Built from high-strength tubular steel, CNC designed, powdercoated blue, and fitted with Energy Suspensions Polyurethane bushings, the Factory Five control arms are good looking and relatively easy to install.
We visited DB Performance Engineering in Rosemead, California, where Danny Bahn was nice enough to help us install the arms on a 92 LX. Although the arms are a fairly easy bolt-on which can be done in your garage with the right tools, it helps to have a hoist and someone who has done it before.
The first thing to do is remove the rear wheels. Once the brakes and suspension are exposed its easy to see why Fox-bodied Mustang suspensions are so simple.
No coilovers or IRS back here; just your basic solid axle, coil springs, shocks, and control arms combination.
The coil springs have to be removed before the lower control arms, but the first step is to unbolt the after-cat system. The muffler is in the way of the control arms front mounting bolt. To alleviate this, all you have to do is loosen the after-cat part of the exhaust and move the muffler out of the way.
Next, remove the factory sway bar, which is bolted to the stock arms.
To remove the coil springs, support the car by the frame, allowing the rearend to droop as far down as it will go. Usually, you can pull the spring out by hand, but sometimes youll have to use a pry bar to coax it off its perch. Be careful, because a spring under pressure can attack. Occasionally, you may have to remove one of the mounting bolts for the lower control arms to free the spring. If so, put some pressure on the arm with a jack to keep it from snapping loose and allowing the spring to take flight.
With the spring out of the way, remove the bolts holding the lower arms and pull them free. Notice the stamped channel-section construction of the stock control arms. They are guaranteed to flex more than the beefy Factory Five arms.
The one saving grace about the stock arms is the fact that the rubber bushings do a much better job of suppressing the bumps in the road which travel throughout the entire car. The aftermarket arms are built with polyurethane bushings which dont deflect nearly as much under the pressure of cornering or weight transfer. On the other hand, the stock rubber bushings deflect a lot. Ride quality will suffer a tad with the new arms. Theres always a trade-off for better performance.
The stock rubber bushings are retained in the differential mounts for the upper arms, to allow some rearend articulation.
Now Danny can install the new lower control arm. It may take a little elbow grease to maneuver the ends of the arms into the slots.
Insert the bolts through the holes. Once finger-tight, make sure you re-install the rubber ring that came on the stock arms. It prevents metal-to-metal contact between the coil spring and the arm. Otherwise the noise and vibration would be brutal.
The upper arms are much easier to install because we dont have to deal with the coil springs, and we dont have to press the old rubber bushings out. All it requires is the removal of a few bolts and then installing the new arms.
Heres a great shot of both types of upper arms. On the left is the stock stamped steel armugly. On the right is the new and mo-better Factory Five Racing arm half installed.
All thats left now is to tighten the exhaust back up, reinstall the sway bar, and put the wheels back on. From the instant we rolled out of Dannys shop we noticed a huge difference. The new arms make the car feel a lot tighter off-the-line and while making turns.
If you want to go quick down the 1,320 (or fast around corners), one of the best bolt-on improvements you can make to your Mustang is rear control arms. The stock control arms arent bad for a stock setup, but once those engine and suspension mods get installed, its time to ditch the channel-steel arms and floppy rubber bushings in favor of something beefier.
Fairly new to the late-model 5.0 world are the guys at Factory Five Racing out of Wareham, Massachusetts. Owners Mark and Dave Smith started this company about 10 years ago, primarily to build replicas of 427 Cobras. Their goal was to give the home mechanic (who has the skills to build it) a Cobra replica kit, and finish the car for under $20,000. Well, that goal has been accomplished, and they have many satisfied customers driving around in Cobras. Now, Factory Five is going after the late-model Mustang crowd, and its first product is a set of upper and lower control arms. Designed from tubular 1020 DOM steel, powdercoated throughout, and enhanced with Energy Suspensions polyurethane bushings, these boxed 3/16-inch steel units can reportedly withstand over 1,000 hp. The most attractive thing about these control arms, and what keeps them continuously off the shelves, is the great price. Where else can you buy a pair of lower control arms for $149 and get the uppers for $50 more? At these prices, FFR cant make them fast enough to keep up with demand.
We recently installed a set on a 92 LX. This is the same car that will be receiving a host of other upgrades in future stories for its Silver State Classic debut. So in essence, we could call this Silver State Projects first modification. We took our 92 LX to DB Performance Engineering in Rosemead, California, where Danny Bahn did the installation for us. Having done many other installations for 5.0 before, we know that Dannys work is top-notch. Dannys own pride and joy, an ATI-blown 65 yellow coupe is a work of art inside and out, and it does low 11s down the track. If youre ever near his shop, we recommend stopping by just to look at it.