Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
May 1, 2003
The complete Stage III SPEC clutch kit includes the clutch cover, the disc, the release bearing, and the alignment tool. The sourced aluminum flywheel is what SPEC told us would work best for this clutch package and for the drivetrain in our project car.

Horse Sense:
When replacing your clutch, don't forget the small things that might keep your car off the road. Generally, it's a good idea to order a new release bearing, pilot bearing, clutch fork, clutch fork pivot stud, and clutch cable to do the job right. You don't want to have to tear everything apart again because you didn't replace some small $15 part.

In the world of Mustang maintenance and repairs, there are some jobs you dread having to do-A/C evaporators, rear-axle bearings, and manual-transmission clutches come to mind. Usually the trepidation is due to the owner having never performed that repair before. Let's face it-most Mustang owners have done tune-ups or brake jobs, and they're basically the same from one car to the next. But when it comes to replacing a clutch, it can be the owner's first crack at it, and therein lies the hesitation.

Some people do their own clutch work for fear of letting anyone else touch their "baby." Others do it simply to save the labor costs. Then there are those who jump in with both feet just to say they did the work. What really matters is that you perform an effective repair the first time, and you do it safely. The procedure for replacing a worn or damaged clutch is covered in most repair manuals such as those from Chilton, Haynes, and so on. As the steps involved require basic hand tools and a minimum of specialty clutch tools, the process should go fairly smoothly during the course of a weekend.

Idle Wild technician Ray Danley begins the clutch swap by removing the starter, the X-pipe, and the shift lever inside the car.

While Editor Turner's '89 notch is far from stock with its Novi-blown 331 and T56 six-speed, the steps to replace the clutch assembly are no different than those of a stock T5 or a Viper-spec T56 from D&D Performance. Although the clutch in the notch looked fine when we installed the 331 six months ago, it wasn't engaging properly. After some clutch-cable adjustments, everything appeared to be OK. Recently, however, the T56 hasn't liked being in First, Second, or Sixth gear, and the faint smell of burning clutch was in the air everywhere Editor Turner drove (we actually thought it was Johnson in the 3g-but no). At this point, the transmission was slipping in all gears and the car was almost undriveable. All we could do was yank out the trans to see what the problem was with the clutch.

Our choice for a replacement clutch on the '89 was an SF114 unit from Star Performance Engineered Clutches (SPEC). This Stage III clutch system features a puck-style carbon clutch disc. We also ordered an aluminum flywheel to give the 331 a more free-revving personality. Spinning that aluminum flywheel will get the 331 going faster than will a stock or billet-steel version. The complete kit comes from SPEC with an installation tool and a new release bearing. The only things left to consider will be the labor, inspecting the related components (clutch cable, clutch fork, and so on), and ordering replacements as needed.

We visited Idle Wild Racing in Largo, Florida, so that Dan Flowers and his crew could give us a professional clutch installation that would not cut any corners. Being a SPEC clutch dealer, Dan was familiar with the product.

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