January 8, 2005

Ask anyone about Fox Mustang brakes and there will be some hesitationabout their functionality. Some say they're merely adequate; others saythey're downright dangerous. Obviously, apart from the SVOs or '93Cobras, Fox Mustangs aren't known for their braking prowess.

In past years, the aftermarket, in addition to other Ford products, hascontributed to making sure Fox Mustang owners are able to bring the whoaafter the go. Lincolns, SVO Mustangs, and even Ranger trucks have helpedthe Fox Mustang cause. But with our former four-cylinder coupe, we choseto forego the salvage yard and get our brake parts from Stainless SteelBrakes Corp. for a complete front and rear brake package. We also had tosource several other companies to make everything come together, sowatch for them as well for ideas to make your Fox Mustang brake with thebest of them.

We've had success with SSBC's brake kits on previous Mustangs, but thistime we wanted something a little more stout than the basic big brakefront/rear disc conversion. For the front, we ordered SSBC's '87-'93Super Twin brake kit (PN A112-9). This kit includes the company's Force10 two-piston calipers, which we had powdercoated red--a la GeneWilson's yellow coupe in the June '04 issue--and 13-inch rotors. Outback, we wanted to do something a little bigger than SSBC's standard FoxMus-tang rear disc conversion, which offers 101/4-inch rotors. Thoseworked well on our former Fox coupe, but this time around we're adding18x8-inch Falken Torque 5 wheels. We thought the car would look sillywith 10-inch rotors inside an 18-inch wheel, so SSBC set us up with its'94-'95 GT upgrade rotor and caliper package (PN A112-4).

Horse Sense: Until the SN-95 Mustangs hit thestreets, the '84-'86 SVO and the '93 Cobra were the only Fox Mustangs tocome with four-wheel disc brakes. The SVO even had a five-lug wheeldesign--the first since 1973--but the '93 Cobra was a four-lug design.The '93 Cobra R, of which 107 were built, had a five-lug wheel and brakepackage, which was a precursor to the SN-95 brake package. We're in fullMelvin mode, aren't we?

This is the same package Gene installed on his coupe, but he used a'94-'95 Mustang rear axle, which made it that much easier to adapt therear system to his car. We didn't have the luxury of using a '94-'95rear, so we had to come up with plan B. This led us to North Racecars,which we stumbled upon while checking out Matt Bobbitt's Mustang brakeWeb site. Using the information gathered from Matt's site, we decided touse SSBC's '94-'95 Mustang GT upgrade kit, which includes 12-inch rotorsand single- piston calipers (also powdercoated red). As with both thefront and rear, the rotors were treated to SSBC's directional vaneventing and Xtra Life plating.

In order to use this '94-'95 Mustang rear upgrade kit, we used NorthRacecars' caliper brackets, which North owner Richard Oben designed andimplemented on many of his customers' Cobra kit cars. Richard's FactoryFive Racing customers who had used a Fox Mustang donor car to buildtheir Cobra needed larger brakes out back as the stock binders weremerely adequate. He designed brackets to convert both '94-'98 GT andCobra Mustang brakes to a Fox 8.8. We obtained a pair of the GT bracketssince the SSBC kit uses an adapter to fit the larger rotor and caliperonto the stock '94-'98 rear axle. Basically, when all is said and done,we'll have a Fox-length rear axle with SN-95-style disc brakes, thanksto the North Racecars brackets.

Of course, we needed emergency-brake cables as well, and a quick call toour boy Joe Charles at Parkway Ford hooked us up with a pair of Fordcables ('93 Cobra units; PN M-2809-A) to have a fully operationale-brake. We also obtained a '94-'95 Mustang V-6 master cylinder from TimMatherly at MV Performance [(770) 725-7862]. While we really wanted a'93 Cobra master cylinder, we couldn't find one at the time of theinstall, and the '94-'95 V-6 unit is a close second to the Cobra mastercylinder. But our installation shop of choice--J&J Performance in FortMyers, Florida-- informed us they've done similar swaps and left thestock Fox master cylinder in place with no ill effects, even on aroad-race Mustang. In the end, they were right, but we may explore amaster cylinder upgrade just to make sure we're getting all the SSBC'sbraking abilities to all four wheels.

