Jeff Ford
February 1, 2001
Contributers: Jeff Ford, The Mustang Monthly Archives Photos By: The Mustang Monthly Archives

Power without control is dangerous. Building a rock-solid car that feels right, tracks straight, and can hold its own in most situations is not easy. There are innumerable things to consider, such as tire size and type, which shocks to run, which sway bar size to use, and which engine to build. The really nice thing is, today we have far more choices in these areas than we did 20 years ago. The hobby has grown to encompass our needs and desires for more advanced handling and performance.

Back in the day, a good engine was enough. Questionable brakes, bad tires, and dead shocks were not really an issue-speed, however, was. With age and experience under our belts now, we tend to want to build the type of car that we've dreamed of but couldn't afford back then. Now, there is really no excuse for not building a car for your needs.

In the late-model ranks, there is a glut of good go-fast equipment. In this area, especially, you can hone your '79-2000 Mustang to a razor's edge in your chosen field of endeavor. Want to road race? Someone builds a suspension for that. Drag racing more your stripe? They have you covered there too. What follows in this article is an overview of what experts Ron Bramlett of Mustangs Plus and Dan Carlson, chief engineer for Steeda, believe are good ideas for better handling from both your vintage and late-model chassis.

Mild ’65-’70 Small-Block
Engines: The ’65-’68 289/302 4V Hi-Po exhaust manifolds, the
’69 351 Windsor 4V Hi-Po exhaust manifolds, and the
’70 351 Cleveland 4V with stock manifolds
Transmissions: C4 automatic or four-speed
Rear Gears: 3.00:1 with a C4, 3.50 with four-speed
Springs: {{{GT}}} springs on the front and the rear (uses a 1-inch
polyurethane coil spring pad on the ’67-’70)
Shocks: MagnaGas
Sway bars: (front) 1 inch
(rear) none (except for the ’70, which can use the Boss
302 sway bar)
Wheels: 15x7 Styled Steel for the ’65-’67, 15x7 full-chrome Styled
Steel for the ’68-’69, and the ’70 uses 15x7 {{{Magnum}}}
Tires: P205/60-15 radials
Brakes: Stock for car; recommend upgrading the ’65-’66 to dual-
bowl master cylinder for safety
Options: Three-row radiator; recommend duals for all above appli-
cations; use turn-down tips for stock appearance, except
on both the GT and Mach 1 or where stock style dictates
otherwise (Shelby)
Medium ’65-’70 Small-Block
Engines: The '65-'68 302 or stroker kit, the '69 351 Windsor or
stroker kit, the ’70 mildly warmed 351 Cleveland,
aftermarket 4V intake and carb, headers, and dual exhaust
Transmissions: C4 automatic or four-speed
Rear gears: 3.25:1 with C4, 3.89:1 with four-speed; recommend
Traction-Lok
Springs: (front) Magna 620
(rear) Magna 41¼2 leaf
Shocks: MagnaGas
Sway bars: (front) 1 inch
(rear) 3¼4 inch
Wheels: 16x8 Vintage Wheel Works Vintage 45s
Tires: P225/50-16
Brakes: Front disc brakes, mandatory dual-bowl master cylinder
Options: Three-row radiator, rear disc brakes, and an engine
dress-up kit
Hot ’65-’70 Small-Block
Engines: The ’65-’68 302 that uses a 335 or a 347 stroker kit or
a 351 Windsor, the ’69 hot 351 Windsor or big-inch
stroker kit, the ’70 heavily massaged 351 Cleveland,
aftermarket 4V intake and carb, headers, and dual exhaust
Transmissions: C4 automatic, four-speed, or Tremec TKO five-speed
Rear gears: 3.25:1 with C4, 3.89:1 with four-speed, or 4.11 with
five-speed; use Traction-Lok or other locker device
Springs: (front) Magna 620
(rear) Magna five leaf
Shocks: MagnaGas or Spax adjustable
Sway bars: (front) 1 inch or 111/48 inch with polyurethane bushings
(rear) 31/44 inch with polyurethane bushings
Wheels: 17x8 American Racing Custom Wheels Torq-Thrust IIs
Tires: P235/45R17 without rolled fender lips, P245/45R17 with
rolled fender lips
Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes, mandatory dual-bowl master
cylinder
Options: Three-row aluminum radiator, oil cooler, premium brake
pads, lowering springs, complete polyurethane
