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38
19
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Tennessee
Hello everyone!
I have been on this site about a million times trying to learn the ins and outs of suspension and the parts that make mustangs handle really well, and then I decided to finally make an account and ask some questions for myself. For some context, I am a college student that has been blessed enough to own my dream car, an '11 GT, for a little over a year now. I haven't spent too much money on the car yet, as I was trying to decide whether to go the drag or track way with the build, but I now know track is the way to go. I am trying to do this build, for now, on a budget because car parts aren't too kind to the wallet of a part time working college student, but I also want to make sure I use quality parts that won't break. I also can't go "full race car" yet, as this is my daily driver for probably another couple of years. So, after looking through what felt like a million threads, I came up with the following for my car:

Wheels and Tires
SVE R355 19x10 with 285/35 tires (still thinking about what tires)

Suspension Components
Ground Control Koni Sport Strut Coilovers with 500/250# springs
BMR Adj. Lower Control Arms
BMR LCA Relocation Brackets
H&R 32mm Adj. Front Sway Bar
CorteX 18mm Rear Sway Bar
Steeda Adj. Panhard Bar (Eventually want a watts link, but not too fond of the price)

I took inspiration from a lot of pages and threads, and I think this should work well on a budget. I know that CorteX and other higher end coilovers are better but are the GC ones okay? I would love some input on the items listed from some people that know more than me, because I have only a base level understanding of suspension at the moment. Any input, including on tires, is very welcome!
 

xr7

TMO Addict?
426
431
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
Minnesota
I would bump up to 18x11 or 19x11 wheels, Brakes, if you don't have stock Brembo brakes your stock brakes are inadequate for the track. Others can advise you on the suspension selections.
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
5,593
4,121
Exp. Type
W2W Racing
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Blair, Nebraska
Agree with the bigger rims and since you note you have been Autocrossing for three years, I would work more on tires and rims than the expensive suspension upgrades at this point --- even this old fart remembers the budget constraints while in College.

I am not sure about the concern on braking for Autocrossing , though I would get a solid DOT4 fluid in the car and make sure you have a fairly aggressive racing type pad. Now if you are going to be doing alot of track events there are some items you should view to assist your brakes.
 
38
19
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Tennessee
I would bump up to 18x11 or 19x11 wheels, Brakes, if you don't have stock Brembo brakes your stock brakes are inadequate for the track. Others can advise you on the suspension selections.
So if I recall correctly from a couple of threads, a 19x11 +50 would need 3" ARP wheel studs and a 25mm spacer to work right?
 
Welcome to TMO! The most substantial mod I did when I started out was the BMR LCAs and relocation brackets, to eliminate the wheel-hop issue. I also had the BMR upper adjustable third link and mount added at the time, for insurance, since it's job is to retain the correct pinion angle. The necessity of that part depends on how much closer to the ground you're trying to get.

However, one thing leads to another, and upon leaving the shop I had the MT82 3rd gear lockout occur at high RPM now that the rear axle actually hooked up (occurs when the engine/transmission unit are 'torqued' to the side under large load and become misaligned with the body, which is where the shifter is attached). I ended up with a Blowfish bracket to solid mount the remote shifter body to the MT82 transmission. That being said, for just a couple hundred more dollars, I would suggest leaping right to the MGW shifter, which is also solid mounted to the transmission. If you're pinching every penny you can, the Blowfish bracket works too and I've run it for quite a while, but if you want to skip that step and just get your 'forever part' up front, sometimes it ends up costing less in the long run. This whole spiel, of course, assumes you have the MT82 and not the automatic.

I'm currently running this set up from Vorshlag with their Eibach spring option and it's just as streetable as stock, while having increased dampening effect due to the nice monotubes. I'm probably going to give Vorshlag more of my money for their MCS kit down the road, but in my research Fortune Auto has a 510 kit for the S197 as well that seemed like it provided a nice single-adjustable coilover for the price. There are a lot of other members here that have experience with Ground Control and Koni shocks, so they should be able to give you some good feedback.
 
38
19
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Tennessee
Welcome to TMO! The most substantial mod I did when I started out was the BMR LCAs and relocation brackets, to eliminate the wheel-hop issue. I also had the BMR upper adjustable third link and mount added at the time, for insurance, since it's job is to retain the correct pinion angle. The necessity of that part depends on how much closer to the ground you're trying to get.

