Ford Authority

RIP Howard Freers, Legendary Ford Engineer Behind Boss 302

The Ford Mustang Boss 302 is one of the more beloved variants of the iconic pony car, a vehicle that was created with one sole purpose in mind – to dominate Trans Am racing, which necessitated some homologation, and as such, Ford originally offered the Boss 302 back in 1969 and 1970 before resurrecting it for the 2012 and 2013 model years. Sadly for pony car fans and automotive enthusiasts alike, however, the man many know as the “Boss of 302” – Howard Freers – recently passed away at the age of 97.

Ford Mustang Boss 302 Race Car - Exterior 001 - Rear Three Quarters

Howard Freers began his career at The Blue Oval back in 1955 as an assistant supervisor in advanced car engineering, but wound up spending a whopping 33 years with the company, holding various other positions in departments such as development engineering, product evaluation, and body and electrical systems. In 1968, however, when Semon E. “Bunkie” Knudsen took over the reigns as the president of FoMoCo, Freers and Larry Shinoda were tasked with creating a high-performance Mustang inspired by the cars that won the first two Trans Am championships in 1966 and 1967.

Freers went on to play an integral role in developing what would soon be known as the Ford Mustang Boss 302, and the racing version just missed out on winning the 1969 Trans Am championship before taking home the top prize in 1970. Howard Freers wound up retiring from The Blue Oval in 1988, but has been decorated with a wide array of honors over the years, including being named a Society of Automotive Engineers Fellow (1982), Distinguished Senior Member (1996), Engineering Society of Detroit Fellow (1974), Eminent Engineer-Tau Beta Pi (1978), and he also received an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Rose-Hulman in 1990.

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 - Exterior 001 - Rear Three Quarters

“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.”

We’ll have more on the Boss 302 soon, so be sure to subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Mustang news and continuous Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Ed

    RIP sir.


    What a great guy. Part of the greatest generation. You can tell he lived and loved the job. To even have a Ford club in the nursing home !!!! RIP you created a legend and you are one !

  3. CWJ

    So sorry to hear,,,he and Mose Nowland….were part of a legacy at Ford….Total Performance Days…..really admire was exciting time to be a car engineer

  4. Pete G.

    Mr. Freers was the best of the best!!
    Job well done!!
    RIP Sir.


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