May 1, 2008

When The SN-95 Mustangs hit the showroom fl oors, Ford enthusiasts had mixed emotions. Though the underpinnings were virtually all Fox Mustang, the design was a far cry from those beloved coupes and hatchbacks we were used to. While the SN-95 was a leap forward in chassis design-providing an extended wheelbase (101.5 inches versus 100.5 inches) and added strength compared to the Fox-body-like any unibody, it could use some added rigidity, and what better way than to add a set of frame connectors?

As with Gangsta's previous suspension mods, we turned to Mustang suspension gurus Steeda Autosports for some much needed chassis upgrades. For just under $355, you can outfi t your SN-95 with a set of weld-in tubular subframe connectors, a strut tower brace, a G-Trac bar, and HD sway bar endlinks-everything your Pony's chassis desires.

Amazingly, our multipurpose track and street car, Gangsta Stang, had never acquired a set of subframe connectors, not to mention a few other much needed chassis additions. We say amazingly because most chassis and suspension gurus consider subframe connectors to be the fi rst mod to any unibody, not one of the last, since they inherently lack strength in the middle of the chassis between the front and rear subframe-the area where weight transfer occurs.

As Craig Radovich of Radical Racing pointed out, this is the reason you can't open the doors on most Fox-bodies when they're up on the lift. Needless to say, whether you're road racing, autocrossing, drag racing, or doing all of the above, the added stiffness is a defi nite plus.

In the past couple of installs with Gangsta Stang, we had good luck with both Steeda Autosports and Radical Racing, so we decided to stick with this winning formula. In addition to Steeda's tubular weld-in subframe connectors (PN 555-5320), we also had Radical bolt up a G-Trac two-point brace (PN 555-5500), a strut tower brace (PN 555-5702), and front sway bar HD endlinks (PN 122-9-8124G).

To Gain access to the cowl where the strut tower brace will mount, tech Jack Swift and owner Craig Radovich of Radical Racing popped off the windshield wipers, weatherstripping, and cowl via its plastic screws.

The rusty stock K-member support looked wimpy compared to the 4130 alloy-steel G-Trac bar, and since it was so simple and easy to install, it was hard to resist. Fox-body owners would be wise to add one as well, since these cars lack this particular support piece. Given the many high-g corners Gangsta has taken in its past and how many it will be seeing in the future, added support from Steeda's 4130 chrome-moly strut tower brace seemed in order as well.

While our project car's handling was already hard to beat, it could defi nitely benefi t from some added steering responsiveness that we hoped to accomplish with a set of HD front sway bar endlinks with polyurethane bushings. We also took the opportunity to test out a set of Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3 rubber, which is the wet-traction brother of the super-gummy F1 Supercar tire. The previous set of summer tires mounted on Gangsta's 18s were worn and provided subpar wet traction, which made daily driving dangerous in New Jersey's climate, so the goal was to fi nd something nearly as sticky but with a tread pattern more conducive to preventing hydroplaning.