Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
August 1, 2000

Step By Step

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Southside Machine’s tubular K-member is a bolt-together unit that removes at least 23 pounds from your Mustang’s frontend. A removable centersection allows for bottom-end inspections and oil-pump maintenance without removing the engine. Try that with a stock K-member.
To begin the K-member swap, all other frontend components except for the struts must be removed. Here, Jimmy White of Xtreme Custom Paint & Body loosens the struts from the spindle using an impact wrench.
Carefully remove the front spring and let the lower control arm and front brake assembly hang out of the way. It isn’t necessary to remove the front struts in the process of installing the K-member.
Use a jack to hold up the K-member while loosening the attaching nuts and bolts. Leave a couple of them loosely attached until you can loosen the other side as well. Removing the K-member is a two-man job, so have someone keep an eye on it as you remove the attaching nuts and bolts.
With the K-member out from underneath the car, remove the lower control arm and brake assembly and put them aside.
Once all the bolts have been removed, lower the K-member and make sure to loosen the rack-and-pinion if the hoses are still attached to the pump.
Where does the weight savings come from? This photo shows you. A tubular K-member means less weight and added header clearance. We’ve installed the solid motor mounts for this photo as well.
With the K-member dismantled, attach one side at a time. When removing the stock K-member, don’t throw out the old nuts and bolts. Some of them will be reused with the Southside unit.
With each side installed, the frontend components can now be reinstalled.
The Southside K-member attached with little drama. The only special tool needed was a spring compressor to reinstall the front springs. Now we just have to wait for Jimmy to install a hot small-block to take advantage of his GT’s newfound weight savings.
Turning our attention to the rearend, Xtreme’s Mark Wahrmann loosens the rear shock in preparation for swapping out the upper and lower control arms.
With the car still up on jackstands, remove the sway bar and lower control arm and install the Southside Lift Bar in its place. Mark is fitting the supplied plastic washer in place to keep road noise to a minimum. Don’t tighten the control arms until the car’s weight is back on the rearend.
With the lowers loosely attached, remove the stock uppers.
Both the Southside upper and lower feature grease fittings to keep squeaking to a minimum. You can also see the placement of the plastic washer in this photo. Remember, do not tighten anything fully until the weight of the car is back on the rearend.
Using a magnetic protractor or similar pinion-angle measurement tool, make sure the pinion is at the proper angle—2-3 degrees positive—before tightening the bolts on the control arms.
With the lower Lift Bars, you have the option of welding them in place or locating them using nuts and bolts through both the control arm bracket and the rearend. Jimmy has chosen to weld them in place, but we use this photo to illustrate how to go about using nuts and bolts. Southside Machine supplies the nuts and bolts for this operation if you choose to go that route. Welding the arms in place provides a sturdier rearend setup.
With the weight of the car back on the rearend, Jimmy tightens all the attaching nuts and bolts and reattaches the rear shocks and sway bar.

There are two things other than horsepower that directly impact how fast your Mustang is—weight and traction. If you own a GT convertible automatic (the heaviest and slowest Mustang), you’re carrying around a lot of weight and it takes more horsepower to pull that thing around. Consequently, if you’ve devoted all your Fox-coupe funds toward engine enhancements without giving attention to the suspension, that heavy GT convertible may just be showing you the taillights while you’re spinning your wheels.

We’re trying to accomplish both weight loss and added traction by adding Southside Machine’s tubular K-member and ever-popular upper and lower control arms (Lift Bars). Unfortunately, the car on which we’re testing this theory is void of an engine and tranny, but Southside Machine says you can save at least 23 pounds just by adding its K-member. Furthermore, its K-member doesn’t accept a power-steering rack so you must add a manual rack, which removes even more weight.

OK, the weight savings is a gimme, but the big news on Southside’s K-member is its removable centersection. This feature allows you to drop the oil pan for bottom-end inspections and to make oil-pump replacement a lot easier. This task is nearly impossible with a stock, or any other, tubular K-member on the market. Southside Machine also makes solid motor mounts designed to work with the tubular K-member.

We are also installing Southside Machine’s upper and lower control arms. Referred to as Lift Bars, Southside’s lowers might as well have been on the Fox-chassis options list because they are so popular. Yes, the control arm market has become quite crowded nowadays, but Southside’s almost legendary Lift Bars are one of the original lower control arm designs, which explains their popularity. The uppers are just as stout, so we opted for new upper control arm bushings as well.

Jimmy White and crew at Xtreme Custom Paint & Body handled the install of the components on Jimmy’s Fox GT. The GT is currently waiting for a finished paint job and a warmed-up drivetrain. The Southside components should provide a good basis for quick times once the car is done. Follow along as we lose weight and gain bite.

Horse Sense: Jim Wojda (“Wojda Story Here?” Dec. 2000, p. 56) of NMRA Super Street Outlaw fame is widely known as owner of the fastest Southside Mustang in the country. With only Lift Bars and a McCarren Racing–built sway bar, the car has run a best of 8.65 at 159 mph.