <img src=""&gt;
    Who the f%$k are the Knutsens?