The Fox Mustang's factory...
The Fox Mustang's factory triangulated four-link rear suspension is an extremely capable setup. With the addition of quality aftermarket components from Competition Engineering, the stock design can rival the performance of ladder bars or aftermarket four-links at a fraction of the cost.
Muscle car magazines have rarely been advocates for progressive and socially responsible behavior, but our past transgressions of apathy are about to change with Project Fox. PHR's '93 Mustang notchback is very green-Ford Calypso Green Metallic to be exact-and with a 532ci big-block Ford mated to a GM TH400 trans, it boasts the latest in hybrid technology. Making power is only half the battle, however, and getting Project Fox's 775 ponies to hook on skinny 10-inch-wide drag radials and a stock-style suspension is no easy feat. Or is it?
Sanctioning bodies such as ORSCA, PSCA, and others have made the Fox Mustang one of the most popular platforms for small-tire class drag racing in existence. Without the assistance of ladder bars or aftermarket four-links, Fox Mustangs have run as quick as mid 7s at 185 mph on 275/60R15 drag radials, which works out to just 28x10 inches. Since these pioneers have already done the dirty work for us, emulating their suspension setups and bolting on the same Mickey Thompson meats they rely on is a great place to start in our quest for 9-second e.t.'s. Most importantly, by putting the power down instead of helplessly spinning the tires in a stationary stupor, we'll be doing our part to reduce our Mustang's carbon footprint.
To make everything hook on such a limited contact patch, we ordered a heavy-duty rear suspension setup from Competition Engineering. The goodies include adjustable upper and lower control arms, springs, adjustable shocks, and a beefy drag-spec sway bar. Getting Project Fox's underpinnings track ready, however, is a bit more involved than simply bolting on some new parts. Since the Mustang's unibody was designed to handle just a hair over 200 hp, it needs reinforcement in several key areas to prevent the suspension pickup points from separating from the body. Manning the wrenches once again is expert chassis man Bill Buck of Bill Buck Race Cars in Austin, Texas. Before heading out to Route 66 Raceway to tune on Mike Murillo's 6-second Outlaw 10.5 Mustang last July, Buck showed us what it takes to get hooked even when packing only a quarter of the horsepower he's accustomed to.
9s For $25K
In our haste to get crackin' on Project Fox, we've neglected to formally introduce you to the newest member of PHR's project car garage. The plan is simple: Stuff a 775hp big-block into a 3,000-pound car, and run 9s. To make things more interesting and spice up the charismatically challenged nature of late models in general, our goal is to run single digits on a stock-style suspension and Mickey Thompson 275/60R15 drag radials. To top it all off, the budget has been set at $25,000, and the car will retain a full interior, real glass, stereo, power windows and door locks. Did we mention that it's going to be completely street legal, and drive to and from the track without a trailer? In order to keep things simple and minimize costs, we've already built a 532ci big-block Ford engine, a Phoenix TH400 trans, and an 8.8-inch rear end. Likewise, the factory EFI has been tossed in favor of a carb, and running small tires will eliminate the need for mini-tubbing. Although the car will see occasional street duty, we won't kid ourselves or question your intelligence by claiming it will be used as a daily driver. And that's exactly the point. By establishing a realistic purpose for the car, stuff like fuel injection, overdrive, rear disc brakes, and locking diffs are now pricey and frivolous doohickeys. In future issues, we'll tackle the fuel system, front suspension, rollcage, interior, cooling system, exhaust, engine and trans swap, and chassis tuning before finally running Project Fox at the track. Sure, our Mustang falls well outside the '64-'72 sweet spot, but it's too new to be rusty, and the principles of building a hard-core street/strip drag car are universal. And who can argue with cheap speed? -Stephen Kim
|THE COST SO FAR |
|Story: ||PHR Issue: ||Price: |
|'93 notchback Mustang ||Nov. 2009 ||$3,000 |
|Sold old wheels, tires, engine, trans ||N/A ||-$1,000 |
|532 big-block Ford ||June 2009 ||$9,644 |
|Phoenix TH400 trans ||Sept. 2009 ||$1,645 |
|Strange 8.8 rear end ||Oct. 2009 ||$1,759 |
|Comp Engineering rear suspension ||Nov. 2009 ||$1,708 |
|Total: || ||$16,756 |
|WHERE THE MONEY WENT |
|Item: ||Part No: ||Price: |
|Comp Engineering upper control arms ||C8005 ||$210 |
|Comp Engineering lower control arms ||C8007 ||$255 |
|Comp Engineering spherical bearings ||C3168 ||$140 |
|Comp Engineering coilovers ||C2055 || $596 |
|Comp Engineering sway bar ||C2020 ||$280 |
|Comp Engineering torque box plates ||C8015 ||$25 |
|Rock Auto brake drums ||2604R ||$52 |
|Custom reinforcement welding ||N/A ||$150 |
|Total: ||$1,708 |
Before bolting on any new...
Before bolting on any new parts, the control arm anchor points must be reinforced rigidly to the body. The factory spot welds hold up fine for a stock 205hp motor and street tires, but are subject to breaking loose once e.t.'s dip into the 11s. At this stage, Project Fox's stock suspension and rear end have already been removed for the 8.8 buildup that was featured last month.
Using a sanding disc, Buck...
Using a sanding disc, Buck removed the paint, primer, and top layer of metal around the areas needing reinforcement. Attempting to TIG weld factory-galvanized steel increases the potential of contaminating the welds with air pockets. Consequently, Buck prefers MIG welding these spots instead.
When subjected to lots of...
When subjected to lots of power and grip, the upper control arm brackets have a tendency to separate from the body. Adding welds around the entire perimeter of the bracket makes them plenty strong for 9-second e.t.'s. Beyond that point, Buck recommends tying the control arm anchors directly to the rollcage.