5.0 Mustang & Super FordsHow To Drivetrain
Ford 8.8 Inch Rear End - Eight-Point Great
Upgrade your 'Stang's 8.8 rear for improved street performance and 'strip-worthy strength
Put yourself in this scenario: Suppose you've spent the better part of two weeks building and installing a fresh, new, big-horsepower stroker engine and adding a nitrous system under the hood of your otherwise stock 'Stang-and those are the only things you've done. You're ready to show it off to a few of your closest friends at the local 1,320 in what you've been billing as your car's "arrival" from 13-second beater to 10-second hitter, thanks to the power surge you've created.
It would be wonderful if such a story had a happy ending, but the reality is it usually doesn't. In this hypothetical case, a quick check of your mirrors during the burnout reveals that the passenger-side rear tire is the only one churning smoke skyward. That can't be right . . . right?
No, it isn't right. While the one-legger burnout should be a signal that something is amiss with the 5.0's rearend, drivers usually proceed to the line with tire-yanking expectations, only to have their dream die the instant the clutch is dumped and a tire hooks when horsepower and torque seek out the weakest link in the drivetrain, which is usually that stock 8.8 rearend.
Power and torque can cause three different types of problems in a 'Stang's rearend: broken gears, a broken or "exploded" differential, or-the granddaddy of 'em all-twisted 28-spline axleshafts that will eventually break.
We've seen all kinds of breakage firsthand and want to inform you about a relatively economical way to build a rear that will stand up to the same forces of power and torque, and more that could pretzel your stock equipment.
The axles and rearend housing are at the core of any good, strong 8.8 build. Thicker and hardened pegs make a huge difference in the amount of power you can get to the rear wheels and, ultimately, the ground. Reinforcing the rearend's outer structure is important for a 'Stang's overall chassis dynamics, as well as for hooking and booking.
We're presenting what we call a "bench build" of a stout 8.8 rearend, as we're going beyond the comfy confines of simply changing a set of gears, while the rearend is still on the car. Using a core housing, we'll show you how a rearend is straightened, welded, and upgraded with bigger axle-bearing housings-the same size that are on Ford's fabled 9-inch rearend. This has long been recognized as Ford's strongest factory rearend assembly that's popular in drag racing.
Many World Ford Challenge regulars are familiar with the name "Robert V." Robert heads up the WFC Tech staff and is among the few cats who can honestly be called a hard-core 'Stangbanger on the West Coast. With plenty of 8.8 builds of this nature on his resume, Robert is a perfect teacher for this exercise and we thank him for helping and showing us how to get it done properly.
Horse Sense: Know the limitations of your equipment! Thanks to hot crate engines, bolt-on performance parts such as heads, cams, and power adders, 400-plus street horsepower is near the norm these days for 5.0 'Stangs. So you're only fooling yourself if you think the high-mile, OEM rear under your stout ride will last forever. Trust us-it's not gonna happen.