However, one thing leads to another, and upon leaving the shop I had the MT82 3rd gear lockout occur at high RPM now that the rear axle actually hooked up (occurs when the engine/transmission unit are 'torqued' to the side under large load and become misaligned with the body, which is where the shifter is attached). I ended up with a Blowfish bracket to solid mount the remote shifter body to the MT82 transmission. That being said, for just a couple hundred more dollars, I would suggest leaping right to the MGW shifter, which is also solid mounted to the transmission. If you're pinching every penny you can, the Blowfish bracket works too and I've run it for quite a while, but if you want to skip that step and just get your 'forever part' up front, sometimes it ends up costing less in the long run. This whole spiel, of course, assumes you have the MT82 and not the automatic.

I'm currently running this set up from Vorshlag with their Eibach spring option and it's just as streetable as stock, while having increased dampening effect due to the nice monotubes. I'm probably going to give Vorshlag more of my money for their MCS kit down the road, but in my research Fortune Auto has a 510 kit for the S197 as well that seemed like it provided a nice single-adjustable coilover for the price. There are a lot of other members here that have experience with Ground Control and Koni shocks, so they should be able to give you some good feedback.
Alright, I'll definitely look into the third link and mount. Frankly, I didn't even know those existed haha. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the complexity that is suspension. And yes, I do have the MT82 and the MGW shifter is something I already had in mind. For me, though, as of now I haven't had too many problems with lockout, so the shifter wasn't my first priority. And I'll also check out that suspension. I'm a person that really likes having options when making a decision.
 
Alright, I'll definitely look into the third link and mount. Frankly, I didn't even know those existed haha. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the complexity that is suspension. And yes, I do have the MT82 and the MGW shifter is something I already had in mind. For me, though, as of now I haven't had too many problems with lockout, so the shifter wasn't my first priority. And I'll also check out that suspension. I'm a person that really likes having options when making a decision.

Something to note that I should have said as well, you'll definitely want a coil-over style like your Ground Control/Koni Combo, Vorshlag MCS, Fortune Auto 510, etc and not the Vorshlag Bilstein kit I linked if you want to go to 11" wide wheels. The increased size of the 'OEM' coil and the shockbody perch it sits on are a lot wider than your traditional coilover set up. It was simply a stepping stone in my development path, since I didn't run very wide wheels (though, I also plan on stepping up to wider wheels with a nice coilover kit someday). I believe both the Cortex JRi and Vorshlag MCS mounts also have offset mounting holes catering to the 305mm+ crowd. Apex wheels is a sponsor and I'd suggest also checking out what they have to offer and they have a great amount of information available on their website (their fitment guide is very detailed).

 
38
19
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Tennessee
Something to note that I should have said as well, you'll definitely want a coil-over style like your Ground Control/Koni Combo, Vorshlag MCS, Fortune Auto 510, etc and not the Vorshlag Bilstein kit I linked if you want to go to 11" wide wheels. The increased size of the 'OEM' coil and the shockbody perch it sits on are a lot wider than your traditional coilover set up. It was simply a stepping stone in my development path, since I didn't run very wide wheels (though, I also plan on stepping up to wider wheels with a nice coilover kit someday). I believe both the Cortex JRi and Vorshlag MCS mounts also have offset mounting holes catering to the 305mm+ crowd. Apex wheels is a sponsor and I'd suggest also checking out what they have to offer and they have a great amount of information available on their website (their fitment guide is very detailed).

Alright, cool! Thank you so much for the help!
 

xr7

TMO Addict?
426
431
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
Minnesota
So if I recall correctly from a couple of threads, a 19x11 +50 would need 3" ARP wheel studs and a 25mm spacer to work right?
I run 18 x 11 Apex rims and Falken 615's 295-40-18 tires all 4 corners, 20mm spacers in the front. 3" ARP studs all 4 corners. I'm on stock Boss struts and T springs. Vorshlag caster/camber plates.
 
Welcome to TMO.

I think if you read more of the "what do I need to get on track" threads you will some recommendations that are standard across the board and then those that are subjective and personal to the responder. After many years doing this here is what I would recommend (obviously your budget will dictate). I buy a ton of stuff used on this site and have saved thousands.

