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accordionfolder New Reader
10/11/11 10:27 p.m.

Hello all,

I'm by (previous) conditions a Honda guy. I know my way well around all things FWD and Honda. Well, I've had an urge lately (and the financial ability) to want to try something with a bit more .... GO.

So, the standard fast car for cheap seems to be the Fox body mustangs. Can someone give me a run down of what I can expect? Can they handle like a honda? Or will I be fighting the whole time? Any other cars I should be considering? I would like to spend between 5-10k. If this is the wrong place or a dumb question, just redirect me please.


**Edit Ha! I meant 93 ... sorry about that.

pres589 Dork
10/11/11 11:10 p.m.

Do you own the '93 in question or are you just looking at them?

There's about a thousand ways to skin this cat. What are you looking for, all around street car? Something to race at some level / some class? Do you want V8 torque, or maybe have your hand at turbocharging the 2.3 four cylinder, or something else?

From 1979 to 2003, outside of the later Cobra's with their IRS (issues), the Mustang is basically the same chassis. Major changes at 1994 and it's probably stuff you want. They all suffer bump steer at the front in stock form, and the rear suspension is "interesting" or "challenging" or "a pile of cash to make right" depending on your point of view.

More info will get you more and better help.

accordionfolder New Reader
10/11/11 11:37 p.m.

I am just looking at them currently. I reallllly don't like the 94+ mustangs (i'm a boxy kind of a guy). I would like something that is unreasonably fast (which I've heard the 5.0's do pretty easily), but still handles decently. I'll probably gut it to loose some weight.

What kinks does the suspension inherently have? Is there a good source on info for these cars in general? I don't mind doing research, I just can't find good info on making it turn, etc. (lot's of info on making it go fast though...).

So, auto-X car, still streetable, hopefully a 3rd gen, HAS TORQUE, maybe supercharged.

So pretty much a honda with a big motor/RWD....

plance1 Dork
10/12/11 5:28 a.m.

You want 86 and newer

stan SuperDork
10/12/11 6:38 a.m.

I'm embarking on the Mustang journey myself. I wanted something to build though and have started much (much) cheaper. With 5-10k to work with you should meet your goals. I would look into some of the many Mustang forums out there and just have a look-see. You'll find the common problems and solutions pretty quickly.

Off the top of my head:

Power is not the issue with the Fox-bodies. Handling is the weak point and there's a lot of information out there to fix this. Parts are easy to come by and there are companies like Latemodel Restoration and the Jegs/ Summit Racing types that can probably get you anything you need.

In short I think you picked a good car!

Keep me (us) informed on your pursuit!

ddavidv SuperDork
10/12/11 6:40 a.m.

This fine magazine did a series on a Mustang GT project car that did an excellent job of explaining why the Fox chassis suspension design sucks donkey balls and how to go about fixing it correctly. It's been a few years ago, so not sure how available the back issues would be. Send JG an email as I think he was the guy who built that one.

These cars are extremely popular in NASA's American Iron series, so you can probably get good advice or info talking to some of those guys. When I decided to go racing, I considered running a Mustang. The high cost of fixing the suspension, plus the exponentially higher cost/frequency of consumables (tires, brakes, clutches) pushed me into a lower horsepower car (BMW) where I think I'm ultimately much happier. There is nothing like the roar of a V8 though.

81cpcamaro Reader
10/12/11 6:51 a.m.

The Fox Mustangs do need help in the suspension department. But luckily, there are plenty of part to fix it. Maximum Motorsports and Griggs Racing are two excellent sources. Like ddavidv said, talk with American Iron folks for what works best. Fox Mustangs aren't terrible handling cars, just not the best out there, but they do make up for it with loads of fun from the right pedal, with plenty of go-fast goodies out there. You should be able to get a lot of used go-fast stuff off CL or Ebay, too.

pres589 Dork
10/12/11 7:06 a.m.

Basically, the rear axle isn't that well controlled in any direction and is also in a state of bind basically as soon as it moves up and down. The front has bump steer and camber curve issues. It's a question of how much you want to spend fixing these issues.

