Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Mach 1 Project Build Installing Subframe Connectors - In With The New
MM&FF Introduces Its Newest Project, An '03 Mach 1.
As part of any handling project, numbers on a road course or autocross are very important too. With little notice it's difficult to get track time, but luckily our friends at the Florida Corvette Racing Club invited us to an autocross test and tune at Hernando County Airport in Brooksville, Florida. When we arrived at the airport, the skies decided to open up right after we pulled the Mach 1 out of the trailer.
Torrential downpours would deter most people, but we came to drive. After watching a few cars in front of us spin across the course, it was our turn to head out. Traction was nonexistent and the traction-control system took over with less than minor throttle application. As the rain subsided and the sun came out to dry the track surface, we thought it was time to stop playing games and switch to our trusty Nitto NT01 R-compound tires. I lined up, ready to race, and launched hard out of the gate, but our day would end early as I took hold of the shifter, pulled Second gear, and found most of the assembly in my hand detached from the rest of the transmission.
While most people would be alarmed by such a catastrophic failure, it was a minor concern once the comedic banter and relentless sarcasm from my coworkers started-I knew this was something I wouldn't live down any time soon. It goes without saying that our day was done. No problem, we'd go home and make the car better.
Back At The Shop
With any Mustang project, stiffening the chassis is very important. So much so that we thought it would be the perfect place to get our build underway-in addition to replacing our once mechanically sound shifter.
Kenny Brown has been in the Mustang suspension game for a long time. Even as the Mustang has evolved and its suspension design has changed, Kenny Brown's engineering and principles have remained consistent. Kenny Brown's Extreme Matrix Subframe System will provide all of the chassis support our new project is going to need.
We started by removing the factory-supplied bolt-in frame connectors. Although these add some level of chassis support, the chassis will be far more rigid once the Extreme Matrix kit is welded into place, allowing us to put the car through its paces without twisting the unibody. Kenny Brown's subframe connectors are the first pieces installed in the kit. The connectors bolt on to the front seat bolts, which ties the floor into the chassis and increases the stiffening effect. With the subframe connectors loosely in place, we clamped the jacking rails in place and lined up the holes for the fasteners that hold the rocker panel where it needs to be.
Next up was the Matrix Bars, which add six points of connection between the jacking rails and subframe connectors. After some minor trimming to ensure a tight fit, we tacked our bars into place and got ready to weld.
Next on out list was Kenny Brown's strut tower brace. With Kenny Brown slowly bringing all of its products back to market, one if its customers was nice enough to lend us one for the '03-'04 Mach 1. This triangulated bar connects the front strut towers and the cowl panel at the back of the engine bay. Although this is an important part of the car that responds well to reinforcement, the Kenny Brown strut tower brace was not compatible with the aftermarket caster/camber plates installed on our Mach 1. When we dive into our suspension in a later story, Kenny Brown's Caster Plus kit will take the place of the units currently keeping tabs on our alignment, and we will install the strut tower brace then.
To complete the package, Brown also shipped us a rear shock tower brace. The brace bolts into the trunk and stiffens the rear of the car by connecting the upper shock mounts. Two holes are drilled into each shock tower, along with one hole in the trunk floor, and are used for mounting points and help keep everything tight.