Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
June 1, 2013
Photos By: Source Interlink Media Archives

Taking your vintage Mustang to the next level and making it a capable, road hugging machine that can stay with the pack on the street or track and have braking that inspires confidence and not a change of underwear means having to open your wallet. Plain and simple, there's just no bargain fix for getting your Mustang to handle better. Sure, some experienced drivers have been able to use the classic tricks of the '60s Trans-Am era with some success, but tuning your suspension's ride height, shock compression/rebound, and spring rates means you can dial your ride in to the exact road feel you want for daily driving or be able to tune your suspension for any track condition.

We know you're thinking, Do I really need a coilover suspension for my Mustang to handle well? The short answer is no—if you are running stock 14-inch tires and only drive to cruise nights and Saturday ice cream runs with the grandkids. However, if you drive your vintage Mustang daily, have any interest in weekend autocross or road course/HPDE events, and plan a modern wheel and rubber combo...well then it is a resounding yes to that question. An adjustable coilover suspension will help your Mustang use every bit of that modern, low-profile, sticky rubber. Not to mention several of these systems are designed to work with aftermarket or late-model Mustang brakes and you now have great stopping power with discs up front.

Each of these systems we're outlining in our buyer's guide has been designed to improve handling, reduce or eliminate bumpsteer, allow easy ride height and spring rate adjustments, and many include adjustable shocks or have an option for the adjustment. We've included coilover kits that encompass the basic conversion (retaining the stock control arms) for our readers on a budget, as well as the more involved systems that utilize tubular control arms and often eliminate the strut rod assembly on the vintage Mustang. We've even found a few strut-based systems as well that eliminate the upper arm altogether (like a '79-'13 Mustang) and use a cradle-based system. Finally, we added a sidebar on weld-in systems for those that truly need the engine bay room for big-block or modular engine swaps as well. Check out these offerings and then contact the manufacturers for more details, options, and current pricing.

Anthony Jones Engineering

AJE is well known for their '79-'04 Mustang drag suspensions and engine crossmembers and only just a few years ago entered the vintage Mustang suspension arena with their Colt-65 starter kit. The Colt-65 uses similar coilover strut and crossmember features of their late-model Mustang product line redesigned to work with the vintage Mustang shock tower. The Colt-65 kit does not include spindles or steering rack, but allows you to build with the Colt-65 as a foundation. If you're looking for one-stop shopping, AJE's complete kits include everything but the disc brake hardware. Choose from either Fox or SN95 spindle applications and manual or power rack-and-pinion steering.

Application: 1965-1970 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover strut assembly
Adjustable: single adjustable for both compression and rebound
Kit Contents: crossmember with engine mounts (choice of small-block, big-block, modular, 2.3L four-cylinder, or 3.8L V-6), lower A-arms, manual or power steering rack, steering shaft, bumpsteer kit, caster/camber plates, coilover struts with springs, Fox or SN95 Mustang spindles
Pricing: $1,549-$2,599

Classic Performance Products

The folks at Classic Performance Products (CPP) have introduced their own vintage Mustang coilover conversion for '65-'70 Mustangs that keeps things really simple. The coilover shock bolts to the original or stock-replacement style upper control arm and utilizes a conical spring that sits in the shock tower in the original coil spring retaining pocket. Simply remove the stock coil spring and shock absorber and replace with the CPP coilover kit and you have a fully adjustable front suspension setup. Shocks are available in single and double adjustable configurations.

Application: 1965-1970 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly
Adjustable: single adjustable for both compression and rebound via external knob, optional double adjustable for separate compression and rebound settings via external knobs
Kit Contents: coilover shock body with single or double adjustable control knobs, conical coilover springs, mounting hardware
Pricing: $569-$828

Control Freak Suspensions

You probably know a few control freaks in your office, but in this case it is a good thing! Control Freak Suspensions designed a direct replacement coilover shock assembly that bolts in place of the stock coil spring and damper. You can use your stock control arms, but the Control Freak DOM steel tubing control arms that are offered along with their coilover kits is the perfect addition. The upper arms feature built-in negative roll with relocated ball joints, and both upper and lower arms feature impregnated graphite poly bushings for crisp handling with low noise. Best of all its control arms are stronger and lighter than stock and don't flex like stock stamped parts.