The reason we went after such big brakes was because we wanted to dosomething different with the car's tire and wheel package--and thatwould involve Falken Tire Corporation. For an easy one-stop shoppingexperience, we got Falken's new Torque 5 18x8 wheels with its FK-451tires in 245/40 up front and 255/45 out back. Going to a five-lug brakesetup opened up our coupe to so many wheel choices, we couldn't make upour minds. Believe it or not, 5.0&SF feature car owner and SuperStallionof the Net Photoshop legend Julian Moore took a profile photograph thatwe had of the car and electronically installed several wheels on the carto help us decide. Out of all the Photoshop jobs, the Falkens looked thebest, so that's whose phone rang with us on the other end. We're sureyou'll agree with our choice as you look at the finished photos.

138_0501_z Ford_mustang_coupe Right_front_view
It's hard to believe this used to be a lowly four-cylinder coupe. Fromevery direction, the car's looks have improved tenfold with the additionof the bigger Stainless Steel Brakes Corp.'s brakes and the Falkenshoes. We think the red SSBC calipers and the Falken Torque 5 wheelswith their anthracite centers and polished lips provide just the rightamount of contrast to make a nice street car out of our coupe. Now wejust need to make it fast to match the exterior.
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We've had luck with Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. on past Mustangs, sowhen we decided to upgrade the brakes on our current Fox coupe, we againchose SSBC, but this time we stepped up to the Super Twin front brakekit (PN A112-9; $1,220). This kit includes new spindles, rotors,calipers, and all mounting hardware. Be aware that the Super Twin kit isdesigned for use with 18-inch wheels. The SSBC rear kit we chose isactually a '94-'95 Mustang GT upgrade kit (PN A112-4; $740) designed toenable SN-95 owners to run a larger rotor for increased braking power.It includes new rotors, calipers, and mounting hardware. SSBCpowdercoated the calipers red to give the coupe a nice color contrast.We thought Gene Wilson's coupe ("Screaming Banana," June '04, p. 44)looked wicked with the red calipers, so we decided to copy our boy.
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Converting the car to five-lug opened us up to a million wheel designs.OK, maybe not that many, but you get the idea. Still, we lost sleepdeciding which wheels to use. We wanted something different but cool. Wealso wanted something to contrast with our coupe's yellow paint and thered calipers from SSBC. Thanks to a little Photoshop work by our buddyJulian Moore, we chose Falken Tire Corporation's Torque 5 wheels in size18x8. We also had Falken mount the wheels with its FK-451 treads. Weordered 245/40 treads up front and 255/45 for the back. If we had to doit over, we would've used 245/40 shoes all the way around because the255/45-series tire sidewall looks really big when compared to the 245/40up front. Nonetheless, the FK-451 is an all-season performance tire thathooks on the street but still provides excellent road manners and littleroad noise.
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We wanted to use larger rear rotors than what SSBC listed for '87-'93Mustangs (10.25 inches), so we had to become crea-tive. While checkingout Matt Bobbitt's Mustang brake Web site (mjbobbitt.home.comcast.net/mustang/5lug.html), we found a link to North Racecars,which specializes in building kit cars, especially those from FactoryFive Racing. North Racecars' Richard Oben found that many of hiscustomers wanted more braking performance from their cars and that thestock Fox 8.8 binders weren't cutting it. So he designed and madebrackets that allow you to add SN-95 GT or Cobra brakes to an 8.8 rear.Since the SSBC rear kit was an SN-95 GT upgrade, we surmised North's GTbrackets would make everything work together and give us the largerrotors and increased braking power we needed.
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We were hoping to upgrade all the brakes at the same time, but prior tothe swap, our front wheel bearings began making noise. Well, wouldn'tyou know the noise progressively became worse, until it felt as if thefront wheel was going to come off. Checking out the spindle showed thething was toasted--literally. We limped the car back to our tech shop,and Tech Editor--sorry, Senior Tech Editor--Mark Houlahan swapped outthe fronts with the SSBC front kit. We were lucky the SSBC parts werealready in our possession because the spindle definitely neededreplacing. Even with just the SSBC brakes up front and the stock drumsout back, braking power was greatly improved. But with the Falken18-inch wheels up front and 15-inch Weld Draglites out back, we weren'texactly pimpin' it--more like bulldoggin' it, as we say in the South.
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Mark removes the stock spindle from the front strut and the lowercontrol arm. The SSBC front kit includes new spindles.

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