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Mustang suspension

Extraordinary handling for 1979-'93 Fox classic Mustangs

Jim Smart - October 20, 2011 10:00 AM

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1 Julio Mayen’s LX project racer, an ’85 LX hatchback four-popper with a five-speed purchased for very little — otherwise a throwaway car in the classifieds. There are dozens of 5.0L LX and GT cars out there for haul-away prices because Ford produced so many of them. Some folks are happy just to hand you the title to haul one away. Each is a treasure trove of usable parts.

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2A & 2B Here’s what you get from Maximum Motorsports for your hard-earned dollars. The torque arm system does away with upper control arms and makes your four-link a three-link with paralleled support. Add the Panhard bar and coilover Bilsteins and you have a world class rear suspension system for around two grand, ready for street or track.

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2A & 2B Here’s what you get from Maximum Motorsports for your hard-earned dollars. The torque arm system does away with upper control arms and makes your four-link a three-link with paralleled support. Add the Panhard bar and coilover Bilsteins and you have a world class rear suspension system for around two grand, ready for street or track.

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3A & 3B The Bilstein coilover system is a natural complement to the torque arm because it dampens like no coil spring and shock system can. The beauty of the Bilstein coilover system is its ability to perform well on the street or racetrack. Coilovers eliminate coil springs and the upper shock mounts are fully articulating and reinforced to take a pounding and do it quietly because they isolate suspension movement.

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3A & 3B The Bilstein coilover system is a natural complement to the torque arm because it dampens like no coil spring and shock system can. The beauty of the Bilstein coilover system is its ability to perform well on the street or racetrack. Coilovers eliminate coil springs and the upper shock mounts are fully articulating and reinforced to take a pounding and do it quietly because they isolate suspension movement.

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4 The stock Fox’s four-link rear suspension’s shortcomings are apparent at a glance because there’s too much rear axle movement even under normal driving conditions. The four-link coil spring suspension is basically a low-buck European design adapted to American cars like the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr. It was employed on just about every Fox body platform built through the early 2000s with the exception of some SVT Cobras. The first order of business is to remove all of the rear suspension including this worn out 7½-inch axle.

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5 Rear shock towers have to be modified to accept Maximum Motorsports shock mounts including making the shock tower hole larger and drilling four bolt holes using the template.

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6 Bilstein coilover shocks must be assembled and set-up before installation, then properly adjusted for ride height and handling once installed.

 

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7 The torque arm superstructure is installed next and positioned for welding to subframe connectors.

 

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8A & 8B Bilstein coilovers are installed next, then tied to the rear axle with hardware included in the Maximum Motorsports torque arm kit.

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8A & 8B Bilstein coilovers are installed next, then tied to the rear axle with hardware included in the Maximum Motorsports torque arm kit.

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9 As you can see, the Maximum Motorsports torque arm package works in concert with lower control arms (eliminating the uppers) and Bilstein shocks, offering unparalleled stability on street or track. The torque arm has to be adjusted for proper rear axle pinion angle, which is done with shims.

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10 The Panhard bar package is next, which keeps the rear axle centered in all kinds of hard cornering. Although you can bolt on the Panhard bar package, it is suggested it be welded for solid security.

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11 The Panhard bar bracket is bolted to the left axle tube control arm bracket as shown. No welding is required here.

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12 Maximum Motorsports’ Panhard bar is made of lightweight aluminum and fully adjustable.

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If ever there was a gold mine engineered to outfox the early 1965-’78 classic Mustangs, it has surely been the 1979-’93 Fox body Mustangs — the new generation of affordable classics.

This phenomenon began with the advent of electronic fuel injection in 1986 and grew steadily from there into street and race performance insanity in the early 1990s. The hot Fox Mustang movement was on. Once we got the hang of how to tune and hop-up these fuel injected ’Stangs, the sky was the limit — and it still is. Although the redesigned SN-95 Fox was welcomed news for 1994, it just wasn’t the same Fox by any means. It was a fresh face with a big twist of retro, but it had also gained weight and lost power. For traditional Fox folks, it just wasn’t the great weekend racer its predecessors were.

It hasn’t always been easy for the Fox classic guys because these cars were quickly overshadowed by the all-new S197 Mustang in 2005, which turned attention away from the old, tried and proven platform for quite some time. Enter the passage of time and a huge recession to help turn things around for the Fox body. Fox body Mustangs are plentiful and cheap to get into right now — great lightweight platforms to build on and play with for pocket change.

Although we love the 1979-’93 Fox for its good looks and nimble platform, it has suspension shortcomings that could use imagination. Those in the know tell us the Fox’s rear upper control arms are forced to both keep the axle housing centered and prevent axle oscillation during acceleration and deceleration. Because these upper arms are little more than boxed steel, they tend to twist, allowing all kinds of movement. Maximum Motorsports has a cure for that.

Maximum Motorsports offers you a wealth of race-ready suspension kits you can bolt on in a weekend and be ready for action the following weekend. We’re talking everything from entry level to all-out race pieces engineered to keep you pavement-glued and on the road. You really do have a choice on how much of it you install on your Mustang. Much depends on what you want your Mustang to do.

So what does a torque arm do? It does away with the bothersome upper control arms of your Mustang’s stock four-link rear suspension because it stabilizes the rear axle, keeping the contact patch nice and square under the most stressful handling challenges. We’re talking solid hook-up coming out of the corners with the butterflies pinned. Although the monster torque arm looks intimidating and bulky, it works on the street or track because it does not waver. It will keep an 8.8-inch rearend squarely planted with help from chassis stiffening so your Mustang will go where you point it.

There are two basic types of torque arms from Maximum Motorsports — standard duty and heavy duty. The choice depends upon how much power you’re planning, along with axle ratio, first gear ratio, and how you intend to drive.

More information can be found at www.maximummotorsports.com, which will help you make the right choice.

We can tell you with confidence the Maximum Motorsports torque arm will take up to 1,000 horsepower, based on testing these folks conducted during development. They do suggest subframe connectors to eliminate body twist. And, before you ask, Maximum Motorsports stresses the use of a Panhard bar, which should automatically be ordered for a set-up like this.

To install the Maximum Motorsports torque arm suspension with coilovers and Panhard bar, you need fabrication skills because some welding is required. You will need to weld in subframe connectors as well as the torque arm package for maximum strength and stability. Bilstein coilover shocks must be meticulously assembled and adjusted per the instructions to ensure proper operation. And before you get started, measure ride height at all four corners to chart your performance.

Julio Mayen of JME Enterprises just outside San Diego, California, wanted to go racing with a low-buck four-cylinder Fox body Mustang LX he picked up cheap from someone’s backyard. What we’re about to show you here isn’t a bolt-by-bolt install because it would take a book to cover it all. However, we’re going to tease you with the basics and steer you to Maximum Motorsports’ website to get the lowdown on this extraordinary, affordable chassis system from the folks who know Fox bodies best.

For Your Information:

 

JME Enterprises

(619) 669-9904

www.jmeenterprises.com

 

Maximum Motorsports

(805) 544-8748

www.maximummotorsports.com

The Maximum Motorsports Menu

•Heavy Duty Torque Arm Package (p/n MMTA-3) — $649.00

•Panhard Bar (p/n MMPBA) — $349.95

•Heavy-Duty Lower Control Arms (p/n NNRLCA-1) — $249.95

•Coilover Kit with Bilstein Shocks, 2¼-inch Hypercoil springs (p/n COP-3) — $452.99

•Racing Rear Upper Shock Mount Kit for Bilstein (p/n MMSM-1) — $199.00

•Subframe Reinforcements (p/n MMSFA-1) — $49.95

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