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FEB 22, 2024 | By Chris Kassab / @Ford Online

Mustang Enthusiasts Mourn The Passing Of Howard Freers, 97 – ‘The ‘Boss Of 302’

Boss 302 Mustang

NOVI, Mich. – Howard Freers, who many enthusiasts may remember as the “Boss of 302,” died on January 30. He was 97 years old.Image of Howard Freers

“He was a true-blue Ford guy,” said David Freers of his father. “He was always talking about the company and keeping track of news. He even ran a Ford club at the senior living facility where he lived for almost 11 years. He would compile Ford articles and other titbits of information he could collect from his engineering friends and then read them aloud to a group of very interested senior citizens for one hour each month.”Rear end of Boss 302 with man standing next to it

Freers spent 33 years at Ford. He began his career in 1955 as an assistant supervisor in advance car engineering and held a variety of positions throughout the years in development engineering, product evaluation as well as body and electrical systems. He became executive engineer in 1962 and two years later was assigned to light cars in Ford Division’s Product Engineering office. He was named chief engineer for powertrain systems in 1967 and a year later was appointed chief engineer for light and luxury cars.Boss 302 on track black and white

In early 1968, Semon E. “Bunkie” Knudsen was named president of Ford Motor Company and Larry Shinoda joined the design staff. Knudsen was a strong believer that performance could help sell more cars, and soon after his arrival Shinoda and Freers were assigned to create an even higher performance Mustang. The new model would be inspired by the cars that won the first two Trans-Am championships in 1966 and 1967.Boss mustang black and white image

Freers’ determination and passion for innovation led him to become an integral part of the development of the iconic Boss 302 Mustang, earning him the title of the “Boss of 302.” The 1969½ Mustang Boss 302, widely regarded as one of the most legendary Mustangs ever, debuted in March of 1969, just short of five years after the original Mustang. Race-prepared versions of the Boss 302 generated an estimated 450 horsepower with dual four-barrel carburetors, and just missed out on the 1969 Trans-Am championship before winning again in 1970.Parnelli Jones Mustang

From 1971 to his retirement in 1988, Freers held chief engineer roles in Powertrain, Body & Electrical and Engineering & Technical Services.Black and white image of Boss 302

Freers’ commitment and contributions to the automotive world were recognized with honors such as the Society of Automotive Engineers Fellow (1982), Distinguished Senior Member (1996), Engineering Society of Detroit Fellow (1974), Eminent Engineer-Tau Beta Pi (1978), and an Honorary Doctor of Engineering from Rose-Hulman in 1990. Freers was a trustee and member of the Board of Managers for Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology from 1971 to the time of his passing. Boss 302 Race car

Funeral services were held last week in Michigan.

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