Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
February 16, 2012

Last month we introduced our latest project, an '85 LX coupe. Destined for the open track, our max-effort, four-eyed Fox will also be required to perform just as well on the street. We laid out a few of the core components, including the FRPP Coyote crate engine and Controls Pack, Tremec T-56 Magnum transmission from American Powertrain, and a slew of stuff from Kenny Brown Performance (KB).

Along with showing you some of the parts, we also provided a few options for paint scheme in renderings by John McBride. And to make things even more interesting, we haven't even chosen a name for the project yet. Hopefully, you read our first installment and sent in your ideas.

Next on our agenda was to get cracking on the car itself. Since the engine and transmission were already removed, we started on the interior. The few pieces that we are going to reuse need to be dyed black anyway, so we went ahead and stripped the interior bare. Except for the parking brake assembly and steering column, nothing remained.

We removed and set aside the engine and chassis harnesses, as some will be reused and others modified later to accommodate our FRPP Controls Pack. We'll be rerouting and hiding as much as possible, as we'll be giving just as much attention to detail as any other project we've ever done.

Since the framework of the build will be constructed using a combination of chassis-stiffening and safety components from KB, it seemed only rational to do that next. A phone call to Kenny Brown himself validated our hypothesis. "Think of building a car like building a house," says Brown, "and the chassis is like the foundation. You don't build a house until you pour a good, solid foundation."

When it comes to the flexible properties of the Fox chassis, a solid foundation is what you need for extreme-use builds like ours. The disco-era uni-body design of the platform is great for street and light track use, but leaves a lot on the table when stepping up to extreme use like ours will see.

"The Matrix System places four full triangulations on each side, which provides exceptional rigidity," says Brown. This allows the suspension to work as designed, without unpredictable reactions caused by flex in the chassis. And at only 45 pounds, the benefit overshadows the weight addition. "The weight is low and in the center of the car," says Brown. "This helps handling immensely."

Before we just started welding in all this cool stuff, we gave the underside a good cleaning. And we don't mean just spraying it down with some brake parts cleaner or washing it with soapy water and a rag. We used professional-grade cleaners and degreasers, as well as a 2,200-psi pressure washer, which worked well. Short of removing the factory undercoating, our coupe's belly was as clean and smooth as ever.

Since the six-point Street Cage was a prototype for the new KB line, we wanted to make sure the mounting bolts wouldn't interfere with the Matrix brace. So we installed the cage using the provided hardware, but tightened the nuts and bolts by hand only.

Pre-fitting the Matrix system proved that the two would, in fact, interfere. Kenny Brown is using our feedback to correct the problem, so you won't have to worry about this issue. But we're going to weld ours in place anyway.

With all of our now-unnecessary rollbar hardware out of the way, we began installation of the Extreme Matrix System. Our coupe had a set of subframe connectors already installed, but because they won't work with the KB Matrix System, we had to remove them.

Mocked in place with locking C-clamps, we tacked everything in place first. After ensuring no other problems would arise, we welded everything in place.

Something else to consider are brake lines. The stock rear brake line must be moved aside to install the Matrix on the passenger side. Since we removed ours (as well as the stock fuel lines), we'll just find a new routing for our new ones or have custom lines made when the time comes.

Check back next month as we mock up the engine and transmission. We'll also finish up the engine bay, paint the underside, and pre-fit our new A/C unit before we send our coupe to paint.

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