Unibody cars-such as our Mustang-do not have a separate frame structure. Instead, the body and frame are unified in one piece, called a unibody. Unfortunately, this cost-saving unibody construction results in unwanted chassis flex. The suspension mounting points are directly linked to the body, not on a separate frame. Because the upper spring perch is incorporated into the inner fender on a '66 Mustang, the factory welded brackets to each tower where supports bolt on and extend to the firewall. The supports are made of thin stamped steel and may work well for the Sunday driver, but our Project Street Fighter will be put through much more abuse, and subsequently will need a lot more support.
Most race cars have the entire engine bay supported by a rollcage that extends from the inside of the car through the firewall. Though this is an option for us as well, we wanted something that would be a little less permanent to allow easier servicing of the engine. So far, we've installed a complete front and rear suspension by Total Control Products, so they were the obvious choice for our fender braces.
Total Control offers a brace system-for '65-70 model Mustangs-in three levels. The first replaces the factory inner fender-to-firewall bracing with a much more substantial bracket and rod setup. A step up from that includes a truss that extends from fender to fender, roughly in line with the water pump. The third level includes bracing to connect the first two systems together. We chose to use the complete system.
Like everything else we've put on the car from Total Control, the installation went smoothly. We spent the most time on some metal finishing, enhancing the look of the end result. We haven't put the parts to the test yet, but we're optimistic they will live up to our expectation.
More than half of the time on this installation was spent removing the factory bracket to get it ready for the new Total Control one. The instructions supplied with the kit suggest drilling out the spot welds to remove the bracket using a spot-weld drill bit. These bits are specially designed to cut the welded metal but not all the way through the inner fender. We didn't have one of those so instead of drilling all the way through and patching the hole, we decided to cut the bracket off and metal finish it.
Here's the bracket in question. It doesn't fit under the new bracket that will top the pla
With a silver pencil, we drew a line where the bracket was separated from the inner fender
A cutoff wheel is the best tool to do this job unless you have a plasma cutter handy.
The cutoff wheel will get you close, but we continued to grind the metal down with a grind
The grinding step left a gap between the old bracket metal and the inner fender metal so w
One more go with the grinder will produce a smooth finish.
Now you're ready for paint. We used Dupli-Color's Trim Black paint to match the inner fend