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1992 Ford Mustang LX - Maximum Iron
This California-based company chose the American Iron arena to test its new products.
What is this car feature about? It's about a car. And two very hot models. It's about putting new performance products to the ultimate test through racing. And two very hot models. It's about consumers getting great, high-quality products that work. And two very hot models.
Maximum Motorsports of San Luis Obispo, California, picked up this bare shell from an insurance auction for a mere $500. Oddly enough the car belonged to MM employee Jack Hidley and had been stolen. The thieves left nothing but the sheetmetal behind.
Over the next 16 months, the MM crew put the Mustang back together again using parts straight from their shelves. The goal was to build a car to compete in the National Auto Sport Association's American Iron class. AI happens to be one of the hottest racing classes around, and it is the perfect place for Maximum Motorsports to test current and future products under the harsh environment that is a racetrack.
Obviously the foundation of this '92 LX is the suspension. The heavy front K-member was ditched in favor of a lightweight tubular unit that employs SN95-length, tubular A-arms which feature forward offset geometry. Adjustable tie rod ends and caster camber plates allow maximum adjustability for optimum frontend alignments. Since noise, vibration and harshness levels are the least of the team's concerns, aluminum steering rack bushings and a solid steering shaft give the driver direct feedback from the road.
Full-length subframe connectors were the obvious chassis-tightening choice and work in conjunction with a strut tower brace and a NASA-spec rollcage to keep the LX stiff and hard. Working toward the back of the car, MM installed its torque arm and panhard bar along with an adjustable rear sway bar. Aluminum rear lower control arms suspend the rear axle and a complete coilover conversion utilizing Bilstein dampers and Hypercoil springs suspends the Mustang.
Good braking is endlessly important in road racing as repeated stops at speed can liquefy stock brake pads and boil ordinary brake fluid. To that end, a manual brake conversion along with StopTech four-piston calipers and 13-inch two-piece rotors withstand the rigors of apex annihilation at the front, while Baer PBR calipers and 12-inch rotors rest at the rear. Hawk race compound pads last the duration, as do the Toyo Proxes RA-1 tires that have been shaved. Maximum Motorsport's own 17x9-inch Konig Villain wheel package offers enough room for the big brake system, while maintaining a svelte 21-pound profile.
Inside, the business area has been treated to a Kirkey race seat and Auto Meter gauges. A Momo removable steering wheel and Crow safety harness are used, and the interior is lovingly upholstered in gray paint.
Motivating this rolling testbed is an American Iron-spec, small-block Ford 306 cubic inches in size. Strong Eagle rods swing Keith Black pistons from a stock 5-liter crankshaft. Built by Walton Racing in Upland, California, the short-block was topped off with Edelbrock Performer cylinder heads that have been given a three-angle valve job. A Comp Cams hydraulic roller bumpstick and Pro Magnum roller rockers actuate the 2.02/1.60 valve combination. A Holley Systemax intake manifold, Accufab 75mm throttle body and Pro-M meter introduce atmosphere to the engine, while BBK long-tube headers, a Dr. Gas X-pipe and Magnaflow mufflers spit the spent mixture.
McLeod was sourced for an aluminum flywheel and pressure plate, along with a solid disc hub, and a T-5 five-speed gearbox is used to send the pavement corner-carving 288 hp and 323 ft-lb of torque back to a 3.55-geared, Torsen diff'd 8.8 axle.
Despite the "Iron" in the name of the class, the hood, front fascia and spoiler are carbon-fiber pieces from Maier Racing in Hayward, California. Maximum Motorsports fabricated the custom front splitter, the steel fender flares and that crazy-looking, but functional, rear wing element. MM employees Sean Dinneen, Chris Artac and Ron Horowitz took care of the body mods and applied the custom-mixed yellow hue and additional striping.
Maximum Motorsports proprietor Chuck Schwynoch offered Mike Croutcher the driving honors as Mike ventured into the American Iron arena in 2001 and was the wheel man of the company's last "shop" car.
The Mustang's inaugural outing had it qualifying third in Saturday's event. Croutcher passed for second place and was closing in on first when third gear exited stage left. Despite being a front runner for that race, things didn't look good as the team did not have a spare trans. Later in the day, NASA official and MM customer Ryan Flaherty offered his gearbox, but it was three hours away.
John Dempsey and Ehren Van Schmus jetted while Schwynoch, Hidley and John Fabry pulled the spent T-5 out. While the birds were chirping on Sunday morning, the MM crew awoke to a new transmission sitting next to the car. Installed and test driven, the Maximum Motorsports number 91 entry was ready to go by 8:15 a.m. and just in time for the race warm-up session.
Croutcher qualified second and traded for the lead a few times during the race. He overdrove the pony trying to regain the lead and succumbed to second place when the flag fell. Still, the MM crew deemed the weekend a success, and now has an awesome platform to wring out its latest suspension creations.
"The Maximum Motorsports modifications elevate the handling of this car to a world-class level," said Chuck Schwynoch. "On test days this car passes Corvettes, Vipers and BMWs. It is extremely easy to drive fast, is very predictable and extremely forgiving," noted Chuck.
And then there's the two very hot models. We'd be surprised you made it this far.
Sandee Westgate and Amanda Lex