There are some basic coil over and bumpsteer correcting kits from Maximum Motorsports and Griggs Racing for the front. The rear has a lot of options from a number of companies like MM and Griggs. Best thing to do as well is to stiffen the chassis with subframe connectors and other such things.

accordionfolder New Reader
10/12/11 8:45 a.m.

Bah, I'm torn now.

I'm getting a TIG welder in the near future and wanted to try some fabrication. It seems as though it might be cheaper/more fun/a good learning experience to build a 5.0 BMW ......

I really value good handling in a car, so that's a problem....

Thanks for all the information, I'm digging in a bit to find out more, but you guys jump started me in the right direction.

PS: I am in no way hating on the potential or ability of Hondas! I love them, I just want to try something different.

jstein77 Dork
10/12/11 9:43 a.m.

I think your answer is a Miata with a turbo kit.

pres589 Dork
10/12/11 10:18 a.m.

Maybe a BMW with a turbo kit, like a 318Ti? 5.0 BMW swap could also be cool.

ReverendDexter SuperDork
10/12/11 10:21 a.m.

Here's something I wrote up a while back, I won't claim that it's 100% accurate at this point, but it should give you a good idea of what you're up against.

Okay, well first you have to understand what it is about your car that's not allowing you to feel the car, and prevents it from giving you that feeling of control. That comes down to predictability.

The two huge things about a fox-chassis Mustang that kill predictability are the chassis flex and the improperly located (i.e. "floaty") rear end. The first is relatively straight-forward to fix; have some full-length subframe connectors welded in. The second part is more involved, as it depends on how much improvement you can afford. Lastly, the front geometry has a lot of bump-steer and positive camber gain under compression, neither of which are confidence inspiring.

The core of the axle location problem is the geometry used by the upper control arms. As the axle goes through it's range of motion, those arms need to effectively twist relative to their mount points, and to allow for that twist, very soft rubber bushings are used. Because soft bushings are used, the effective length of the UCAs is variable, which means that they don't create a fixed triangle, and with no fixed triangulation, the rear end can move side-to-side under load.

So, how to fix that? You have two basic options. One is to replace the UCAs with aftermarket units that still allow for twist, but don't change in length, i.e. spherically bushed (aka "solid") UCAs. This is by far the cheapest option, however you're still left with the undesireable geometry of the stock 4-link, so it's also the least ideal. The second option is to replace the UCAs with other control arms that take over their "jobs". The most common way to do this is with a torque arm conversion (TA). With a TA, instead of having two arms that are both responsible for lateral axle location and prevention of axle wrap, you have one arm dedicated to each of those jobs: the torque arm prevents axle wrap, and a panhard bar or watt's link is used to prevent lateral movement. Another way to do this is to go with Steeda's 5-link setup, which still uses upper control arms, but totally changes their geometry (they're much longer and the axle-side mounts are relocated) and also adds a panhard bar; or you can replace the entire SRA with the IRS unit from a '99-'04 Cobra (at which point you then have to deal with the necessary upgrades for that).

So, the continuation of that is the front end of the car.

The two big problems with the Mustang front end are the lack of adjustability in alignment and the geometry of the A-arm, especially relative to the steering rack.

Lowering only makes that second issue worse, which is why my first question anytime someone wants to lower their car is "are you doing it for looks, or do you want to do it right?".

You can get a serious increase in front bite just by dialing in a proper performance alignment... which pretty much requires CC plates to get.

After that, you're really looking at changing the angle of the A-arms. Stock, the A-arms in a Mustang slope slightly upward from k-member to spindle. Lowering the car only increases that upward angle. The huge problem with that is that it means that when the suspension compresses (like it does on the outside wheel while cornering), the arc that the ball-joint takes causes it to come closer to the body, which means you gain positive camber. NOT GOOD. To avoid that, you need to have the A-arm set up so that as the suspension compresses, the balljoint gets further way from the body... ideally at full compression, the A-arm should be parallel to the ground (putting the balljoint at it's point in travel furthest from the body); that means that at rest, the A-arms should actually slope slightly downward from the k-member to the spindle.

