Jim Smart
June 8, 2016

Most Ford cars and trucks have gas-charged hood lift springs, but not Mustangs. The humble prop rod dates back to the downsized 1974 Mustang II, which was the first Mustang to have one. Fox Mustangs all had them, as did the SN-95s. The 2005-2014 S197s had them and, believe it or not, so do the 2015-2017 S550s. Few things are as embarrassing as raising the hood of a $40,000 Mustang only to have to prop it up with a bent piece of steel. And if you miss the hole, you get a gravity check with the hood.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just raise the hood and have it stay put? Drake Muscle Cars, also known as Scott Drake Reproductions, offers the easy-to-install Gas Strut Hood Lift Kit (PNFR3Z-16796/7-BL) for 2015-2017 Mustang. We said the kit is easy to install, but be advised that you must be careful drilling the nut-plate holes in the hood structure or you risk putting a drill bit through the hood. Otherwise installation is easy.

1. A prop rod? Really? Drake Muscle Cars offers a slick alternative to this dated hood prop.

2. Eliminate the factory prop rod with Drake Muscle Cars’ bolt-in Gas Strut Hood Lift Kit. This lightweight bolt-on assembly is engineered to gently lift the hood and keep it open, allowing easy access all around your engine bay. These high-quality gas struts and beautifully designed brackets are machined from 6061-T6 billet aluminum with a clear anodized finish.

3. First, disconnect the battery and protect your fenders. We like these cool S550 fender covers at Addiction Motorsports. They are a perfect fit and prevent the unthinkable.

4. These threaded expandable inserts provided in the Drake kit must be measured to the letter and an appropriate drill bit chosen. Insert diameter is 0.351 inch.

5. Using the Drake template, a hole is drilled into the inner fender for the billet gas strut bracket. Begin with a small pilot hole, then the insert size.

6. Place the insert in the hole, then insert the draw bolt and tighten as shown. Bolt threads pull and expand the insert securely; it becomes a permanent part of the inner fender.

7. The billet bracket is installed as shown with the spacer positioned in the step-down in the inner fender.

8. Perform the same procedure on the left-hand side, using the template, drilling the hole, and installing the threaded insert.

9. The left-hand billet gas strut bracket and spacer are installed the same way. Keep fasteners loose until all parts are in place for adjustment purposes.

10. This is the way your billet inner brackets should look installed. It is very easy to get these brackets backwards. If that happens, the hood will not close.

11. Loosen the hood hinge nuts one side at a time. Be very careful to protect your paint.

12. Temporarily install the Drake billet hood bracket in order to mark the bolt hole. Snug the nuts, but do not tighten them just yet.

13. Mark the bolt hole with a felt tip marker. Remove the billet bracket and reinstall the nut hinge flange nuts.

14. This step requires extreme caution or you might wind up with a dent or hole in the hood skin. Slowly and gently drill this threaded insert hole, walking the bit through the hole until it penetrates. Have a buddy steady the hood while you are drilling.

15. Hood bracket threaded inserts are installed like this, which permanently swages the insert to the hood structure.

16. Billet brackets are permanently installed and tightened.

17. The hood is fit-checked and hinges tightened. A good tip is to barely snug these flange nuts and fit the hood first, then tighten. It is suggested you find better-looking aftermarket flange nuts and ditch the body color fasteners.

18. With hood fitment confirmed we are ready to install the gas struts. Gas strut installation begins with these balls studs at both the hood and inner fenders.

19. The battery cover must be carefully trimmed to clear the hood brackets and gas struts.

20. Gas struts are attached at both hood and inner fender anchor points and secured with these failsafe wire clips. Ascertain clip security before you let go of the hood.

21. Gas strut installation looks like this. The strut cylinder attaches to the hood, with the rod attaching to the inner fender.

22. Here is a close look at ball, socket, and wire clip installation.