Adding reinforcement for a Shelby-style export brace | Project Vintage Race Mustang

Update by Tim Suddard to the Ford Mustang Fastback project car
Sep 26, 2021

Before we could drop the engine into our vintage race Mustang project, we needed a plan for installing the export brace.

What’s an export brace?

From the Cobra Automotive catalog:

These were originally installed on all Mustangs that were exported out of the country. Because of possible rough travel during shipping overseas and on European roads, these braces were installed to reduce chassis flex. 

Shelby Mustangs famously featured this export brace as well. Call it an easy way to tie in the upper shock towers.

To fit that export brace after we install the engine, we first needed to add an L-shaped metal reinforcement to the cowl. The brace will then mount to this reinforcement.

To install the reinforcement, simply clamp it into place and then weld, taking care to protect any nearby painted surfaces. Weld slowly so you don’t generate too much heat.

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Tom1200 SuperDork
9/23/21 10:21 a.m.

I was wondering how the pporject was coming along; good to see anohter installment.

dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/23/21 3:48 p.m.

I actually made something very similar to this for my IT track repaired 944 years ago. Triangulated it in a very similar fashion but also had diagonals that came down to the front frame rails at the base of the strut tower and we had a crossbar between the towers as well  They make a big difference in how the car handles.  The change in the turn-in was amazing!!!

One thing that I am sure you know but is important for others that may be considering this type of thing is to make sure when you make the final install and torque everything down that the car is on flat level ground with the car at its use case ride hight.  You will really be amazed how much things move around depending on how a car is supported.  I once had it off in the pits and put it back on in a hurry with the car on a jack that lifted the car by the aluminum cross member.  This put my alignment way out of spec and made for a very interesting track session.  I figured out what I had done about halfway through the track session.  Even uneven ground can cause you to lock the front end of the car in a position that will change your alignment. 

Where we had some discussion was if it should be installed with the driver in the car or not.  I kind of thought it was not really necessary until I was getting my car aligned.  My alignment guy always insisted that the car be aligned with me in the car so we tested to see if locking the brace down with me in the car versus out of the car made difference and it actually did.  If you lock it down with me, not in the car static camber did not come back to spec as set with me in the car.  I think with my 944 having a particularly flexible chaise it was probably much more pronounced than it would be in most cars but it was still very interesting to see just how sensitive cars can be to this kind of thing.

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/23/21 6:23 p.m.

When I added the export brace to my '65, I couldn't even come close to getting it installed with the front wheels on the ground because the car had sagged so much over time. And this was on a solid car with its original floors. 

jerel77494 New Reader
9/24/21 4:48 p.m.

Uh, just noticed this.  The front suspension is double a-arm.  It only looks like a strut type because the shock and spring is above the upper control arm.  Unless you changed it?

noddaz GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/30/21 5:41 p.m.

That is stock vintage Mustang, Maverick, Falcon, Comet, Cougar front suspension in all it's glorious underwhelming performance. 

frenchyd UltimaDork
9/30/21 6:10 p.m.

In reply to Tim Suddard :

Jaguar XJS has removable braces in all 4 corners. Nicely triangulating the whole engine bay. 

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