Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
September 1, 1999

Step By Step

View Photo Gallery
P97270_image_largeP97271_image_largeP97272_image_largeP97273_image_large
The entire factory front suspension will need to be removed in order to install the Barts Works SLA suspension. The only factory components to be re-used will be the brake disc and caliper, and the sway bar. Notice how Barts Works suspended the brake caliper. Don’t just let the caliper swing free, the brake lines could be damaged if you do so.
P97274_image_large
The upper A-arm mounts on the flat surface within the wheelwell using the K-member attachments. Loosen only one side of the K-member at a time or the engine will will tilt forward in the engine bay. The pin on the left will be used as the upper coilover attachment.
P97275_image_large
The lower A-arm mounts in the stock location, but uses all Barts Works hardware. Spherical rod ends (Heim joints) are used to attach the lower A-arm to provide excellent freedom of movement. This type of attaching hardware will not bind in hard cornering like factory systems are prone to doing.
P97276_image_large
The Barts Works front suspension moves the sway bar forward using this bracket. As you can see, the two stock sway bar mounting bolts are used while the Barts Works bracket provides one in order to properly mount the sway bar.
P97277_image_large
Once both arms are installed, the coilover shock can now be mounted in place. Barts Works uses Eibach springs in its kit. At the top you can see how the shock attaches to the upper A-arm. There’s a small bracket on the lower A-arm where it attaches at the bottom.
P97278_image_large
Now the spindle can be installed. The spindle mounts in the typical fashion. Notice the construction of the Barts Works components. You can tell these are quality pieces.
P97279_image_large
Here you can see that the conventional tie rod end has been replaced with a spherical rod end. Again, this type of end provides excellent, smooth transitions in steering, along with added steering feel.
P97280_image_large
The sway bar is the last thing needing to be attached before reinstalling the brake components. After the front suspension is completed, bump steer and alignment adjustments can be made.
P97281_image_large
Moving to the rear, we can start removing the factory lower control arms. Notice we also removed the lower shock mounting bolt. We will be replacing the lower control arms, shocks, springs, and adding a Panhard bar kit.
P97282_image_large
With the lower shock bolts removed and the quad shocks loosened at the rear, the axle will drop just a tad. Remove the factory spring by lightly prying on it with a large screwdriver. Make sure it’s not under any kind of tension before you try to remove it or it could go flying.
P97283_image_large
The upper control arms will remain intact and will hold up the rearend while you’re working on other components, but it’s always good to have a jack under the center section just in case.
P97284_image_large
We’re ready to install the lower control arms. The bracket to the left is used to mount the lower control arm, while the one on the right is used to attach the Panhard bar on the passenger’s side.
P97285_image_large
Fit the lower control arm in place and loosely tighten the front mounting bolts. Be sure to use the supplied silicone lube on the bushings prior to installation.
P97286_image_large
Using the supplied hardware, bolt the two brackets to the axlehousing. HP Motorsport recommends using the top mounting hole for road-race applications and the bottom mounting hole for drag-race applications. This car is being set up for road-race duty so the top mounting hole will be used. The top mounting hole is reported to be good for an 85-percent increase in traction over stock, while the lower is more aggressive, supposedly providing traction improvements more than 135 percent over stock.
P97287_image_large
The driver’s side can now be prepared for the new control arm. Follow the same steps as with the passenger’s side. Obviously there will be no Panhard bar mounts on this side as everything will bolt up to the chassis mount on the driver’s side.
P97288_image_large
This is the chassis mount for the Panhard bar. It attaches to the quad shock bolt at the rear, and a supplied bolt is used to attach it at the front.
P97289_image_large
The front of the chassis mount is attached with this bolt. With this ’96 Cobra, we removed the plug and used a pair of tin snips to open up the plug hole so we could attach the bolt to the chassis mount.
P97310_image_large
Once the bolt is securely fastened, use a small hammer to return the sheetmetal to its former state and reinstall the plug back into the trunk pan.
P97311_image_large
Now we can install the brace tube. The brace tube uses the two front fuel tank strap bolts for attaching points. Loosen the passenger’s side fuel tank strap bolt first and thread the bolt only halfway through the flattened end of the brace tube. Then remove the driver’s side fuel tank strap bolt and position the vertical sleeve in the brace tube under the fuel tank strap, securing it with the supplied bolt and flat washer. Don’t fully tighten the mounting bolts at this time.
P97312_image_large
This photo shows the flattened end of the brace tube.
P97313_image_large
Since we’ll be using Koni adjustable shocks, holes were cut in the interior trunk carpet panel so we can adjust the settings with ease.
P97314_image_large
Now we can mount the Panhard bar. Start on the passenger’s side and mount the bar in the axle bracket. Then mount the driver’s side of the Panhard bar once the car is under a load. The Panhard bar must be level for optimum performance.
P97315_image_large
Once everything is in place, including the new shocks and Eibach springs, be sure to go back and reattach all brake lines and tighten all attaching bolts with the car resting on its tires.

The Mustang’s suspension is pretty good for a production car, providing good street handling and a livable ride. Though a ton of fun, the Fox- and SN-95-body Mustangs will easily exhibit tail-wagging tendencies and excessive body roll. Ultimate handling is not that great, as the car is saddled with a strut front suspension and a bind-prone four-link in the back.

Hearing the cry from the public, several companies began to offer suspension packages to address the need for increased handling performance. From the high-tech to the simplest suspension bolt-ons, whatever was needed was at your disposal, provided you had the cash. With the suspension packages on the market today you’re able to turn your Mustang into one devastating canyon carver capable of hanging with, and passing, some of the most potent vehicles on the road.

Recently, we were able to sit in on the installation of one of the trickest Mustang suspensions out there, the Barts Works SLA (Short/Long Arm) front suspension, and an HP Motorsport rear Panhard bar kit and Mega-Bite Jr. rear lower control arms. Both HP Motorsport and Barts Works are staples of the Mustang suspension world and offer quality components to improve the handling of the late-model Mustang. Whether you’re looking to improve straight-line acceleration or you want to attack the curves with more fervor, both companies have a lot to offer the Mustang enthusiast, especially when the products of both are combined, as in this case.

Our project car is a ’96 Cobra that is used for everyday street driving as well as running in several open track events each year. The owner wanted a complete revamp of both the front and rear suspensions, which is the ideal way to improve a Mustang’s handling characteristics. We want to thank Mark Ray of Mark Ray Motorsport in Harrisburg, North Carolina, for the use of his shop for the install. As far as how good the components worked, the owner’s comments speak for themselves. Follow along as we improve this Cobra’s bite.