Richard Holdener
December 15, 2006
We stepped up to a set of Nitto Extreme NT555 tires for Project RSC-275/40/18s for the front and slightly larger 285/35/18s out back. Despite the thinner sidewall, the ride quality of the Nittos was much better than our original 17s. Fresh from Ford Racing came these 18x9.5 Cobra R wheels. We liked the looks, but more importantly, the OEM quality (complete with full factory testing) and fit.

There I was, driving home from a successful three-day adventure with the guys at Maximum Motorsports, minding my own business, when all hell nearly broke loose. I was tooling along with the cruise control thankfully set at 70 mph (a serious CHP presence had prohibited running any faster) preparing for the upcoming on ramp that merged the 101 freeway onto the 405 S.

Having just stopped for fuel, I took the liberty of supersizing myself at the local golden arches. French fries and McNuggets (come on-they're suppose to be white meat) are certainly traveling food, but only with proper preparation. I reengaged the freeway only after securing my bladder-buster-size beverage in the appropriate beverage containment system, the fries within easy reach.

I merged over to the far right (slow) lane in preparation for the freeway junction, switching off the cruise control and dropping into Fourth gear in anticipation of the slower traffic that invariably accompanies any type of turn. Seemingly out of nowhere, some punk in a BMW 3-series made the proverbial big move, positioning himself right in front of me, which forced me to take emergency evacuation maneuvers. I came this close to spitting out my fries and dropping my McNugget.

This set off a chain reaction, the likes of which had me, Mr. BMW, an Explorer, and a Celica performing all kinds of unnatural acts on a public road. With seemingly inches to spare (probably more like yards), I missed clipping both the front of the Explorer and the rear of the Celica and "safely" merged into the left lane and then onto the 405 freeway. To my surprise, everyone on the 405 seemed to be driving considerably slower. Glancing down at my speedo, I realized it wasn't so much that they were going slow as I was going fast-triple-digit, throw-you-in-jail kind of fast.

The stability of the Mustang during this exercise was rock solid, providing me both the confidence and grip to not only motor around the offramp (at ludicrous speed) but to safely make evasive maneuvers. It was this encounter from which I drew a scientific conclusion: This suspension kicks ass!

Normally, I would strive to provide real-world, back-to-back data generated through extensive testing when performing such an elaborate, and effective, suspension upgrade. Unfortunately, only Editor Jim Campisano and Tech Editor Evan Smith get to rent dragstrips and participate in scheduled track days at the MM&FF Road Course, leaving the West Coast Redheaded Stepchildren (both author and vehicle) to fend for themselves (it sucks being a latchkey contributing editor).

While lap times before and after the suspension upgrade might provide some measure of the handling improvements offered by any suspension upgrade, the vast majority of Mustang owners do not frequent road courses. Like mine, their adventures are confined to frontage roads, freeway offramps, or their own special mountainous test route. While Project RSC may well see some open track action down the line, it is first and foremost a daily driven street car. The suspension upgrades were chosen with this in mind, as there were certainly changes to be made to our upgrade choices to further improve ultimate lateral acceleration. But we are now at a level that the changes require compromises to both ride quality and tire wear.