Application: 1965-1970 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly
Adjustable: adjustable for compression with external knob, double adjustable is an option
Kit Contents: upper and lower DOM tubular control arms, upper control arm relocation template, spring perch replacement brackets, upper shock mount brackets, coilover shocks, conical coilover springs
Pricing: $949-$1,899

Fatman Fabrications

The engineers at Fatman Fabrications took a long, hard look at the early Mustang and realized it was best to maintain the OE forces acting on the shock towers and firewall versus cutting everything away and starting anew. To that end, Fatman designed a crossmember that strengthens the frame rails by tying them together and also allows for revised pickup points for the lower control arms and new rack-and-pinion steering, which still allow for suspension loads to be carried into the shock towers and firewall. In doing so, they were able to utilize stock '79-'93 struts, '94-'04 Mustang brakes and spindles, and even a Ford rack-and-pinion (from the '90-'03 Escort). The struts, brakes, spindles, and rack-and-pinion are all sourced by the installer, allowing you the choice of buying budget service parts or going “all out” with aftermarket struts, brakes, and more. Of course Fatman can provide all of these parts as well, either individually or in a complete kit, to help finish off your coilover conversion.

Application: 1965-1973 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover strut sleeve (you supply stock-style strut cartridge)
Adjustable: depends upon aftermarket strut used
Kit Contents: mounting crossmember, tubular lower control arms with ball joints, upper strut mount with camber adjustment, coilover strut sleeves/adjusters, steering shaft and U-joints
Pricing: $2,095

Gateway Classic Mustang

A strut-based coilover system is a popular way to improve handling while also allowing more room in the engine bay, as the lower two-thirds of the shock tower can be trimmed back for engine or header clearance. All you need to retain is the top of the shock tower for the upper strut mounting point. Gateway Classic Mustang offers strut-based coilover systems from mild-to-wild, starting with a basic strut system that is non-adjustable and sans brakes all the way to a fully adjustable strut for ride height, compression, and rebound with adjustable coilover and massive six-piston 14-inch disc brakes. These kits replace the upper control arm, shock, and coil spring parts and you retain the stock Mustang lower arm and strut rod (though GCM does offer boxed lower arms and adjustable strut rods as upgrade options). The strut cartridge is actually rotated for ride height adjustments in this kit while strut height is adjusted independently via the coilover spring collar. Camber is adjusted via a bolt threaded into the top of the spindle, which pushes against the strut and moves the top of the spindle in and out; simple and effective.

Application: 1965-1973 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover strut
Adjustable: Base kit is fixed, optional single and double adjustable strut kits available
Kit Contents: fixed or adjustable KYB struts for ride height and compression/rebound depending upon kit, Eibach springs, custom spindles; the base kit does not include a brake system, all others include 11-14 inch disc brake kit with multi-piston calipers
Pricing: $1,595-$7,695

Global West

Global West actually offers two different geometry versions of their kits depending upon use and even utilize separate lower control arm designs between the '65-'66 kit and the '67-'73 kit. The kits are offered in a Negative Roll design with relocated upper control arm mounting points for street and handling applications, as well as a MST version for drag racing, which keeps the tubular arm in the stock mounting position. The upper arms feature increased caster (3-degrees positive) for better stability and corner entry. By designing the increased caster into the tubular upper arm, you don't have to play with relocating the lower arm for caster (how Ford did it), which can limit wheel and tire fitment. On the '65-'66 kits, the lower control arm and strut rod is replaced with a one piece control arm that uses the old strut rod mounting point on the frame as the forward pivot point, similar to the '05 and up Mustang style arm. This true A-arm style improves braking and stability in cornering. For '67-'73 models, a new tubular lower arm is used with an adjustable strut rod with rod ends. The coilover kits also include a unique tubular shock tower support with revised bump stop. Stock spindles are retained when using the Global West kit, which allows any manner of aftermarket brake kit to be utilized, or even the stock Mustang discs if on a budget.

