Great handling with race-ready solutions
Jim Smart - November 10, 2011 10:00 AM
For Your Information:
1 Here’s the foundation for our front end build: the Maximum Motorsports K-member with revised geometry and non-offset control arms, complete with Delrin bushings.
2 Maximum Motorsports believes you need a stiff cage if you’re going racing. Strength begins with this strut tower brace, available for carbureted (p/n MMSTB-2) or fuel-injected (p/n MMSTB-1) Foxes. This is an easy afternoon bolt-on project and you will feel the difference.
3 Urethane stabilizer links stiffen up the suspension, and limited sway bar travel helps to keep you on course.
4 First, safely support your Mustang with jackstands under the frame rails. Never rely on just a floor jack for support. Disassembly begins where the McPherson strut attaches to the strut tower. Because coil springs pack a lot of pressure and can maim or kill you if uncontained suddenly, make sure the lower control arm is safely supported by a floor jack, along with jackstands at the frame rails.
5 Once the McPherson strut is disconnected at the top, the two attachment bolts are broken loose. The arm drops, which frees up the spring.
6 Remove and toss that wimpy factory sway bar. If you do nothing else, opt for a heavy-duty sway bar from Maximum Motorsports.
7 Delrin bushings and sleeves are easy to install using the lubricant provided. Julio assembles the K-member and non-offset control arms.
8 The assembled K-member is elevated into place. The old 2.3L four-banger is gone and in its place will be 347ci stroker power. The assembly is easy to install using factory hardware, or hardware provided by Maximum Motorsports. Follow instructions to the letter.
9 Another stand-alone benefit to your Fox is installing these adjustable caster/camber plates. They enable you to crank in alignment inputs not possible with factory pieces.
10 Bilstein coilovers are assembled on the workbench in preparation for installation. Because extreme attention to detail is important here, follow instructions closely.
11 Bilstein coilover installation is straightforward into the fully adjustable caster/camber plate up top.
12 Julio secures the Bilstein coilover to the heavy-duty spindles and the Maximum Motorsports front end assembly. What a terrific way to get started on a car project, because this is having your priorities in order. You can build all the horsepower and torque in the world, but brakes and suspension must be able to handle the power level, or you’re unsafe out there.
13 Maximum Motorsports K-member installation as it appears from above. Look at the flexibility this package affords you.
Last month, we showed you the Maximum Motorsports torque arm/coilover rear suspension system. This month, we’re going to tease you again with a quick look at what Maximum Motorsports can do for you up front, where your Mustang meets the atmosphere at speed.
To build a serious street or road-race handler, you have to begin with a good foundation, which means going to the bones of your Fox body 1979-’93 Mustang. The factory subframe (K-member) doesn’t provide the strength or geometry needed to cut a canyon or apex at speed. Maximum Motorsports went back to the drawing board to create a bulletproof engine/front suspension K-member from scratch that goes one better.
The Maximum Motorsports assembly weighs less than the factory K-member, it improves suspension geometry by moving the roll center to a more optimum position, and it allows for engine setback if you desire to improve weight distribution. And because the Maximum Motorsports K-member is ultra-stiff, there’s no concern about flex. Two control arm pivot points allow you flexibility. Best of all, you can use it on the street or at the track.
Three types of control arms are available from Maximum Motorsports, besides original equipment. Reverse offset control arms (p/n MMFCA-21) keep your stock wheelbase and are designed only for the Maximum Motorsports K-member. They employ Delrin bushings, which are indestructible, and require the use of coilover shocks. The reverse offset arm shaves 40 pounds off your Mustang’s front end and offers quicker steering response.
The non-offset arm (p/n MMFCA-1) offers you stock suspension geometry. If used with the Maximum Motorsports K-member, it stretches your wheelbase ¾-inch. If used with the stock K-member, there’s no difference in wheelbase. With Delrin bushings, this arm provides strength and stability. Coilover shocks are mandatory with this arm.
The forward offset control arm (p/n MMFCA-5) with Delrin bushings offers advanced geometry, pushing your Mustang’s front wheels 1½ inches forward when used with the Maximum Motorsports K-member. If you choose to keep the car’s stock K-member, wheels move just ¾-inch forward.
As with all Maximum Motorsports control arms, you must go with coilover shocks for the best handling scenario possible. None of these arms are designed to work with McPherson struts. You can knock about $100 off the price of these control arms by specifying urethane bushings, which are more appropriate for street use, instead of Delrin ones. Urethane is a softer material and not as harsh as Delrin, which is rock hard.
There’s a different approach to front end alignment with Fox body Mustangs. Because there’s but one control arm on each side and a McPherson strut, how we adjust camber and caster works differently than with the old classic Mustangs employing an upper and lower control arm. Toe, of course, is adjusted via tie-rod ends, like anything else. Caster and camber are adjusted via the McPherson strut mount on top. Maximum Motorsports takes this approach even further with a fully adjustable caster/camber plate. For Julio Mayen’s ’85 Mustang, we want the caster/camber plate (p/n MMCC7989).
The beauty of Maximum Motorsports’ caster/camber plate is the independent adjustment for caster and camber dynamics. No modifications are required because it works with your McPherson struts or aftermarket coilovers, allowing lowered Mustangs to be adjusted to factory specifications. It offers a wider range of adjustment. You may also tweak negative camber even further for competition. Best of all, it articulates beyond the factory camber plate’s range to prevent binding. If you do nothing else for your Fox body suspension, the caster/camber plate is a wise investment in the flexibility it affords you.
Which leads us to bump-steer kits from Maximum Motorsports. They are a quick modification you can make without any major changes to your Mustang’s front suspension. Bump-steer happens when toe changes as the suspension travels up and down, which will make your Mustang deliver unwanted steering results. Two types of adjustable bump-steer kits are available for 1979-’93 Mustangs: tapered stud and bolt-through. The tapered stud kit (p/n MMTR-1) makes moderate changes to steering geometry, while the bolt-through spindle type (p/n MMTR-2) allows you to make more significant changes to toe. Both kits are priced about the same.
Maximum Motorsports also offers a couple of different types of sway bars for the 1979-’93 Fox: one from Eibach (p/n 3510-310) or the company’s own version, a 1.125-inch bar with .188-inch wall thickness (p/n MMFSB-1). There’s also a complete Eibach sway bar kit, with pieces for both fore and aft (p/n 3510-320).
Finally, there are race-bred Bilstein coilover shocks for the front (p/n MMCO-1, COP-1), designed to help improve geometry, one of the key factors for better handling. They must be carefully assembled on your workbench, but detailed instructions included in the kit or on the website make this job easy.