Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Suspension Upgrade - Project Redheaded Step Child Part 5
Project RSC gets maximized with a new suspension, wheels, and tires.
Maximum Motorsports does offer complete suspension systems capable of winning on the track (the company's achievements in the American Iron series attest to this fact), but solid bushings, motor mounts, and 3.5 degrees of negative camber are not what we would consider street friendly. Know that if you decide to go that direction, Maximum Motorsports has you covered, just as it did with our maximum performance street suspension.
Though ride quality was an important consideration for our daily driver, so too were improvements in handling. Wanting a serious canyon carver, we put our requirements to the experts at Maximum Motorsports, who suggested its Maximum Grip Box. This is the most complete system offered by the company, and it is employed by many successful Mustang racers. By selecting the correct combination of shock/strut valving and spring rates, we were able to tailor the Maximum Grip Box to suit our needs.
The extensive component list included front and rear coilover conversion kits, Bilstein sport shocks and struts, a tubular K-member and brace, a rear Panhard bar system, a torque arm, tubular front and rear control arms, full-length subframe connectors, camber/caster plates, adjustable tie-rod ends, aluminum rack bushings, a solid steering shaft, an adjustable rear swaybar, urethane swaybar bushings and endlinks, and a front strut tower brace (which we did not use).
Installation of all the individual components in the Maximum Grip box is much more involved than your usual shock, spring, and swaybar swap, but the handling improvements are definitely commensurate with the effort. If you only want to dump your Stang in the weeds, then you can save money by just cutting your stock springs. It's going to handle like crap, but at least it will be lowered. If, however, you're looking for a serious G machine, go with the Maximum Grip Box.
What I liked best about the Maximum Motorsports approach is that it came from a racing background. Being a road racer at heart, I appreciate what it takes to make suspension components work in this harsh environment. Designing and building components is just one phase, something that should be followed by actually testing them on the track under race conditions. The finest tools are forged from the furnace of competition. While the MM guys subject their suspension components to the rigors of the racetrack, they also took the next step by building a test fixture that allowed them to visualize (measure and document) the deflection caused by suspension loads. This fixture (basically the rear section of a Mustang flipped upside down) illustrated the binding issues inherent in the factory four-link rear suspension, and that urethane bushings at both ends of the control arms often aggravated this binding by not allowing angular motion of the upper arms (something provided to some extent by the deflection of the softer rubber bushings). This testing produced a rear suspension that eliminated the binding inherent in the four-link design.
There's a lot to like about the Maximum Grip Box, but the attention to detail sets one system apart from the rest. The first components installed on Project RSC were the MM subframe connectors, which were full length and even featured provisions to tie in the seat mounting bolts. What we liked about these connectors was that the seat braces were not connected to the main braces, and were instead welded in place after welding on the connectors. There is nothing more frustrating that having to wrestle with getting the seat-mount bolt holes to line up while properly positioning the connectors on the frame. Being able to weld them in after the fact allows for the production tolerances inherent in the shape of the floor as well as distortion that can occur from jacking up the car incorrectly. We also liked that the bend in the connector necessary to contour the shape of the floor was triangulated by welding a plate over the top, adding even more strength to the connector system. The connectors were powdercoated black, requiring only minor touch-up (with black spray paint) to the welded areas.
After measuring the stock ride height, the rear suspension was disassembled to make way for the MM torque arm and Panhard bar systems. The rear suspension also included replacing the quad-shock factory setup with a coilover assembly featuring Bilstein shocks and Hypercoil springs. Given our street orientation, we decided on sport shock valving to work in conjunction with the 250-pound rear spring rates. The coilover system offered a weight savings over the individual quad shock and spring combination, allowed adjustments in ride height, and provided the ability to corner weight the car to maximize handling.