Vinnie The Hitman
February 1, 2009
Photos By: Michael Galimi, Frank Cicerale

Also included are Steeda's innovative anti-bumpsteer kit (which relocates the pivot point of the outer tie rod so that toe angle does not change during compression of the front suspension) and Steeda's trick X2 lower ball joints. Now, you may be wondering what role a lower ball joint has in improving handling, but it's pretty cool how the X2 piece works. With the stock ball joint, control arms can pivot too far up into the car and track width, camber angle, and even the toe changes, which can make handling quite unpredictable. By extending the shank portion of the ball joint (like the X2 does), though, the outer ends of the control arms sit further down and make the arms themselves sit more parallel to the road, allowing them to work within its original range of motion for improved suspension response and proper geometry. Appropriate spring spacers are included to compensate for the vehicle height that would have been lost if one installed the X2 ball joints alone.

Moving up to Stage 3, PN 555-2157, you'll benefit from world-class Bilstein dampers all around, which are an improvement to even the original Bilsteins that came from the factory on all '03-'04 Cobras. Next up is Steeda's own lower G-Trac brace that ties the rear of the front crossmember together for improved rigidity. It should be noted that a lower brace was installed at the factory, but the Ford piece is a stamped steel unit that is crush-bent and does not offer as much reinforcement as the Steeda piece, which is a straight tubular steel bar. Lastly, Steeda's innovative 1.375-inch tubular front antisway bar with spacer kit rounds out this stage.

Once you're at Stage 4, you've reached Steeda's pinnacle for street-ready IRS Cobra competence. To complete Steeda's suspension upgrade for Terminator Cobras, PN 555-2158 includes a steel IRS differential cover brace, polyurethane bushings for the rear control arms, and offset front control arm bushings for more caster and subsequently, more camber gain as the wheel is turned. Lastly, a solid steering shaft, supplied by Flaming River, tightens up steering response at the wheel and provides more immediate feedback to the driver.

Not wanting to leave all of our mods on a set of worn tires, we chose to upsize with 18-inch shoes. Since we were on a street theme, rather than a track-only setup, we elected to go with Steeda's own Pentar wheel in 18x9.5-inch sizing, wrapped in Nitto's grippy INVO tires, measuring 275/35/18 all around. These rather new tires are designed for high-end exotic cars, so we felt confident they would be perfect for our top Snake.

As installation was a simple R&R, not too many special tricks were required. We were able to do everything in our own home garage with a generous selection of mechanics tools and plenty of patience. It should be noted that suspension service can be dangerous for the inexperienced mechanic, and we recommend having someone who knows their way around the underpinnings of a Mustang to be by your side. Sadly, I've done nothing but resurrect rotten old Fox and SN-95 Mustangs from the brink of extinction for the past 15 years, so I'm a rather experienced Mustang suspension meck-a-nik, which can be fortunate for this story (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it).

G-Trac Testing
To catapult this Cobra around Raceway Park's road course (in its shorter configuration) we relied on the driving services of Chris Winter, the manager of the track and owner of Crazy Horse Racing. Aside from being able to give us repeatable numbers, his experience on this track with Mustangs would be very valuable. He also gave us candid feedback on how the suspension performed both before and after the Steeda components (for detailed driving impressions, see sidebar).