Application: 1965-1973 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly
Adjustable: adjustable for rebound with external knob, double adjustable is an option
Kit Contents: tubular upper control arm using standard four-bolt ball joint, tubular lower control arm using screw-in ball joint, QA1 or Viking coilover shocks, Eibach springs, billet aluminum upper shock mounts, antisway bar, tubular tower support with suspension bump stop ('65-'66 only), adjustable strut rods ('67-'73 only)
Pricing: $2,390.94-$2,999.95

Griggs Racing

Bruce Griggs was on the late-model Mustang scene right from the very beginning, creating serious suspension systems designed for the track and the winner's circle, but also would be just as welcomed on the street. His Griggs Racing digs have built numerous race winning Mustangs and he has now designed a SLA (short-long-arm) coilover suspension for vintage Mustangs. The GR350 system uses a short upper control arm in conjunction with a longer lower control arm to control camber change during suspension movement. Controlling the camber during jounce and rebound means keeping more of the tire's contact patch in contact with the road surface. More contact means more traction for cornering and braking. Griggs uses a weld in crossmember and bolt or weld in mini-towers for the coilover shocks to completely change the front suspension on a vintage Mustang. This allows the stock shock towers to be trimmed or completely removed if needed for engine swaps or header clearance. The weld in crossmember uses the late-model Mustang power steering rack (converting the car to front steer in the process), and the kit includes '94 and later “SN95” Mustang spindles and hubs, allowing a vast aftermarket selection of performance disc brake options.

Application: 1965-1970 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly
Adjustable: Koni 30 Series single adjustable for rebound with soft or firm valving, double adjustable aluminum Koni 3012 Series with external knob is an option
Kit Contents: tubular upper control arms with screw-in ball joints, boxed tubular lower control arms, Koni coilover shocks, coilover springs, SLA shock towers, SN95 spindle adapters, SN95 Mustang spindles, SN95 wheel hubs, power rack-and-pinion, steering shaft adapter, tubular antisway bar with splined ends
Pricing: $6,664.45-$9,553.60

Ridetech

The folks at Ridetech are known for their air suspension systems, including full four-corner kits for vintage Mustangs, but have been expanding into true coilover shock systems for those that don't want the installation hassle of an air tank, compressor, and lines. Ridetech's new coilovers are offered in four different series. The base RQ (Ride Quality) Series features a non-adjustable coilover, while the HQ (Handling Quality) Series steps up to a single adjustable coilover for rebound with an external knob at the top of the shock so you can quickly make adjustments under the hood (shown here). Furthermore, Ridetech has some unique additional coilover offerings in their TQ (Track Quality) Series and Select Series. The TQ Series features a three-way adjustable coilover. The shock itself is adjustable for rebound while compression adjustments can be made for both low and high speed settings. The Select Series is an electronically controlled coilover shock that is driver adjustable via a push button to select between soft and firm settings right from your driver's seat. All four series of shocks are fully adjustable for ride height and come with HyperCo coilover springs with your choice of spring rate. You can opt for stock control arm fitment on '65-'66 Mustang applications, but for '67-'70 Mustangs you must install Ridetech's StrongArm tubular adjustable upper control arm.

Application: 1965-1970 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly

Adjustable: base RQ series is non-adjustable, HQ series coilovers are single adjustable for rebound with external knob, TQ series coilovers are triple adjustable for rebound plus high and low speed compression, Select series coilovers are electronically adjustable for a soft or firm valving
Kit Contents: coilover shocks, HyperCo coilover springs, mounting hardware
Pricing: $600-$1,350

Ron Morris Performance

Ron Morris offers two different coilover kits for the vintage Mustang and they could easily be classified as one being a full suspension conversion and the other simply a coilover shock conversion. Taking a look at the Street Force tubular coilover system, it's easy to see that this is RMP's answer for a full front suspension conversion that tackles all of the vintage Mustang's inherent issues. By improving the suspension geometry and ride quality, the Street Force system is ready for the street or the track. The full coilover shock is mounted directly behind the spindle, which lowers the spring and shock rates required to support the vehicle and enhances ride quality. The tubular upper and lower arms feature replaceable screw-in ball joints and the upper control arms are available in standard or dropped configurations. The dropped upper arm option lowers the arm 1¾-inches (standard Shelby drop is only 1-inch), which increases camber gain for traction and handling. QA1 shocks and springs are used and allow for simple on-car ride height adjustments. Finally, the Street Force kit is designed to use the stock Mustang spindle so you can keep the aftermarket brakes you might already be running, or allow easy upgrading to any aftermarket brake kit designed for the Mustang spindle.

