K.J. Jones
June 1, 2006
Tired of the time-honored look of five-spoke Pony wheels (the car sported the original "10-Holes" prior to that), Jose Ybarra decided to step up to bigger wheels for his '89 coupe, and he needed an extra lug to get it done.

Take-Off Technology" isn't a new process-not by any stretch-but it's a part of our Mustang world that won't grow old. The process can be both high-tech and, sometimes crudely, low-tech, but it's usually effective either way. It's basically centered on removing-or "passing down," if you will-parts from a newer 'Stang for use as an upgrade on an earlier car. We've all seen this technology in one form or another with performance, appearance, and such. A couple of the more notable examples through the years have been:* Speed Density to Mass Air Conversion* 4.6 Mod-Motor into Fox 'Stang Swap

Upgrading a Fox Mustang's brake system (front discs and rear drums) from four-lugs to five is a do-it-yourself project that's been around a long time. The first iteration of this improvement involved scavenging parts from '83-'92 Ford Rangers and '91-up Lincoln Mark VIIs. Each vehicle had components-such as driver-side axles and five-lug, 9-inch rear drums from the four-banger and 3.0 Ranger, and 11-inch front rotors from the Mark-that made adding a lug simple and relatively inexpensive. The swaps became so popular that Ford Racing Performance Parts (Ford Motorsport at the time) eventually packaged the whole works in two complete systems-front and rear.

After raising the coupe, supporting it on jackstands, disconnecting the negative battery cable, and removing the wheels, Sal starts the job at the back of the car by dropping the diff fluid, then disconnecting the axles' C-clips, removing the pin, and sliding out each axle shaft. We're replacing the four-lug, stock axles with a pair of '94-'98 sticks that our buddies at B&D Racing fortunately had in their "take-off" collection.

Converting to a five-lug setup on a Fox 'Stang has been popular for two reasons. While the percentages of myth and fact on this theory are uncertain, some gearheads say that because of the torque forces generated by high-powered 'Stangs, the additional lug adds strength to the rotors up front and axles in the rear, which is critical in most racing applications. The more popular reason is purely cosmetic. The assortment of available wheels and tires is huge, thanks to the extra lug. The four-lug wheel options are slim for '79-'93 Mustangs. While some aftermarket hoops are OK, the abundance of cool, popular styles is based on the five-lug wheel.

Although our buddy Sal Ybarra (pronounced "Eee-Bar-Rah") is fairly young at 33, he's regarded highly as an "OG"-an authority on all-things Mustang in and around Southern California-and he's one of our valued sources for locating many of the SoCal 'Stangs that are used for our tech articles. Sal also has an uncanny knack for being able to find virgins-that's untouched Fox Mustangs, people!

When we told Sal we needed a Fox that was still rolling on four-luggers for our latest installment of 5.0 Basics, it didn't take him long to find one. The car, which belongs to Sal's brother, Jose, is a clean and totally unmolested '89 coupe. Slapping on a set of five-lug, Bullitt-style wheels was something the brothers had planned to do as an upgrade for the car, so our timing was surprisingly perfect-or so we thought.

Note the difference in length between the stock Fox axleshaft (left) and that of a '94-'98 Mustang (right). The SN-95 axle is slightly longer, and it includes an exciter ring for an ABS sensor.

We initially thought we'd make this swap by using only used parts, but we weren't able to acquire all the pieces we needed in a timely manner. How does an area socked with a supply of Mustang take-off parts for a five-lug conversion completely dry up? We called Baer Racing and explained our idea and situation to Jackie Lyndon and Ben O'Connor, who were awesome with their assistance. They suggested a five-lug, four-wheel-disc-brake system and got it to us in record time.

Apparently, Baer heard the cries long ago of 'Stangbangers who wanted five lugs and developed the 12-inch Sport systems for the front (PN 4261068; $1,172.22) and the rear (PN 4262063; $1,150) of a Fox. The systems make adding that high-demand lug a simple deal. Baer's conversion systems include drilled and slotted front and rear discs, pin-guided calipers, all of the mounting brackets, brake lines, fittings, bolts, and the master cylinder. Bolts are also available separately (PN 6801123; $14.80). An optional proportioning valve (PN 2000035; $72.17) for adjusting rear-brake bias is recommended. But hitting the wrecking yard or a 'Stang shop for a few additional hard parts is still required. The Baer systems are for '87-'93 cars, but they require '94-'95 front spindles and hubs, and five-lug rear axles from a '94-'98 Mustang.

Sal removes the rings from both axles because they aren't necessary for this type of swap, and the clearance between the exciter ring and backing plate for the Baer calipers is closer than we prefer.

Sal, who owns Sal's Speed Shop, of San Fernando, California, knows his way around a Fox, so he performed the swap on his brother's ride in the driveway, without needing a twin-post lift or air tools to get it done. This job is definitely DIY-friendly. The system installed in drama-free short order, and we didn't experience any clearance issues or need to use wheel spacers for proper fitment of the 17-inch, '02 Bullitt rollers that now look downright bitchin' underneath Jose's coupe.

Next up are four new tires and a moderate lowering of the body. No doubt, this is one trunk Mustang that will surely turn heads when it's cruising the streets of the San Fernando Valley. The accompanying photos and captions show you how it's done.

Horse Sense: While technically just a small blip on the overall Mustang-racing radar, Sal's Speed Shop definitely has corralled a large number of Southern California Mustang drag racers. Whenever one of Sal Ybarra's Mustang Drag Days is on the schedule, it isn't uncommon for nearly 100 ponies to arrive at Los Angeles County Raceway. Check out www.salsspeedshop.com for more information and dates for upcoming Mustang Drag Days.