Also at the sharp end, a set of Maximum Motorsports 4-bolt caster/camber plates were added, so that an increased range of suspension adjustment would become available. Most suspension bushings, including sway bar and control arms all around, have been replaced with high performance urethane versions. Out back, the original upper and lower control arms have been replaced with adjustable ones and a panhard bar with chassis brace has been added. Improved stability of the rear axle is the goal here, in particular eliminating sudden bouts of independent rear axle steering. Kenny Brown progressive rate springs were installed on all four corners of the car. This kind of spring provides a reasonable balance between lowering the car to improve handling, and maintaining a streetable ride. When the suspension is at its (new) normal ride height, the spring is reasonably soft. However, as it compresses more the spring becomes stiffer so that the car doesn't bottom out.
Working in conjunction with Stainless Steel Brake Corp., Brooks replaced the front binders with 13-inch rotors and 3-piston calipers. The original rear brakes were left exactly as shipped out of Dearborn Assembly Plant. Rolling stock for the car consists of chromed 17 x 9-inch Cobra R's, fitted with Bridgestone Potenza S03 skins - 245/45-17 in front and 265/40-17 versions out back. Those are for street attire. When heading for the track, John changes over to 2003 OEM Cobra 17 x 9-inch rims, fitted with 275/40-17 Nitto NT01 DOT track tires on all four corners. More recently, the Cobra R's have been replaced with SSR 18 x 9.5-inch rollers and Michelin 285/35-18 tires all around.
Additional responsiveness was found by replacing the original rear axle gears with a set of Ford Motorsport 3.73 cogs, and a Steeda Tri-Ax short shifter was mounted on top of the Tremec T-45 gearbox. The only concessions to helping out the engine involve the exhaust system, where a Bassani 2.5-inch crossover pipe and MagnaFlow 2.5-inch mufflers help the free-revving 32-valve engine reach its peak more easily. On the outside, the Pacific Green convertible remains remarkably unmolested, with only a Saleen S281 rear wing replacing the original. In the cockpit, a pair of Recaro SRD seats replace the original furniture. After all, the extensive efforts to keep the car stable are going to be wasted if the driver is flopping around like a newly caught fish in the bottom of a boat. We're sure you'll agree that, aside from providing an important performance function, these seats are hugely cool as well.
With much of this work done, John began taking the car to open track sessions. Those that saw the car and its performance capacity were suitably impressed. An important balance between high performance and street-friendly objectives had been struck. Based on the response to this Cobra, John started Brooks Performance a year later in September of 2000. Since then, his philosophy of clawing back power losses, rather than tearing into the engine, has resonated with customers. In fact, Mike O'Brien's 1996 Mystic Cobra that we covered recently ("Outer Limits", March 2007, p.74) is one of John's customers.
Today, Brooks Performance offers three levels of suspension performance: Enhanced, Aggressive and Competition. Each has an appropriate customer and John's people work with each to ensure a positive fit with budget, talent level and the vehicle.
Based on previous work that John has done with suspension engineers from several companies, he estimates that up to 19 percent of a Mustang's available power can be recovered using the methods we've covered here. Whether you're talking about retirement funds, or retiring the competition, that's one heck of a return on investment.