Application: 1965-1970 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly
Adjustable: QA1 single adjustable for rebound and compression with 18 setting options using external knob, optional double adjustable QA1with 18 compression and 18 rebound settings for 324 shock settings using external knobs
Kit Contents: tubular upper control arms with screw-in ball joints, tubular lower control arms with screw-in ball joints, QA1 coilover shocks, QA1 coilover springs, tubular adjustable strut rods, bolt-on adjustable steering stops.
Pricing: $2,550

The ETI coilover system from RMP is a simple coilover shock replacement that utilizes the stock shock absorber and coil spring mounting points on the '65-'70 Mustang. What this allows is for vintage Mustang owners to easily adjust their ride height and shock valving for road or track conditions. You can even quickly change out spring rates as well by simply unbolting the coilover assembly versus having to deal with a spring compressor on the typical stock coil spring affair. The best thing about the ETI system is it works with the stock suspension on your Mustang. You can install the ETI system now and upgrade to aftermarket control arms later. Or if you already have new control arms and just want some adjustability in your ride quality and ride height the ETI is a great solution. Application: '65-'70 Mustang

Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly
Adjustable: QA1 single adjustable for rebound and compression with 18 setting options using external knob, optional double adjustable QA1with 18 compression and 18 rebound settings for 324 shock settings using external knobs
Kit Contents: QA1 coilover shocks, QA1 coilover springs, coilover mounting brackets
Pricing: $1,000

Speed Direct

Speed Direct may be more known for their power rack-and-pinion steering conversions for vintage Mustangs (under the Steeroids brand), but they have now engineered a simple bolt-in coilover conversion to complement their rack-and-pinion kits. The Vector Series is available in staged kits with full front and rear hardware, or you can just get the front coilover conversion, which is what we're focusing on here for our guide. The Vector Series front coilover conversion is designed as a direct replacement for the stock shock and coil spring parts; which means the Vector Series kit will bolt onto your stock or stock-replacement style upper control arms. This keeps costs down while still improving handling via adjustable shock valving and ride height abilities. The QA1 adjustable shocks are paired with conical springs that sit in the stock spring seat of the Mustang's shock tower and the upper shock mount utilizes the original Mustang shock mount bracket as well. Speed Direct offers different spring rates for street or track use. Application: '65-'70 Mustang

Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly
Adjustable: QA1 single adjustable for rebound and compression using external knob, optional double adjustable QA1with separate compression and rebound settings using external knobs
Kit Contents: QA1 coilover shocks, coilover springs, coilover mounting brackets
Pricing: $899-$1,220

Total Control Products

Total Control Products (TCP) made a name for themselves during the Eleanor Mustang boon due to their suspension use on the actual movie cars. TCP, which was later purchased and integrated into the Chris Alston's Chassisworks brands, has grown steadily from the Eleanor years with all manner of suspension and chassis parts for early Fords, not just Mustangs. One of TCP's original and best sellers is their complete coilover front suspension conversion. This system uses super-strong tubular upper and lower control arms (with the upper being adjustable) along with a tubular adjustable strut rod to transform the Mustang's front suspension into a coilover capable system. The coilover itself is mounted on the lower arm directly behind the lower ball joint for better ride quality and control without using super stiff springs. The upper control arms can be lowered using TCP's optional drill jig, or even better, the arms can be ordered with a dropped pivot shaft for simple bolt-on installation without drilling your shock towers. The lower control arm and strut rod feature TCP's exclusive TruCenter pivot points with polymer races for precise suspension pivot movement without the bind of rubber bushings or the harshness of a rod-end. The system is designed to utilize your stock spindle and TCP offers its own spindle as well.