1) change all fluids to track spec (lots of choices)
2) dedicated tires and wheels (18" will give you more options and cost less)
3) basic Brembo Track Pack 4 piston take-offs (with good track pads) are cheap and a must if you have the standard 2 piston system up front
4) camber plates to get the front gripping and improve tire life

Those are the must-do items IMHO but what's more important is learning how your car feels and getting comfortable at the limit with what you already have. Once you start to get fast then you will realize you need to target certain areas. I would still go for a race seat and 6-pt belts next if you have the cash so you are protected and not moving around.....trust me on that.
At this early stage do not worry so much about what control arm you have and what intake or panhard bar. That's for later. Just for reference, one of the best Mustang road race teams in the world is 8 miles from my home (Phoenix Performance in Phoenixville, PA) and they often use stock pieces (like the third link/UCA) and win pro races and national championships. I have spent thousands of dollars on modifications and that still won't beat a great driver with a good basic set-up. Ask some of the top pro and amateur drivers/crew members that frequent this site before you waste a lot of money. Ask me how I know :rolleyes:

Good luck
 
38
19
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Tennessee
Welcome to TMO.

I think if you read more of the "what do I need to get on track" threads you will some recommendations that are standard across the board and then those that are subjective and personal to the responder. After many years doing this here is what I would recommend (obviously your budget will dictate). I buy a ton of stuff used on this site and have saved thousands.

1) change all fluids to track spec (lots of choices)
2) dedicated tires and wheels (18" will give you more options and cost less)
3) basic Brembo Track Pack 4 piston take-offs (with good track pads) are cheap and a must if you have the standard 2 piston system up front
4) camber plates to get the front gripping and improve tire life

Those are the must-do items IMHO but what's more important is learning how your car feels and getting comfortable at the limit with what you already have. Once you start to get fast then you will realize you need to target certain areas. I would still go for a race seat and 6-pt belts next if you have the cash so you are protected and not moving around.....trust me on that.
At this early stage do not worry so much about what control arm you have and what intake or panhard bar. That's for later. Just for reference, one of the best Mustang road race teams in the world is 8 miles from my home (Phoenix Performance in Phoenixville, PA) and they often use stock pieces (like the third link/UCA) and win pro races and national championships. I have spent thousands of dollars on modifications and that still won't beat a great driver with a good basic set-up. Ask some of the top pro and amateur drivers/crew members that frequent this site before you waste a lot of money. Ask me how I know :rolleyes:

Good luck
Okay, will do. Thank you!
 

Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
939
709
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
I also can't go "full race car" yet, as this is my daily driver for probably another couple of years.
Under that constraint I think you ought to re-think the matters of lowering, spring rates, and coilovers. At least for now. But you will need to address the brakes. You may be able to get away with track-rated pads for your otherwise-OE setup (13.2" front rotors?), but the 14" SVT/GT500 kit (and track pads) is an easy go-to option. Motul RBF600 or better fluid no matter what, and some supplemental cooling for the front rotors (this can be done on a DIY basis). Suggestion - Carbotech or G-loc pads because they're gentle on rotors where other big-name pads aren't as nice (*cough* Hawk *cough*).

I will assume that you'll keep the wheels and tires that came on the car for the majority of your street driving. This makes it easier to step up to 11" wide (either 18's or 19's) and give you wider tire size options later. 10" is the min-recommended wheel width for 305/35 and 295/30 (and below min-recommended for 305/30), where the min-recommended range of wheel widths isn't the hot tip for corner-carving when going with inch-wider wheels is such an easy option. 285/35s and even 275/35s are tire industry OK'ed on 11" wide wheels, so you wouldn't be "forced" into 305's. Personally, I'd hold the use of 10" wide wheels to 265/xx.

With 11" wide wheels you may need to address the PHB, but with any luck it'd only be to stiffen up the bushings rather than get involved with axle centering. If you'd rather save a little money over even an aftermarket PHB, there's a really cheap DIY mod for the OE PHB's bushings that actually seems to hold up just fine. A Watts link is a whole 'nother can of worms that you'll get a variety of opinions on even when you're ready to more seriously dig into that rear suspension. I'll just say that I can't see any over-riding reasons for going with a Watts. Not yet, anyway, and certainly not at the HPDE entry level, autocross experience notwithstanding.

