Bolt-on Watt's linkage for a S197 Mustang

Bolting in a better back end

Story Ricardo Topete - May 01, 2011 09:00 AM


Steeda’s Watt’s Link suspension looks intricate, but installs relatively easily for an experienced wrench turner. Not shown is the hardware kit that Steeda includes to make life easy.


Team GTR dives right in and begins by disconnecting the rear sway bar end-links, which allows the sway bar to swing out.


Since the Watt’s Link eliminates the Panhard bar, Eli Patronas removes it from the vehicle. Be sure to retain the hardware as it will be re-used with the Watt’s Link.


Eli follows up by unbolting and removing the Panhard support bar.


The beauty of the Watt’s Link is that it uses existing mounting holes, eliminating the need to drill or weld onto the car. Eli lifts the main support brace into position.


Using the factory bolts, loosely attach the main support brace to the car.


The center links must be attached to the center pivot using the supplied hardware.


The assembled version should look like this. Notice that the Steeda axle brackets are different sizes and shapes and are side-specific.


Next the center pivot and link assembly can be secured to the main support bracket. In addition, the axle brackets are attached to their respective side.


With the main support bracket secured, the height of the center pivot can be set. The center pivot height determines the roll center, which in turn will affect handling by promoting either oversteer or understeer.


The next step is to ensure that the lateral links are parallel to the ground. A level commonly found at hardware stores helps out. Lastly, the center links are adjusted to center the axle with the chassis. Once complete, tighten both jam nuts on each control arm.


After a few hours worth of work, here is the finished product. Now, time to hit the twisties!

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Owners of S197 Mustangs (’05-’09) are a pretty spoiled bunch when it comes to handling.

Not only do these cars handle fairly well right off the showroom floor, but they also have a thriving performance industry that has countless handling upgrades for this platform. Add a few basic suspension and chassis tweaks and you have a real corner-burner on your hands. Out of the many products on the market designed to improve handling, few make as big an impact as Steeda’s Watt’s Linkage (part # 555-2525).

The idea of the Watt’s Link is not new, but Steeda has found a creative way to incorporate its inherent advantages onto the S197 Mustang’s underpinnings. Making use of the Mustang’s mounting points for the stock Panhard bar system simplifies the installation procedure. Mechanically advanced do-it-yourselfers should be able to handle this task in a half-day using normal hand tools.

In our case, since we spend more time behind a keyboard than spinning wrenches, we enlisted the help of GTR High Performance, in Southern California. GTR is a full service Mustang shop that sells and installs Steeda performance parts. They rounded up a 2006 Mustang GT on which to evaluate the Watt’s Link. The Mustang, belonging to Luis Flores of Los Angeles, was already well-equipped with a host of performance suspension pieces such as lowering springs, bigger sway bars, control arms, adjustable shocks and larger wheels and tires. By all accounts, Luis’ GT was already a very capable handler. Not one to leave well-enough alone, Luis and GTR teamed up to take the Mustang to the next level with Steeda’s Watt’s Link. Follow along as GTR’s skilled crew shows us how it’s done.

The Watt’s Link main advantage over the Panhard bar design is that it completely eliminates unwanted lateral axle movement. Eliminating lateral axle movement promotes better cornering, improved stability and inspires greater driver confidence when driving at the limit. Under hard cornering, the back end has increased grip and is more responsive, which leads to more control. When driving on the threshold of traction, control is king. In addition, Steeda engineered their Watt’s Link from tubular chrome-moly alloy 4130 steel, which provides incredible strength to withstand the rigors of racing, while keeping weight to a minimum.

Now don’t think for a moment that Steeda’s Watt’s Link is a one-dimensional racetrack-only piece that compromises driving comfort in favor for at-the-limit handling. Steeda’s use of polyurethane bushings and aerospace quality ball bearings ensure precise movement while keeping NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) to a minimum. Driving the Mustang around town revealed very civilized street manners, with no perceptible loss of ride quality or comfort. Vastly improved handling with no adverse effects; that’s a win-win situation to us.

The Steeda Watt’s Link tames the Mustang’s tail-happy driving characteristics and rewards the driver with razor-sharp handling. The only nit we have to pick with the Watt’s Link is the price of admission required. With a price tag of $999, the Watt’s Link is for the most discriminating drivers that truly appreciate a well-balanced Mustang that steers where and when it is directed. Regardless, the Watt’s Link flat out works. If you are looking for the competitive edge on the street or track, Steeda has the missing link for your pony.

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