bushing kit, and Magna racing shackles
Mild ’71-’73 Big-Block
Engines: 429 or 460
Transmissions: C6 automatic or four-speed
Rear gears: 3.25:1 with C6, 3.50 with four-speed
Springs: (front) Magna 650
(rear) Magna four leaf
Shocks: MagnaGas
Sway bars: (front) 1 inch
(rear) none (or use 351 4V four-speed sway bar or stock
bar if so equipped)
Wheels: 15x7 {{{Magnum}}} 500
Tires: P225/60R15 radials
Brakes: Stock for car
Options: Three-row radiator; recommend duals for all above applica-
tions; use turn-down tips for stock appearance, except on the
Mach 1 or where stock style dictates otherwise
Medium ’71-’73 Big-Block
Engines: either a 429 or 460, aftermarket 4V intake and carb and
headers, and dual exhaust
Transmissions: C6 automatic or four-speed
Rear gears: 3.25:1 with C6, 3.91:1 with four-speed; recommend
Traction-Lok
Springs: (front) Magna 650
(rear) Magna five leaf
Shocks: MagnaGas
Sway bars: (front) 1 inch or 11¼8 inch with polyurethane bushings
(rear) 3¼4 inch
Wheels: 15x7 to 16x8
Tires: P225/60R15 or P245/45R16
Brakes: Four-wheel disc, stock front, aftermarket rear, and
premium pads
Options: Three-row radiator, rear disc brakes, and engine dress-up kit
Hot ’71-’73 Big-Block
Engines: 460 or 501
Transmissions: C6 automatic, four-speed
Rear gears: 3.25:1 with C4, 4.11:1 with four-speed; use Traction-Lok or
other locker device
Springs: (front) Magna 750
(rear) Magna 511/42 leaf
Shocks: MagnaGas or Spax adjustable
Sway bars: (front) 1 inch or 111/48 inch with polyurethane bushings
(rear) 31/44 inch with polyurethane bushings
Wheels: 17x8 American Racing Custom Wheels Torq-Thrust IIs
Tires: P255/45R17 or bigger, depending on wheels
Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes (such as Baer)
Options: Four-row aluminum radiator, oil cooler, premium brake pads,
and complete polyurethane bushing kit
Mild ’67-’70 Big-Block
Engine: ’67-’69 stock FE (390 4V/428 4V)
Transmissions: C6 automatic or four-speed
Rear gears: 3.25:1 with C6, 3.50 with four-speed
Springs: (front) Magna 620
(rear) Magna four leaf
Shocks: MagnaGas
Sway bars: (front) 1 inch or 11¼8 inch with
polyurethane bushings
(rear) 3¼4 inch with polyurethane bushings
Wheels: 15x7 Styled Steel for the ’67, 15x7 full-
chrome Styled Steel for the ’68-’69, and
the ’70 uses 15x7 {{{Magnum}}}
Tires: P225/60R15 radials
Brakes: Stock for car; recommend upgrading the
fronts to disc
Options: Three-row radiator; recommend duals for all above
applications; use turn-down tips for stock appearance,
except on both the {{{GT}}} and Mach 1 or where stock
style dictates otherwise (Shelby)
Medium ’67-’70 Big-Block
Engine: ’67-’69 stock FE (390 4V/428 4V) aftermarket aluminum
intake manifold, dual exhaust high-flow mufflers
Transmissions: C6 automatic or four-speed
Rear gears: 3.25:1 with C6, 3.89:1 or 3.91:1 with four-speed;
recommend Traction-Lok
Springs: (front) Magna 620
(rear) Magna 41¼2 leaf
Shocks: MagnaGas
Sway bars: (front) 1 inch with polyurethane bushings
(rear) none (except for the ’70, which can use the Boss
302 sway bar)
Wheels: 16x8 Vintage Wheel Works Vintage 45s
Tires: P225/50-16 or P245/50R16 radials
Brakes: Front disc, rear drum
Options: Three-row aluminum radiator, premium brake pads, and
complete polyurethane bushing kit
Hot ’67-’70 Big-Block
Engine: '67-'69 stock FE (390 4V/428 4V) aftermarket aluminum
2x4V intake manifold, aftermarket aluminum heads,
headers with dual exhaust high-flow mufflers
Transmissions: C6 automatic or four-speed
Rear gears: 3.25:1 with C6, 3.89:1 or 3.91:1 with four-speed;
recommend Traction-Lok
Springs: (front) Magna 750
(rear) Magna five leaf
Shocks: MagnaGas or Spax adjustable
Sway bars: (front) 1 inch with polyurethane bushings
(rear) none (except for the ’70, which can use the Boss
302 sway bar)
Wheels: 17x8 American Racing Custom Wheels Torq-Thrust IIs
Tires: P235/45R17 without rolled fender lips, P245/45R17 with
rolled fender lips
Brakes: Front disc, rear drum
Options: Three-row aluminum radiator, premium brake pads, and
complete polyurethane bushing kit