Chassis, engine, junkyard

Update by J.G. Pasterjak to the Ford Mustang GT project car
Sep 24, 2003

While most of our focus has been under the hood lately, that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about the chassis. In fact, we’ve been tweaking things here and there to dial in our Steeda Five-Link rear suspension as best we could.

Tuning with the Five Link was frustrating at first, since it was a completely new system that we had to not only get used to driving, but wrenching on as well. We took the car to the Ocala GP Kart track for a couple of hours and just made random adjustments until we figured out what affected what and by how much. Then we started some actual tuning.

We discovered that lowering the panhard bar increased corner exit traction, while raising it increased turn-in ability. We liked the explosive exits of the low bar, but we didn’t like the associated push that we got. We decided to look to the front end, which didn’t seem to be doing much of anything anymore. The Steeda 1.375” swaybar was still installed from the G-Trac system, and we figured that this overabundance of front roll stiffness was no longer appropriate.

Off to the junkyard… Boneyard scavenging for Mustang swaybars yields a variety of choices. Most V6 models came equipped with a 24mm (.94”) piece. Stock V8 models had a 33mm (1 5/16”) bar, while Cobra models were equipped with a 28.5mm (1 1/8”) bar. The Steeda bar was 1 3/8” in diameter. While a stock Cobra bar may seem tough to find, the same 1 1/8” bar was also used on many Fox Chassis Cougars and Thunderbirds, which is what we pulled our bar off of. Many Lincoln Models can also yeild Mustang-compatible swaybars. One hour and $30 later, we headed home with an assortment of new front bars.

Like Goldilocks, we drew conclusions about the three bars we sampled. The V6 bar: Too soft; the V8 bar: Too stiff; the Cougar bar: Just right.

Actually, we’re keeping the stock V8 bar in the quiver. While most of the autocrosses we run around here are tight, second-gear affairs that lend themselves well to a car that’s willing to point quickly, on a more open, flowing course (or on a road course), the stock V8 bar would give us a level of comfort and drivability above that of the smaller bar.

So, with that, we’re back under the hood a little bit. While you read about out initial dyno testing in the last issue, we currently getting out hands dirty installing an Edelbrock Intake manifold. After we take that to the dyno, it’s time for some high-tech tuning with our AEM programmable engine control module.

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