Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
July 1, 2002
While the rear brake upgrade we accomplished last month was a basic rotor and pad upgrade in quality and materials, the brake upgrade for the front of our 3g GT will involve an increase in size as well. The ever-popular 13-inch front disc and two-piston PBR/Steeda caliper get the nod up front (for now, since we plan even stronger brakes in the future).

Horse Sense:
If 13-inch Cobra spec brakes aren't enough for you, Steeda also sells a 14-inch, Brembo-based system for serious eyeballs-on-the-windshield braking. The Brembo system features its own heavy-duty, vented and slotted rotor with a four-piston caliper (the Cobra/PBR has but two). We plan to upgrade to the Brembos at a later date.

Last month we began our 3g GT's suspension and braking improvements with the help of the cornering and stopping gurus at Steeda. We installed Steeda's trick Five-Link suspension system for the rear of our 3g project while adding several other suspension goodies. In the braking department, Steeda gave us more whoa power with a Power Slot rotor upgrade and performance pads. We're well on our way to a solid foundation for achieving 1g of handling and 1g of braking. But we can't leave our stock front suspension and brakes crying for help now, can we?

Discussing ideas for our project with Steeda's Dario Orlando led him to suggest the company's 13-inch Cobra brake upgrade kit. At first we were a bit skeptical that we would be able to achieve 1g of braking with the Cobra brakes. Not that there's anything wrong with Cobra brakes-they're one of the best braking systems Ford has ever put on its cars-but we had visions of 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers dancing around in our heads.

Swapping out the front springs in a New Edge Mustang is no different from any other Mustang built in the last 22 years, so we'll refrain from boring you with the bolt-by-bolt John Madden replay this time. Using air tools, Steeda tech master Steve Chichisola has the 3g's front brakes and suspension apart and partially stripped in less than 10 minutes.

Dario gave us the skinny on the Steeda kit and why we would be able to achieve 1g of braking. The kit includes 13-inch Cobra rotors, but these are Power Slot zinc-coated rotors, not simple stock pieces. The degas slots and zinc coating allow the rotors to run cooler and prevent a spongy brake pedal due to pad outgassing. The two-piston PBR caliper, while a "Cobra" caliper in many regards, is built to Steeda's specs. And, lastly, the Cobra upgrade kit includes high-performance brake pads and stainless steel flex hoses for optimum braking and a firm pedal. Combine these parts into a kit such as Steeda's and you'll have "Cobra" brakes that are better than a production Cobra's. We took Dario's word and had his crew bolt on the Cobra brake upgrade kit without a second thought.

To complete the rest of our front suspension improvements, which will harmonize with our Cobra brake upgrade kit in finding 1g of handling and 1g of braking, we chose the well-tested and proven Tokico Illumina five-way struts to replace our stock struts. Additional items for our front suspension upgrade will also include Steeda's wonderful caster/camber adjuster plates and its famous G-Trac and strut-tower braces, urethane sway bar bushings, and an aggressive alignment on Steeda's state-of-the-art laser-guided alignment system.

To top off our front suspension and brake upgrades, we used a matching set of 2000 Cobra R 18x9.5 wheels-in silver paint finish-wrapped in a set of P285/35ZR18 Nitto Extreme NT555s, just as we put out back last month. The Nitto's extreme grip will help in both our handling and braking tests later this year.

Speaking of which, this article wraps up our "phase one" of sorts on the 3g GT project. After some public display engagements, our plans in the coming months call for further testing and upgrades. We'll be adding more boost or upgrading our ProCharger-possibly stroking our 4.6 to a 5.0 (how fitting for us)-along with additional braking and suspension enhancements, and maybe even some graphics to wake up the 3g's yellow landscape. Keep an eye on these pages. We don't know where we're going next, but it's going to be fun, that's for sure!