Sharad Raldiris
August 4, 2010

Our street/strip project is now moving in fast-forward. In the last two installments, we detailed the installation of our Strange Engineering 9-inch rearend with UPR/Chris Alston's Chassisworks suspension and the buildup of our 427ci Windsor small-block. Currently, the car is awaiting the installation of a full chrome-moly rollcage at Rigid Race Cars. While the drivetrain was out, we met with Rob Lewis at Rigid to install the front-suspension system.

Not surprisingly, we used all of the same brands on the front end as we used in the rear. We started with UPR's tried-and-true Pro-Series chrome-moly K-member kit. It is a lightweight alternative to the stamped-steel factory assembly. Its tubular chrome-moly construction also offers more clearance for exhaust, oil pans, and other items. Our friend Jeremy Martorella at UPR also hooked us up with its beautiful billet-aluminum caster/camber plates, a bumpsteer kit, and a manual-brake conversion kit.

For struts, we stayed with VariShock QuickSet 2 double-adjustable coilovers and 175-pound springs from Chris Alston's Chassisworks. These coilover struts are available in two lengths, a half-inch shorter and 2-inches shorter than factory. We chose the half-inch version in an effort to keep the suspension geometry as close to stock as possible.

Of course, we used Strange Engineering's four-piston, billet-aluminum Pro Race brakes to match our rear brakes, but they posed a unique problem. One of the minor modifications to the factory spindles that must be performed in order to install the Strange brakes involves the use of a drill press. Your humble author is deathly afraid of drill presses, the result of an accident with a drill press involving his wedding band that almost cost him a finger (user error)! Thankfully Mark Wilkinson at Racecraft has taken care of that problem. Racecraft offers 2-inch-drop spindles for use with factory or aftermarket brakes. Mark's spindles for aftermarket brakes are designed for direct bolt-on compatibility with Strange Engineering brakes.

Additionally, the Racecraft spindles offer another outstanding feature. The company's 2-inch drop allows for proper suspension geometry at the appropriate ride height. Fox Mustangs can work quite well on the dragstrip when they sit a couple of inches lower than stock. However, the MacPherson-strut front suspension does all kinds of naughty things when significantly lowered, not the least of which is severe bumpsteer and suspension bind in the bushings. These factors can contribute to unpredictable, even dangerous handling at high speed. The Racecraft spindles allow the car to sit lower for better handling and aerodynamics without compromising the proper geometry of the suspension. It truly is one of those rare win-win scenarios.

These spindles require different tie-rod ends, so Mark shipped those, as well as his spindle-nut and shim kit. As is always the case with Racecraft, the quality of these parts is second to none.

Rounding out the front-end renovation is a manual rack-and-pinion installation kit from Flaming River Industries. In the first phase of our Fox buildup, we simply removed the power-steering pump from the engine to lose weight and free up some horsepower. It was a cheap and effective modification because we were working with a tight budget. However, it was less than desirable for a variety of reasons. The steering effort of a power rack with no pump was over the top, and frankly I'm not sure of its safety. Also, the rag-joint in the factory steering shaft was taking a beating without the power assist.

Sooner or later, you just have to do the job correctly. So we placed the call to Flaming River and John Jennings set us up with its complete manual-rack kit. It includes the company's manual steering rack, steering shaft with low-profile forged universal joints, mounting bushings, and tie-rod ends. Not only are these parts much better suited for performance duty, but they flat-out look great installed with the rest of our front-end components. All told, this kit weighs over 30 pounds less than the factory power steering system.

Follow the captions as we break out the jackstands and handtools to install our new front end.

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