If you're not lowered, or only lowered a little (say, half an inch), there's no need to replace the LCAs (yeah, I know . . .) just yet unless their bushings have deteriorated. And you won't have to consider the relocation brackets, my thinking here is that for stockish height cars relo brackets are mostly a drag-race modification that you shouldn't need in 3rd gear and higher on a road course (where you should be teaching yourself to be smooth with the throttle inputs to begin with).


Norm
 

TMSBOSS

Spending my pension on car parts and track fees.
6,229
3,219
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
Illinois
My first mod on my S197 was the shifter. Then I went with improved braking with aggressive pads, two piece rotors and cooling. P springs, LCAs and PHB were next.
What would I do if I was to do it all over again?? Likely the same thing. Brakes and shifter would be done Before I tracked the car. Once I could shift at speeds and knew the car would stop, Then I would work on "Drivers Mods", wheels and tires. Improve the suspension when the driver grows out of the stock system with better rubber.
 

Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
939
709
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
FWIW, I had a whole list of stuff I wanted to do to my '08 even before I ordered it, down to a list of specific parts. That I put on hold while just driving it, partly because my employment had gotten a bit sketchy and partly because I'd already run into the downsides associated with too much lowering on a previous car.

Some of that list stayed, some of it didn't.


Norm
 
38
19
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Tennessee
Under that constraint I think you ought to re-think the matters of lowering, spring rates, and coilovers. At least for now. But you will need to address the brakes. You may be able to get away with track-rated pads for your otherwise-OE setup (13.2" front rotors?), but the 14" SVT/GT500 kit (and track pads) is an easy go-to option. Motul RBF600 or better fluid no matter what, and some supplemental cooling for the front rotors (this can be done on a DIY basis). Suggestion - Carbotech or G-loc pads because they're gentle on rotors where other big-name pads aren't as nice (*cough* Hawk *cough*).

I will assume that you'll keep the wheels and tires that came on the car for the majority of your street driving. This makes it easier to step up to 11" wide (either 18's or 19's) and give you wider tire size options later. 10" is the min-recommended wheel width for 305/35 and 295/30 (and below min-recommended for 305/30), where the min-recommended range of wheel widths isn't the hot tip for corner-carving when going with inch-wider wheels is such an easy option. 285/35s and even 275/35s are tire industry OK'ed on 11" wide wheels, so you wouldn't be "forced" into 305's. Personally, I'd hold the use of 10" wide wheels to 265/xx.

With 11" wide wheels you may need to address the PHB, but with any luck it'd only be to stiffen up the bushings rather than get involved with axle centering. If you'd rather save a little money over even an aftermarket PHB, there's a really cheap DIY mod for the OE PHB's bushings that actually seems to hold up just fine. A Watts link is a whole 'nother can of worms that you'll get a variety of opinions on even when you're ready to more seriously dig into that rear suspension. I'll just say that I can't see any over-riding reasons for going with a Watts. Not yet, anyway, and certainly not at the HPDE entry level, autocross experience notwithstanding.

If you're not lowered, or only lowered a little (say, half an inch), there's no need to replace the LCAs (yeah, I know . . .) just yet unless their bushings have deteriorated. And you won't have to consider the relocation brackets, my thinking here is that for stockish height cars relo brackets are mostly a drag-race modification that you shouldn't need in 3rd gear and higher on a road course (where you should be teaching yourself to be smooth with the throttle inputs to begin with).


Norm
Alright, thank you so much for your input!
 
17
12
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
3-5 Years
Texas
Great thread. It's interesting to hear what upgrade path everyone started with and what they might do different. I got a '14 base GT a year ago with the intent of making it an HPDE day toy. Well, 2020 and all....targeting February 22nd @ Cresson as 1st day out. Have some work to do.

Anyway, I won't hijack, and just listen in. Good to hear opinions on the priorities though, which always rearranges my own a bit. Thx all!
 

ChrisM

Mostly harmless.
930
995
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
3-5 Years
SoCal
Not that it's worth much, but if I had to do everything all over again I would stay within the same brand as much as possible. In this case, I'd probably just get all Ford stuff and when I needed to I'd upgrade to Cortex. It's a lot easier than trying to guess which parts mix and match and a lot of the winningest guys here seem to pretty much do exactly that. It'll remove a lot of the headache of trying to adjust stuff and you'll get better answers here, honestly.

I'm actually doing that right now. I just did it backwards and wasted a @#$%load of money pulling all the parts that other forums said I needed and replacing them with good ol' Ford parts (and Cortex).
 

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