5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
1991 Ford Mustang LX - Project Cheaper Sleeper
Simple suspension upgrades help our unassuming, underestimated stocker win the big one
We hope by now you've had an opportunity to read our introductory report on our latest Mustang-build project (“Beg, Borrow & Deal,” Jan. '13, p. 74) and fully digest the scope of the modifying/rejuvenation effort for our '91 hatchback LX, which we've dubbed Cheaper Sleeper. For those of you who are a bit behind in your reading, Sleeper is a stone-stock Fox that Tech Editor KJ Jones picked up for a song back in early 2012.
As we explained in that first report, despite the 20-nearly-30 years on '86-'93 Mustangs, stockers are still available—and affordable. They're great candidates for modifications that won't obliterate your bank account. In this series we plan to present an assortment of such mods detailing how ingenuity, research, and smart shopping can produce a cool street Pony. While the future holds a drivetrain update that we can't wait to tell you about (and consider perfect for a daily driven Fox), the 'initial steps involve suspension changes to ensure traction is available once Cheaper Sleeper starts making bigger rear-wheel steam.
Our first report detailed a low-buck lowering job that was done on the stock LX. In addition to a set of springs, Strange adjustable shocks and struts were added at all four corners, and General's G-MAX ultra-high-performance boots were mounted on the stock, 16-inch Pony wheels. For this project, while the mods of course are important, our desire to keep things stock-appearing is actually critical for this project 'Stang.
The Strange struts and shocks we installed on 'Sleeper truly are unnoticeable assets, as they allow us to adjust and dial-in valving ratios that will help the car perform well on the street and the track. However, for this particular effort, we're further enhancing the LX's rear suspension and increasing traction potential by adding Maximum Motorsports' Torque Arm Package (PN MMTASS-3; $1,153.25) and a set of full-length subframe connectors (PN MMFL-5B; $134.97).
The reason for installing this particular setup—which actually converts the 'Stang's rear suspension from the OEM four-link–style to a three-link system with a Panhard bar—is to maximize the stocker's straight-line bite in low-power/street-tire trim. As you'll see, the upgrade is predominately a bolt-on effort (welding is required for the subframe connectors and torque-arm-crossmember tabs), which we entrusted to the skilled hands of Source Interlink Media's Grant Peterson.
The chassis dyno, the street, and the dragstrip are the typical test locations for these mods. This Maximum upgrade on Cheaper Sleeper was completed in time for us to evaluate the chassis' performance on LA's 405 Freeway and the streets of the San Fernando Valley, and more importantly, at the NMCA West's Lucas Oil West Coast Shootout at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
Horse Sense: Los Angeles Police Chief Ralph Parker and Sergeant Bud Coons are credited as the two main influences behind the first NHRA-sanctioned event ever held on the dragstrip in Pomona, California. (In 1952, the two hot-rod enthusiasts convinced government officials that allowing hot rodders to race in a designated section of the LA Fairgrounds was safer than racing in the street.) In 1999, local officials discontinued all modern-day street-legal drag programs that were held at Pomona due to complaints of excessive noise and other concerns of area residents. Nearly 60 years after it first started, ProMedia co-owner and president Charlie Harmon convinced the powers that be to once-again allow Sportsman/Outlaw-style Street Car racing for the NMCA West's biggest event of its inaugural 2012 season.