Application: 1965-1973 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly
Adjustable: single adjustable for both compression and rebound with 16-setting external knob, optional double adjustable for compression and rebound separately with two 16-setting external knobs (256 shock settings)
Kit Contents: tubular adjustable upper control arms (dropped pivot shaft an option), tubular lower control arms with TruCenter pivots, tubular adjustable strut rods with TruCenter pivots, single or double adjustable Varishock coilover shocks, VariSpring coilover springs in 310-750 lb/in ratings (user choice), bolt-on coilover shock mounts

Pricing: $2,535

If you're looking for a basic coilover conversion to bolt directly to your stock upper control arm, or perhaps to compliment aftermarket control arms you already have installed, TCP offers their bolt-in coilover conversion for use with stock control arms. The system uses high-quality billet aluminum VariShocks with either single or double adjustable valving and come with your choice of spring rate and shock tower adapter to dial in just the ride height and ride quality you're looking for.

Application: 1965-1973 Mustang
Shock/Strut: coilover shock assembly
Adjustable: single adjustable for both compression and rebound with 16-setting external knob, optional double adjustable for compression and rebound separately with two 16-setting external knobs (256 shock settings)
Kit Contents: single or double adjustable VariShock coilover shocks, VariSpring coilover springs in 400-750 lb/in ratings (user choice), shock tower adapter system (choice of zero, 1-inch, or 2-inch offset to lower car), mounting hardware
Pricing: $788-$988

Weld-In Wonders

While we originally planned this buyer's guide to be a toolbox friendly bolt-in solution for our readers, we know many of you are looking for the ride quality and adjustment of a coilover system, but also plan to upgrade your braking and steering systems. Additionally, if you're looking to upgrade your vintage Mustang's performance under hood with a big-block or even a modular engine like the uber-popular Coyote 5.0L from the '11-'13 Mustang GT, then you know engine compartment space is at a premium. A few of our bolt-in systems (mainly the strut based coilovers) do offer shock tower notching kits to make way for said larger engines, but if you're looking to get rid of the shock towers altogether for room and/or a cleaner engine bay, then a weld-in crossmember solution from the following companies is a viable alternative and we felt it was only fair they get a mention as well.

Heidts

You'll find three distinct weld-in coilover systems from Heidts for '65-'70 Mustangs. Their classic setup is their Mustang II system, which features coilover shocks as an option. The billet coilover shock option nets you a 10-way adjustable coilover and chrome spring (multiple rates to choose from). This allows you to fine tune the overall ride as well as the vehicle's ride height. The Mustang II system starts at $2,155 and the coilover option is an additional $370. Stepping up from the base Mustang II is Heidts' own Superide II system. This completely new design IFS comes standard with the billet single-adjustable coilovers along with tubular control arms, four-piston brakes and other upgrades starting at $3,075. Finally, there's Heidts brand-new Pro-G IFS system, a purpose-built race-car designed system with plenty of adjustability, revised spindles, better geometry, and more. The Pro-G is standard with billet single adjustable coilover shocks and rings the register at $4,530.

Rod & Custom Motorsports

The Rod & Custom crew have been engineering Ford's Mustang II IFS into unibody Fords for over 20 years. Their best seller is their PN RC-107 tubular control arm coilover IFS for '65-'73 Mustangs. The IFS uses Alden Eagle coilovers with 12-position adjustments for rebound and includes tubular control arms, 1-inch antisway bar, 11-inch disc brakes, braided brake hoses, spindles (drop spindles are optional), engine mounts, rack-and-pinion steering (power available as an option), steering shaft kit, and more for $2,695.

Total Cost Involved

TCI offers two different weld-in solutions, both with standard coilover shocks. Both of TCI's IFS systems start as 3/16-inch thick crossmembers with the main difference between the two being the engine selection—one is for small- and big-block Fords, while the other is for modular engines. The kits include tubular control arms, a 1-inch antisway bar, 11-inch disc brakes, and rack-and-pinion steering. The systems start at $2,969 and options include single and double adjustable coilovers in plain or polished aluminum, larger disc brakes, power rack-and-pinion, and more.