Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1993 Ford SVT Cobra Front Suspension - Straightening the Slithering Snake Part 1
Maximum Motorsports takes Project Stolen Goods' suspension to the extreme.
If you saw project Stolen Goods, MM&FF's latest project vehicle, on the January '07 cover, you may have noticed that it was perched on jackstands while exposing its rusty suspension and brakes.
When we bought the car, it didn't even have any suspension pieces, so we cobbled up a four-cylinder rearend and some GT spindles and struts we had lying around to make it mobile. In fact. the coil springs that were in it had two coils cut off of each one just so we could set them in without a struggle.
There still are no shocks in the rear, which had the back end bucking all over the place during the move to its new home. Obviously, this was a temporary solution, and this month, we plan to kick off the project by installing a properly performing suspension.
Our plan for Stolen Goods is to exceed the performance level of both the standard '93 Cobra as well as its race-ready brother, the "R" model. That's a pretty tough standard to beat, but one we thought easily accomplished with help from the folks at Maximum Motorsports in San Luis Obispo, California.
Looking for an exceptional suspension setup for the Fox Mustang that doesn't compromise ride quality is not the easiest thing to find, but MM's Chuck Schwynoch offered just what we needed.
The Maximum Motorsports Road & Track Box is a complete package of goods that takes you beyond the average spring and shock upgrade, but stops short of the track-only setup to ensure a comfortable ride to and from your destination, whether it's to the track or to the grocery store. The Road & Track Box includes a laundry list of components that upgrade most all of the stock suspension components.
"The Sport Box is a basic, budget-minded setup that uses Tokico struts and shocks," Schwynoch says. This is a kit that is designed for the average enthusiast looking to lower his/her car and maybe increase its handling and high-speed stability. Since we plan to flog project Stolen Goods at our local autocross as well as open track events, we needed something a bit more than just your basic package.
"The Road & Track kit is as far as you want to go with a street car," Schwynoch says. "Whereas the Maximum Grip box brings big changes to the front suspension geometry with coilovers, the Road & Track Box is primarily for those not wanting to change the stock-style suspension design." That's just what we were looking for.
Adding to the Road & Track Box, Schwynoch also specified Maximum's adjustable rear lower control arms replete with NASCAR-style "weight jack" bolts so we could adjust ride height as need be. He also specified Maximum Motorsports' torque arm to complement the Panhard bar that comes in the Road & Track Box.
"The Mustang four-link came from the '78 Fairmont, and its design was fairly compromised to begin with," Schwynoch says. "It doesn't do anything exceptionally well; in fact, body roll should be controlled by the springs and sway bars, not the control arms as is the case with this setup. The four-link has a tendency to bind up, and when the tires break loose, the handling can be unpredictable. The popularity of the Mustang unfortunately showcases all of its deficiencies due to its old engineering."
The team at Maximum Motorsports took its shop car and set out to design a more current suspension setup for the Fox, and they ended up with a Panhard bar/torque arm setup. "We tried a three-link design during development, but found the torque arm to have noticeably better traction than the three-link with the Panhard bar," Schwynoch says.
In Part 1 of our suspension buildup, we're installing all of the front-end components, as well as the subframe connectors. This includes MM's progressive-rate coil springs, Bilstein struts, urethane sway bar mounts and end links, as well as caster/camber plates and aluminum steering rack bushings, to name a few items.
The full-length subframe connectors will keep our low-mileage Pony's chassis nice and stiff so that the suspension components can do their jobs properly and efficiently. Next month, we plan to tackle the rear of the car by installing the Panhard bar and new adjustable lower control arms, along with our newly built rear-axle assembly.
The torque arm is something we plan to hold off on until we near the end of the project. We'd like to get some seat time with the four-link/Panhard bar setup before we install the torque arm. That way we can give it a more in-depth evaluation, and return to you with the best feedback possible about the change in performance.
That said, check out how we renovated the business end of our snake, and be sure to check in with us next month as we follow up with the rear suspension and get ready to make this project a roller.