Mustang MonthlyHow To Chassis Suspension
Fox Handling Upgrades, Part 1 - Front Suspension
Thrust your ’79-’93 Mustang into the 21st century with real performance solutions from Maximum Motorsports
Utter coolness is the huge availability of Fox classic '79-'93 Mustangs because these Jack Telnack–inspired rides are plentiful and cheap in all their many forms. This supply-and-demand arithmetic makes it possible for you to get into a Fox Mustang for not that much money, which frees up cash to upgrade your Mustang anyway you'd like.
Too many of us put the cart before the horse, so to speak. We build high-horsepower engines, but forget the importance of safely managing that kind of power with good brakes and suspension first, if at all! Safety first, fun and games next. Few companies know more about great Mustang handling than Maximum Motorsports. Founded in 1992 and dedicated primarily to late-model Mustang performance, Maximum Motorsports knows Fox, SN-95, and S197 Mustangs and what it takes to get great handling from these cars.
Gil Roiz of Mustangs Etc. in Van Nuys, California, understands Fox Mustangs like few others. He loves them and races them. His daily driver is a worn to the bone '89 Mustang GT convertible he snapped up for a “get it out of my driveway” $500. In baby steps, Roiz has been making his GT convertible more enjoyable to drive with a new Flowmaster exhaust system, BBK shorty headers, an aluminum driveshaft, a Centerforce clutch and flywheel, and now the suspension system. Roiz specifically asked for a complete Maximum Motorsports suspension package, including subframe connectors and ultimately a torque arm just to demonstrate how good it can get.
We did a baseline handling test with Roiz's GT and its original worn-out suspension system. It was disturbing how bad it was. Bushings that were shot, ball joints with excessive play, and struts and shocks that no longer dampened. At press time, Roiz's Mustang has been completely retrofitted with Maximum Motorsports components fore and aft. The difference in handling—and safety—is extreme, to put it mildly. He's thrilled.
Next month, we will continue our Maximum Motorsports suspension upgrade with subframe connectors and a complete rear suspension package along with a road test to get Roiz's observations. Once we have completed the first round of Maximum Motorsports suspension upgrades, we're going to install a torque arm, and upgrade to five-lug disc brakes at all four corners.
|Maximum Motorsports Suggested Alignment Specifications|
|Caster Setting Street||Caster Setting Race||Camber Setting Street||Camber Setting Race|
|Factory K-Member||3-4 Degrees||Maximum Positive||0.75 degrees Negative + or - 0.25 degrees||3.00 degrees Negative depending upon track|
|Maximum Motorsports K-Member||4 Degrees||6-8 Degrees||.75 degrees Negative + or - 0.25 degrees||3.00 degrees Negative depending upon track|
01. When Ford introduced the Fox Mustang in the fall of 1978, it was a quantum leap in handling thanks to McPherson strut/coil spring front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and rear four-link underpinnings. Time and technology have passed the Fox up, making it necessary to get these popular classic Mustangs into the 21st century. Maximum Motorsports has the knowledge and sophisticated suspension systems to get you there.
02. The first things Gil does is check ride height at all four corners and writes the measurement on the fender using a section of painter’s tape.
03. First, support the vehicle with jackstands at the framerails. Then, use a floor jack for adjustable suspension support. Remember, coil springs pack a tremendous amount of pressure. They can maim and kill. Use extreme caution when supporting the control arm and removing the coil spring. Never put yourself in the spring’s path.
04. Antisway bar endlinks are disconnected next before removing strut bolts and lowering the control arm.
05. Tie-rod ends are disconnected by removing the cotter pin first and then the castle nut. Roiz uses an impact hammer to jar the press-fit tie-rod end loose. Alternatively you can give the spindle eye a few well-placed hits with a large hammer to free the tie-rod end.
06. With the control arm properly supported with a floor jack, both McPherson strut to spindle retaining bolts are removed using an air impact. Using the floor jack previously placed under the control arm, gently lower the control arm paying very close attention to the coil spring.
07. After the control arm is lowered as far as it will go the coil spring can be displaced from the control arm spring pocket with a large breaker bar. The spring will “pop” out but very little pressure is on the spring at this point.
08. The McPherson strut can now be removed from the strut tower. Note this Mustang already had an adjustable caster/camber plate. We’re going to fit it with a fully adjustable caster/camber plate from Maximum Motorsports.
09. The control arm is removed with a 15/16-inch socket and boxed end wrench in preparation for new urethane bushings and an upgraded ball joint. The spindle and control arm together have some weight so be prepared for it. If you wish you can separate the spindle from the control arm before control arm removal.
10. Here we have the complete Maximum Motorsports Starter Box front suspension kit (PN SBX-1) for ’79-’89 Mustangs. There are also complete Starter Box kits for ’90-’93 (PN SBX 2), ’94-’98 Mustang (PN SBX-3), and ’99-’04 (PN SBX-04). All are priced around $1,200. You can expect improved handling, quicker response, lower ride height, reduced body roll, a firmer ride, and crisp steering.
11. With the Maximum Motorsports Starter Box, we’re using the existing Ford control arms with new urethane bushings and ball joints. Factory control arms are very strong pieces and work well on a budget. Stiffen them up with urethane bushings to improve handling and durability.
12. New Maximum Motorsports ball joints are pressed into factory control arms and lubed with heavy-duty chassis lube.
13. Gil Roiz and his son, Ryan, install the rebuilt control arms. These Maximum Motorsports–modified control arms will hold alignment better and improve handling because of the firmer bushings.
14. Maximum Motorsports Road & Track coil springs are fitted with new rubber insulators at both ends. Bottoms get slide-on insulators while tops get rubber cushions. The spring is fitted into the crossmember pocket and control arm, then, a floor jack is used to raise the control arm and secure the spring.
15. Bilstein struts are shimmed as shown prior to installation, which controls overall strut length. Maximum Motorsports calls for a total of four spacers on each strut with a 0.048-inch and 0.024-inch spacer below the caster/camber plate and 0.048-inch and 0.024-inch spacer above. Check strut to hood clearance before slamming hood.
16. Tighten the strut’s locking nut as shown using an Allen wrench to secure the strut shaft. The Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plate allows plenty of alignment freedom. When proper alignment is achieved, torque the 3/8-inch lock nuts to 32 ft-lb. The ½-inch lock nuts get 65 ft-lb.
17. This is the Four-Point K-Member Brace, which is actually part of the Chassis Brace Package for the ’86-’93 Mustang convertible (PN MCBP-13). This is an easy bottom-end bolt-on that strengthens the K-member and frontend package. It works with the strut tower brace located on top.
18. Maximum Motorsports has provided us with urethane sway bar bushings and endlinks designed to stiffen sway bar function and reduce body lean. You may order the optional Eibach sway bar package (front and rear) that provides a marked improvement in control. Roiz is using antiseize on urethane bushings for quiet operation.
19. The Maximum Motorsports strut tower brace works with the K-member support brace to reduce front end flex considerably and provide rigidity under spirited driving. Installation requires drilling mounting holes in both the strut towers and the firewall to secure the brace.