The problem with that is how to accomplish it! The easiest way I know of is the Steeda X2 balljoint combined with a spring spacer (or CO conversion). The balljoint is taller, which pushes spindle side of the A-arm closer to the ground. Unfortunately, because of the inboard spring setup of the Mustang, ride-height is determined by the A-arm location, so by doing this you end up lowering the car the increased height of the new balljoint, so you need a taller spring to compensate (ride height with coil-overs is isolated from the A-arm location, so this is not necessary should you make the conversion). Of course, once that's done, you've changed the roll-center height, which means you need to change your swaybar to keep the balance neutral... and on and on and on, hahaha.

That's why when people want a cheap way to make their car handle, I NEVER suggest replacing the stock springs. For all the benefits of lowering the car, there are too many other problems that get increased and make the overall change not worth it.

My recipe for cheap handling boils down to good tires, the best non-adjustable shocks you can afford, FL-SFCs, spherical-bushed UCAs (replace with a panhard bar if you can afford the ~$100 difference), and CC plates.

ReverendDexter SuperDork
10/12/11 10:34 a.m.

PS - I'd love any comments/corrections to the above

jstein77 Dork
10/12/11 10:49 a.m.

I repeat, the answer is Miata. You can easily duplicate one of these rockets (without the vinyl, of course) for much less than 11K.

Tom_Spangler Reader
10/12/11 10:49 a.m.

If handling is that important to you, I suggest picking something else, even an 80s F-body would be better. But for going fast for little money, it's hard to top a Fox-body. Still hard to beat that aftermarket, too.

Of course, if you are going to do track days with it or race it, the other thing that wiill need to be addressed is the brakes. Fortunately, the much-better SN95 stuff is a near bolt-on.

I've had two of them, both 89s, extensively modified both, and have moved on to better-handling platforms. But part of me will always love those cars, especially the looks of the later 4-eyed cars from 85 and 86.

Conquest351 HalfDork
10/12/11 10:49 a.m.

Buy a 5.0 LX with a manual transmission. Buy a Maximum Motorsports "Maximum Grip Box". Install parts, I believe you're going to have to acquire the SN95 spindles though. Do a 4-wheel disc brake conversion and convert to 5 lug, if it's not already done. Buy and install SPEC Stage 2+ clutch and short throw shifter of your choice. Take it out and have fun.

Conquest351 HalfDork
10/12/11 10:52 a.m.

As mentioned above, the 86+ are fuel injected. The 86-88 are speed density cars. The 89-93's are mass air. The 1985 V8 cars are the last year of the carburetor, but the first year of the roller cam. VERY DESIREABLE!

ReverendDexter SuperDork
10/12/11 10:54 a.m.

Just an FYI, California cars got Mass Air a year earlier than the rest of the country.

AutoXR Reader
10/12/11 11:03 a.m.



ReverendDexter SuperDork
10/12/11 11:04 a.m.
AutoXR wrote: Strano. /Thread

I thought Strano only went Mustang with the S197s... before that he was an F-body guy.

Did he do foxbody stuff before that?

93EXCivic SuperDork
10/12/11 11:06 a.m.

If I was going start with an '80s American pony car, I would go F-body.

ls1fiero New Reader
10/12/11 11:50 a.m.

Conquest351 is spot on with his comments. I spent many happy days open tracking my similarly equipped 91 LX. The aftermarket stuff on this car has been around for like 30 years. It has been well sorted out. Add really good pads,lines and fluid to the Cobra brakes. A real seat and harness are required. And use Road Racing tires. Much happiness will follow.

Varkwso Reader
10/12/11 12:08 p.m.

I bought a new 93 5.0LX sedan, raced a 88 Mustang in CMC (with all the legal mods) that handled great and currently own a 87 5.0 LX sedan (traded the CMC car for it). They can be made to handle well - they do not come that way. They are stupid fun to drive and cheap parts are everywhere for them. They are basically the 69 Camaro of that generation.

aussiesmg SuperDork
10/12/11 6:39 p.m.

OK so how do I make my 86 $2011 Challenger turn without lifting it's hind leg to pee on the cones


it has no front sway bar, and open diff and soft soft suspension

Will Dork
10/12/11 7:01 p.m.
aussiesmg wrote: OK so how do I make my 86 $2011 Challenger turn without lifting it's hind leg to pee on the cones Photobucket it has no front sway bar, and open diff and soft soft suspension

I think you just named your first three areas of improvement.

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