Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
March 13, 2013

With the release of the all-new Mustang chassis in 2005, Ford engineers finally stepped away from the antiquated Fox-era modified McPherson strut design and non-parallel four-link rear suspension to give us a true McPherson strut front and proven three-link rear design with a fixed Panhard bar for lateral axle control. Gone were band-aids like Quad Shocks. In 2005, the Mustang received the start of a true handling suspension under its sleek new body. However, like any OE-designed suspension, there are plenty of areas that can use improvement, from the OE bushing material (for a more compliant ride and less noise), to anti-sway bar diameter, to spring rate and overall ride height.

Of course, these concessions are what make the aftermarket thrive. But don't think Ford turned a blind eye. They realize the limitations of assembly line requirements, warranty restrictions, and more. So it's no surprise that one of the first upgrades for the then-new '05 Mustang from our friends at Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) was suspension hardware. The '05 Mustang was also FRPP's first foray into the performance parts package concept, which groups a set of suspension components that are factory engineered to work together to enhance the S197 Mustang's handling. This Handling Pack kit concept has been well-received since its inception and today FRPP has a Handling Pack for just about every '05-'13 Mustang—be it a V-6, GT, or GT 500.

Many of these upgrade parts are used on FRPP's turn-key race cars, such as the Boss 302S race car, and have tens of thousands of track-proven miles on them. Of course, you don't have to be a track fanatic to want a well-balanced handling Mustang, even for daily use. The Handling Pack suspension kits are indeed track-ready, but they won't beat you up on your daily commute. The included lowering/handling springs drop the S197 a good inch (1.25-inches for the SVT-based kits), which drastically increases the Mustang's road manners and more importantly its looks.

We're installing FRPP's M-FR3-MSVTA Handling Pack (for '07-'13 Shelby GT 500 coupes), which includes adjustable shocks and struts, larger diameter antisway bars, billet end links, urethane bushings, and more. We're also going to add FRPP's M4264-A adjustable Panhard bar, which many shops recommend for lowered S197 Mustangs to allow centering of the rear axle (critical with larger aftermarket wheel/tire packages).

Ford Racing Handling Upgrades
FRPP '07-'13 Mustang SVT Coupe Handling Pack M-FR3-MSVTA $1,799.95
FRPP '05-'13 Mustang Adjustable Panhard Bar M-4264-A $279.00
Total: $2,078.95

1. We’re installing the Handling Pack on a ’11 Shelby GT500, but no matter the model, the majority of these steps will be the same. Beginning up front (and with your Mustang secured on jack stands and all four wheels removed), remove the lower air diffuser, oil change access panel, and the brace mounted between the core support and engine cradle for access to the front antisway bar.

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25. Fresh off the lift, the ’11 GT 500 already shows a nice drop; it’ll come down another ¼-inch or so once the springs get a little time on the road. The owner of this sweet ride is none other than Mary Jean Wesche, the editor for the Mustang Club of America’s Mustang Times. The after-drive report from Mary Jean was that the car feels more tractable and the suspension doesn’t beat you up. Now to get this boosted snake onto a road course for some fun!