Frank H. Cicerale
March 1, 2008
Chris Alston's Chassisworks' new lightweight FAB9 is an easy way to throw a 9-inch rear under the back of your Mustang.

When the Beatles stepped off of the airplane and onto the tarmac at Kennedy Airport on February 7, 1964, the world of rock 'n' roll was changed forever by their lyrics, music, and style. They were known as the Fab Four, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward 44 years, and you can say the same thing about the way Fox-body owners will look at the rearend of their cars when the time comes to rework things back there. Thanks to Chris Alston's Chassisworks, installing a 9-inch-style rear has never been easier.

We say 9-inch-style because Alston's new deal is called the FAB9. Best of all, it's a direct replace-ment for the 8.8, yet it's a custom-fabricated 9-inch rearend housing. This new piece is pretty trick and easy to install. It's virtually unbreakable, and there are a ton of options depending on your application.

The FAB9 we installed came with the whole kit and caboodle. The housing was accompanied by all of the hardware to mount it, as well as the antiroll bar kit, housing ends, and upper and lower ProPower control arms (not pictured). The housing seen here is how it comes straight from Alston's. The one we put in the car was powdercoated black.

For starters, the housing itself is fabricated of either mild steel or optional chromoly, and has been engineered to accept both aftermarket as well as OEM control arms. The shock mounts have numerous mounting positions, which allow for a ride-height adjustment range of more than 2 inches. There's also a choice of either spherical bearings or urethane upper control arm mounts.

Additionally, the housings are available in factory as well as narrowed widths, with the shortest side-to-side length being 5411/42 inches wheel to wheel. This allows for the use of any assortment of wider wheel and tire combinations. The best thing is that the housing can be narrowed in 11/44-inch increments, meaning custom lengths can be made to work for your particular application. Alston's can also supply an axle and third-member package that would work with the narrowed rear, so you don't have to worry about trying to locate hard-to-find custom stuff.

The FAB9 replaces the venerable 8.8-inch rear with a stronger, yet lighter, package. The axle tubes are 3 inches in diameter and are welded along the internal tube gusset. This is one area that greatly adds to the rear's strength, as the axle tubes will not want to flex and/or break away from the centersection of the housing under extreme forces, such as those experienced when launching the car.

Many will contest that the 8.8 causes less parasitic drag, and this may be true when spinning the rear by hand. However, if the 8.8 is flexing under a load, there is guaranteed bind-and that costs power.

The willing transplant patient was a soon-to-be completed SN-95 Drag Radial-category car being built by Tony Parsons and the crew of Tony's Metal Craft. The tubing for the frame was already constructed, and the car was waiting for its pair of hind legs. We were more than willing to oblige.

Alston's further strengthens the FAB9 housing by adding an optional back brace, which are fixed boxed structures that span from the outer edge of the back panel to the inside edge of the axle mounts. A rear antiroll bar can also be included as part of the package.

The housing is equipped with billet, late-Ford-style housing ends. Using these housing ends wipes out excess material for the seal seat, which results in less weight and the ability to use stronger, larger-diameter axleshafts. Alston's can also ship out a complete brake kit, depending on which application the car is being built for (street or strip).

While the FAB9 is also made to accept wheelie bars for those who want (or need) them, it can also be equipped with a host of other options straight from Alston's.

We could go on and on about what can be ordered with the FAB9, but as they say, pictures are worth a thousand words. We drove to Tony's Metal Craft in Vineland, New Jersey, where Tony Parsons allowed us to watch as he installed a FAB9 in an SN-95 drag radial-category car he's building.