Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
April 1, 2007

After weeks of deliberation, we called American Muscle and ordered a set of its FR500 replica wheels with a sinister black finish. We Photoshopped a few wheels on Stolen Goods and felt that the semi-R model appearance looked great against the Teal hue.

In choosing the FR500-style wheel from American Muscle, we were able to order a staggered fitment with 18x9-inch (5.85 back-space, 24 mm offset) wheels for the front and fat 18x10s (6.38 backspace, 22 mm offset) for the rear. Though the 18x10s were designed for the SN-95 cars, they fit perfectly underneath the Fox-body with the stock track width.

The master cylinder swap was easy for us, as we didn't have to drain anything. Just make sure you pick up a set of line wrenches so you don't round off any of the fittings. This is especially easy to do with older or high-mileage cars.

Up front, we ran into a bit of an issue with the hub of the Baer brake assembly and center hole of the front wheels. There is a slight protrusion into the center hole, which prevents the wheel from sitting flush on the rotor, however a 1/4-inch wheel spacer moved it out enough to bolt up the wheel. We're going to look into the issue further to see if we can mill the wheel or the hub to fit flush, as the wheel sticks out of the fender farther than we would like it to. We would also like to have the lug nuts thread down the studs more since we will be exerting quite a bit of lateral load on the wheel/hub assembly.

The FR500-style wheels are available in Black, Chrome Anthracite, and Hypercoat finishes, and American Muscle offers numerous center cap designs to choose from, not to mention lug nuts. The 18x9s retail for a mere $179.99 and the 18x10s are just $189.99, though last time we checked, both were on sale for about $150.00. American Muscle offers free shipping on all of its wheels, and it can put together a wheel/tire package as well.

Obviously, tires are critical in a car that's destined for road-course duty, and since we plan to drive it on the street a bit, we didn't want to go with a full-race tire, at least not yet. That said, we called up the folks at Falken Tire Corporation and ordered a set of Azenis RT-615 radials.

The RT-615 is a street and competition tire that features an improved motorsports-grade cap compound to maintain grip over a wide range of operating temperatures. Falken also increased the internal void ratio for enhanced wet grip and aquaplane resistance under competition conditions. The non-directional tire design allows for easy rotation, and the 200 tread-wear rating and A/A UTQG rating qualifies it for SCCA Street Tire Class competition.