Pete Epple Technical Editor
May 12, 2011

For many builders, a SEMA car is all about the bling. Shiny things grab your attentionyou’re drawn to the kind of over-the-top awesomeness that you just can’t seem to take your eyes off. But sometimes what’s hiding beneath the surface can be equally as impressive.

This month we look at another stage of the initial build of our AMSOIL Mustang GT SEMA project--namely suspension, brakes, wheels, and tires.

When the car rolled out of the spray booth at Visual FX, it had an entirely new super-aggressive persona. The stripe package coupled with the realistic blue-fire graphics set our AMSOIL GT apart from the crowd, at SEMA or otherwise. It flat-out looked mean, but it was missing two major elementsthe right wheels and tires, and the perfect stance. Fortunately for us, this was easily remedied.

Our AMSOIL Mustang was based around a drag-race-themed ’11 Mustang GT. With the Ford Racing supercharger and Kook’s exhaust, the Four-Valve 5.0- liter was making 539 rwhp, so it was easy to match the suspension components to our power production. We also knew we would expand the output in the future, so we made sure the new components would work well with our current power level, as well as with higher horsepower levels.

The suspension upgrades started with coilover struts from Strange Engineering. These double-adjustable units for the S197 Mustang bolt right into the stock location with no modifications to the spindles or strut tower. The weight of the body now rests on 2.5-inch, 14-inch-long coils with a spring rate of 200 lb/in. This setup allows us to not only fine-tune the dampening characteristics for optimum track performance, but we can also fine-tune the ride height for the perfect look and suspension travel.

The Strange coilovers do not have provisions for the sway bar to re-attach, so we simply removed it. This also helped shave a few pounds off the nose and will certainly help the Mustang transfer weight on launch. With the coilovers in place, we shifted our attention to the binders.

Strange Engineering also sent a set of its Pro Race steel front brakes. These non-vented slotted rotors are not designed for street use, but it gave us the super-aggressive race look we wanted. Should we decide to hit the street, we’ll likely switch to a different set of front brakes. To finish off the front, we turned to Weld racing for its Magnum Drag 2.0 one-piece front wheels. The hoops measure in at 15x3.5-inches, and the black and silver-anodized finished adds a sinister look to the Kona Blue exterior. We wrapped the Magnum fronts in Moroso DS-2 rubber, which are intended for on-track use only.

Once the front was buttoned up, we shifted our attention to the rear. The first pieces to go were the stock lower control arms. Blow-By Racing sent us a set of its billet lower control arms for the S197 Mustang. These solid lowers are clear-anodized with polyurethane bushings on both sides (spherical bushings are also available on one or both sides).

With stance being an important part of the project, the stock rear springs were the next to go. BMR Fabrication was tapped for a set of its rear lowering springs for the ’05-and-up Mustang. These 130-lb/in specific-rate springs lower the rear of the car 1.5 inches, which will complement the lowered front suspension. BMR also sent us one of its adjustable Panhard rods and the brace to go with it. This gave us the ability to center the rearend housing under the car once it’s been lowered, as the stock Panhard bar would push the rear to one side.

We finished off the rear with Weld Racing’s Magnum III rear wheels. The 15x10-inch wheels were accented with functional black-anodized bead-locks to hold the rear hides in place during hard launches. These serve a purpose and looked great at the show. The wheels were then wrapped in Nitto NT555R rubber, which measure 325/50R15.

In order to fit the 15-inch wheels, the swaybar mounts had to be cut off for clearance. With the brackets cut off, the hoops bolted right up. The massive meats filled the wheelwells perfectly and looked super-aggressive under our AMSOIL Mustang GT.

With the initial build phases complete, there is only one thing left to dotrack-test it! Check back next month as we cut loose on the 1,320 with our AMSOIL Mustang GT.

Sometimes what’s hiding beneath the surface can be equally as impressive.

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