The Camaro/Mustang rivalry had begun in 1967 with the introduction of the Chevrolet Camaro by General Motors. The Camaro was the largest threat to the lead Ford had in the "pony car" field, a market segment largely created by Ford with the introduction of the Mustang in mid-year 1964. The performance of the Mustang with 289 and 390 engines was not up to the Camaro, with its small block and big block V8. In an effort to improve the Mustang's image Ford made a 428 Cobra Jet V8 and a Ford Boss 302 engine optional for the 1968 mid-year and 1969 models, respectively.
The 1969–70 Boss 302 (Hi-Po) engine was created in 1968 for the SCCA's 1969 Trans-Am road racing series. Available in the Boss 302 Mustangs of 1969–70, it's a unique Ford small-block engine featuring a thin-wall, high nickel content block casting. It differed substantially from regular 302s, with 4-bolt mains, screw in freeze plugs, and heads using a canted valve design being developed for the planned 351 Cleveland (which debuted the following year). The construction was aided by the two engines sharing a cylinder head bolt pattern, though the Boss 302 heads had to have their coolant passages slightly modified
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