Tom Wilson
September 1, 2004
Photos By: E. John Thawley, III

Climbing into the demonstrator, the first things we noticed were the deeply contoured APC Sport Seats. A welcome nod to this car's drifting and open-track prowess, the new-design seats fitted on the snug side-not unexpected given our now admittedly broad outlook on seating thanks to years of press-junket over-indulgence. Just a few necessary extras were on-hand in the cabin, mainly Crow 3-inch lap belts and an AEM UEGO air/fuel gauge.

A short-throw Roush shifter certainly crisped-up the shifting, but it was clearly the suspension that had stepped up big-time. Given its real-world spring rates, the ride was surprisingly good. The sharp-edged potholes and culverts came through a bit more authoritatively, of course, but without the spine-crushing harshness typically associated with lowered cars. A bit of baby-buggy vertical business is inevitable with shorter, stiffer springs. But in this case, just minor bits of it come through.

Steering precision was perhaps slightly improved, but the big deal was the more eager turn-in and definitely the flatter cornering and control well along the way to the tires' high limits. Driving on the street, we couldn't explore the far ends of the Progress Group's handling, but we did venture deep into enthusiast territory while centrifuging our way through freeway ramps. The tires delivered high grip, and the sway bars and higher spring rendered a flatter stance, but the big, welcome change was the gain in stability as the limit was approached. The rear never stepped out, and even at high g-loads, the front end would answer more steering lock by coming in to the apex, while midcorner corrections were without drama. Progress says the car has tested at 0.95 g lateral acceleration on a 200-foot-diameter skidpad, along with a 65.5-mph posting through the slalom, and we saw no reason to doubt it.

We attribute much of the hard-cornering stability to the trick rear upper control arm bushings-which, similar to the lower arms are greaseable. While we would really need some track time to fully evaluate this system, our initial impression is that this car will hang in there-with precision-either to the limit or close to it.

Combined with the easy spring-shock-bar installation of the Progress Group parts-you don't need the village blacksmith to get this stuff on the car-and a reasonable pricing structure, this is a viable new Mustang suspension. It's designed for daily street driving, with occasional drag or open-track action, so there ought to be plenty of people ready to put it to good use, such as drifting on the way to work.

Drift Report
After two events in this car, Progress Group reports that drifting is not road racing! It's plenty difficult to drive-the pros, as always, make it look easy-and the car setup is slightly different.