Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
December 27, 2010
Photos By: Courtesy Total Control Products

We love a good project around here and while we're constantly building or modifying our Fords, oftentimes delays and the real world get in the way of timely completion. We're often quite jealous of the owners we talk to who tell us they restored and modified their classic Mustang or Ford in a scant eight months. OK, jealous might be too light a word here, but we've had cars sit for eight months waiting on parts or to be painted and this guy got his whole car done in that time? Ouch! Of course, in these cases, said owner is usually a "jack of all trades" and handled his own paint and bodywork, engine build, fabrication, wiring, and more, so that really cuts out a lot of middle men. Often these projects come to a timely finale because the owner has the time and the wallet to go along with the skill set, making us all the more jealous! So when we got a call from Chris Alston, head honcho of Chassisworks, VariShock, and Total Control Products (TCP) about the transformation of a '65 Mustang coupe into a handling, turning, and stopping sensation, our interest was piqued.

The '65 he found happened to be right outside the front door, as it is owned by Patti Rieger, Chassisworks' general manager. Patti has been upgrading the car for a while now, including a fresh paintjob, a new Ford Racing 351 crate engine, and some 16-inch wheels. To put that new power to the ground and bring the handling, steering, and braking up to the level that will make the car's new found power safe to use, as well as make the car more enjoyable to drive, a full complement of TCP products are being installed on the car in-house. Over the course of the next several issues we'll be following along as the TCP shop takes Patti's coupe from stocker to rocker with rack-and-pinion steering, coilover suspension at all four corners, frame reinforcements, and more. TCP is also going to give Patti some help in the braking department with Wilwood binders all around and a Strange 9-inch out back will be added with the rear four-link. We'll start off with the rack-and-pinion upgrade this month and continue through the suspension and brake upgrades, all the while discussing the benefits of said upgrades and their cost outlay.

As noted, our first installment this month is the TCP rack-and-pinion upgrade. We've all discussed rack-and-pinion kits, be it here in the magazine or on a website/forum, and there are several choices for classic Mustang owners. The TCP rack kit has a lot of thought and engineering built into it and if you shop completely by price, you might just miss out. Yes, the TCP kit is a little north of some other racks available, but the TCP rack is designed from the ground up for a classic Mustang's chassis. It's not a modified GM center-steer rack, but a completely engineered solution that bolts in, does not reduce front chassis strength and does not increase turning radius (matter of fact, the radius is exactly the same as stock by copying the stock steering box's 63/8 inches of travel). The TCP rack also does not change steering geometry, so there's no bumpsteer, excessive tire wear, or Ackerman issues.

With some rack kits, you play hell finding a header to fit, but the TCP rack improves exhaust manifold/header clearance or ground clearance with its tight-to-the-body mounting position and the rack's servo position close to the left framerail for maximum exhaust clearance. Best of all, the rack's effort and power steering pump's output are completely tunable for road feel, driving style, and tire size. It's a quality unit you won't regret opening your wallet for. Check out the photos and you'll agree. Stay tuned for more on the TCP '65 Mustang project.