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Ford Mustang case study

It's been a while since we did a blog post, mainly because it's been so busy! I thought it was about time to write a bit of a case study on some of the vehicles we see.

We set up a lot of Ford Mustangs, especially the classics, but recently we carried out a geometry check and adjustment (4 wheel alignment) on a Shelby S197 version. The rear end on these is different to the standard rear end of a '65 - '73 Mustang as it utilises a panhard rod. Most people haven't got a clue how these work, how to set them or what effect they have on the handling of the vehicle. I'm not going to explain how to set them up (sorry, you'll have to call us to carry out the wheel alignment on your Ford Mustang for that ;-) ) but they have a massive effect on the way your rear suspension behaves through it's travel. Mustang's have a bit of a reputation of leaving car shows doing burnouts then firing themselves into the scenery. This is no doubt down to the driver pushing their car to way beyond their skill to control it, BUT, in the driver's defence, if they have modified their car by changing the ride height one way or another and not had the wheel alignment and most importantly the panhard rod reset, the car will start to steer (or more accurately 'crab') from the rear as it's rear suspension compresses under hard throttle. As the rear axle moves to one side of the car under compression it's only a matter of time before it steers from the rear whilst you ruin another set of tyres. Adjusting a panhard rod is a pretty easy job, but first of all you must have an adjustable one fitted. Most cars will come with a fixed length one so you will need to upgrade to this. The next thing will be to adjust it correctly and this will make a difference to the location of the rear axle through it's travel. So who needs to buy one? Well, if you've lowered your car, you do. By lowering the car it will move the location of the rear axle laterally on the vehicle, unfortunately this is just a feature of nearly all cars that use a panhard rod as part of their rear axle geometry systems. Most people won't bother buying one and claim that their lowering springs / coilovers / lowered leaf springs are amazing. I'm sure they are but there's more to come from your car in a handling and safety aspect. The lowered S197 that we recently aligned had the correct parts purchased by the owner, and once the panhard rod had been adjusted and the 4 wheel alignment carried out the owner expressed that it drove a lot better and actually drove straighter under acceleration than ever before. If you intend on taking your Mustang near a race track for a trackday, whether its an S197, S550 or even an older example, I strongly encourage your to get your axle alignment and geometry checked to ensure that you are safe and that your car drives the way it should do on the day.

As previously mentioned, we align a lot of classic Mustangs. The common complaint is that they are unpredictable, vague and drive 'like steering a boat'. This is nearly always due to an alignment problem, or more to the point not enough caster, and quite often the car will have cheap shocks fitted. I appreciate that most of us are on a budget but I can't stress enough the ride quality and car control that you can achieve from buying a good set of shocks. A cheap set of gas filled ones won't last that long, won't be serviceable and will make the car wallow and bounce everywhere. If you own a £15k plus classic Mustang do yourself a favour and treat it to some decent shocks. We sell the Koni Classics as they are the best classic shock out there. That's our opinion but trust me they are good. Everyone who buys a set from us loves them and says it transforms the ride. It might cost you £500 for a full set, or £200 for a cheap set, but you'll thank yourself for spending the extra £300 and not moaning about the car for the next few years. We have transformed some cars in a single day by fitting a good set of shocks and carrying out a wheel alignment helping the owner enjoy their ride for years to come.....

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