Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Suspension Upgrade - Project Redheaded Step Child Part 5
Project RSC gets maximized with a new suspension, wheels, and tires.
The coilover kits were designed to maximize bump travel-critical in a lowered Stang-and featured hard anodizing (not just a cosmetic coating) and a tight fit between the threaded sleeves and shock/strut bodies. This precision fit ensured that the lower spring perch remained square to the strut or shock, thus preventing the spring from arcing and rubbing on the sleeve. On the front coilover assemblies, O-ring seals were applied to seal the thrust bearings from dirt and water. The MM rear coilovers also featured bumpstops to replace the factory (rear-axle mounted) units.
The rear suspension also received a set of new tubular lower control arms. The lower arms featured urethane bushings for the chassis end and a spherical rod end for the axle end. Since the suspension was being converted to a torque-arm setup, we ditched the factory upper control arms.
According to Maximum Motorsports, differing the bushings used in each end of the control arm is critical for proper operation. Since the control arms (both upper and lower) do not move in a direct up and down pattern (they prescribe an arc), side movement must be allowed. With the stock bushings, this angular movement is provided by deflection in the bushings.
Unfortunately, these soft rubber bushings also allow fore and aft movement, which offers minimal control over axle wind-up. Many tuners opt for urethane bushings at both ends in an effort to control the bushing deflection, but MM feels this also minimizes the angular movement. The use of urethane bushings on both ends can actually decrease handling as the system is much more likely to experience bind. Once bound, the deflection comes from the sheetmetal surrounding the mount-not a good situation. By combining a spherical bearing on one end and urethane on the other, all the fore and aft deflection is eliminated while allowing the arms to travel freely through their natural arc.
With the removal of the upper rear control arms, it was necessary to control side-to-side movement of the rear axle. This was accom-plished with a Panhard bar. Just as the factory rubber bushings allow deflection that can cause axle wind-up under hard acceleration, this same bushing deflection can create havoc under lateral acceleration by allowing side-to-side movement of the rear axle. Naturally, you want the rear axle to stay positively located under hard cornering, something the Panhard bar does much better than the factory four-link since the bar is located in line with the cornering loads, where the factory upper control arms are mounted at a 45-degree angle. Ideally, the Panhard bar should be as long as possible and mounted level to the ground. The MM Panhard bar setup is adjustable to keep the bar parallel to the ground at a variety of different ride heights.
The MM bar also measures 38 inches in length, thereby minimizing the amount of rear axle movement associated with the arc of the rod's movement. Unlike some systems, the MM Panhard bar can be used with factory and aftermarket exhaust systems that maintain the factory routing. One feature I liked was the use of frame inserts to eliminate collapsing the rear subframe mounting points.
Before finishing off the rear suspension with the torque arm and adjustable rear swaybar, the gang at Maximum Motorsports turned their atten-tion to the K-member, front tubular control arms, and coilover assemblies. They made quick work of removing the factory front suspension compo-nents, including the heavy K-member. Compared to the factory unit, the MM tubular K-member offered a weight savings of 14 pounds.