Quick links to the mods:
And so it begins...
Some may think it's a bit odd to buy a brand new car and then take it to pieces and rebuild it, simply because - well, I suppose it is :) If you want to know why, have a look at the background info. behind my decision.
One of the benefits of having to wait 3 months to receive your car, is that you have plenty of time to research and purchase aftermarket upgrades for it. I say benefits, but it's certainly not beneficial to your wallet! That said, I'd set aside a budget on top of the purchase price of the car specifically for modifying it. Needless to say, I've had to revise it (upwards!) as the list got longer ;) but I've been careful to keep track of every penny. All prices that I quote below include shipping and import duty/VAT where applicable. So far, so good(ish) :)
So onto the mods. First up, Shelby, or Le Mans stripes. Now I deliberated quite a while over whether to 'stripe' the car or not. I liked them, but only subtly done. Trawling loads of websites for shots of black cars with stripes, I finally came to the decision to stripe them - in black!?? Yes, black on black - a ghost stripe effect using satin vinyl on the black clearcoat. I really wanted the 'stealth' look, which was mean and moody and more than a little Mad Max! As I've said before, black suits a musclecar and Henry Ford nkew what he was doing with regard to the colour. The stripes were applied by the importer by a guy who's done many Mustangs. I went for a 10" stripe, 1.5" apart. The quality of the work was superb, even the hood scoop was removed and wrapped (not easy given the curves on it). Without exception, the ghost stripes have gone down very well, as an homage to Carol Shelby and a 'mean' looking mo-fo of a car. I love it!
Once the car was home, it didn't take long before I was unwrapping parts taken from a mountain of parcels that I'd amassed over the last 3 months!
So we'll start with the easy stuff - Mirror covers
Not only are the Mustang wing mirrors pretty huge, they're also unpainted. Midwest Auto Gear make a fine line of colour matched mirror covers, which are simply attached with adhesive strips. I ordered a set of these in black clearcoat, but then subsequently found a pair in carbon fibre from JLT Performance :) Knowing what I had planned for the interior, the black ones were left in the box and the carbon fibre ones were fitted. As I said, fitting them is simply a case of cleaning the mirror pods (preferably with an alcohol wipe to remove any grease/dirt/dust residue), affixing the double sided foam tape and carefully placing the covers in position. A 5 minute job that helps the looks of the car immensely.
So, first 'home' mod done and we're on our way!Back to top
Onto the replacement bonnet struts (hood struts). As standard, the Mustang comes with a fairly uninspiring metal brace to hold the bonnet open. This is 2007 for goodness sake! :) To better show off that 4.6 V8, I decided to replace it with a pair of gas struts. These fix using existing mounting points on the bonnet and wings to hold the bonnet open. This also has the advantage of doing so without impeding access to the engine bay, whereas the stock brace tends to get in the way. The stock item removed by undoing a single 10mm bolt, to allow removal of the brace assembly. The replacement gas struts (purchased on eBay for £39 - the Mustang modifiers friend :) are fixed to the bonnet using a 90 degree bracket and the original 10mm bonnet hinge bolts. The struts are attached to the inner wings, with an angled plate that's sandwiched between the wing panel and the inner wing and again, is held in place with the stock 10mm bolt fixings. I was a little concerned that sandwiching the mount in place would distort the top edge of the wing - but it doesn't affect it. Upon testing it, I found that the struts tended to twist the bonnet mounts round, so I carefully drilled the bottom of the bracket for a 4.8mm rivet, which stopped the bracket from moving around. A simple job and an effective mod. Looks and works better than the standard setup.
So whilst the socket set was out, I decided to fit the GT500 splash guards.
Standard fitment on the GT500, these splash or spray guards stop crud and road muck being thrown up by the rear wheels up and around the bumper. At about $6 each (though I sourced mine from eBay for a whopping £30!), it's anyone's guess why Ford don't fit them as standard to the GT. One can only assume that it never rains in the USA - well, perhaps not in California at least ;) They don't come as a pair, so see the pic for part numbers. Fitment is achieved using the standard phillips head screws which hold the wing infil panel on. Just remove 2 of them and replace with the splash guard. They're a subtle modification, but make a BIG difference to the amount of dirt thrown up - especially important on a black car which shows every spec. of grime.
So whilst I was working at the rear of the car, I thought I might as well replace the fuel door :) As standard, the car just has a colour coded panel to cover the filler cap. Nothing wrong with that, but in the spirit of personalisation and to add another bit of billet goodness, a replacement fuel door was in order. The billet door (with engraved GT logo available from several suppliers for around the $100 mark) is easy to fit. Just remove the three 7mm nuts holding the standard door on and replace with the billet version. The kit comes with spacers that you adjust to get a good alignment with the wing. It took some trial and error to get the right ones in the right place (not as per the instructions), but once on and the nuts retightened (only 2 hold the replacement on), it's another worthwhile aesthetic mod done.
Now, originally I tried to source a Cali Special with the 'charcoal' dash panel applique which contrasts well with the pale grey of the interior and is a sort of faux carbon fibre effect. However, in the end, I had to settle for the satin aluminium panel, which is fine, but too reflective and, well, 'bright' for my mean and moody Mustang. So after a fair amount of research, I found a carbon fibre interior covering kit on eBay. The kit is more comprehensive than the Roush version, having panels for the passenger side airbag. The kit is 'soft', so I can't see it affecting its operation - here's hoping I never have a reason to find out! The kit comes pre-cut and laid out on a card. Fixing is is simple enough, but great care needs to be taken to ensure the pieces go on correctly and not misaligned. The pieces are self adhesive backed, but also comes with an adhesive 'primer' - a sort of paint stick. Basically, you just clean the panel/trim piece you want to cover, apply the primer, leave for a few seconds, carefully peel the protective covering off the adhesive backing and apply. Trust me - once this stuff is on it's ON! No second chances :-o That said, take a look at the results! Hugely pleased with this mod as the interior is transformed. It's got a really up-market, race feel now and contrasts well with the rest of the interior. Very, VERY nice mod and all for about £80! :)
This mod is best appreciated as a before and after - so here's the 'before':
And here's the 'after':
A couple of finishing touches. First, the armrests are without any form of padding as standard. Moss Auto parts supply a leather bound armrest that simple sticks in place on adhesive strips - much more comfortable. They also do a knee pad which I bought as I find my knee rubs against the centre console - again, much more comfortable and a subtle little mod that 'lifts' the interior.
Something a little trickier now. In my quest for a blacker than black car, it seemed appropriate to pay the glass some attention. I deliberated over whether to get this done professionally, or do it myself given that you can pick up a laser cut kit on eBay for about £50. In the end, I decided to have a go a fitting myself and if it didn't work out - well, so be it. Bear in mind that in the UK it costs up to £400 to get tints done professionally! I ordered a kit from elitetint, with light smoke front windows and limo tint for the rear 3/4 and rear windows. I also ordered a set of tools to fit them which consists of scrubbing pads, a couple of squeegee cards and razor blades to clean the windows. Bearing in mind that the car is basically brand new, I wiped the windows down with alcohol wipes and cleaned so that they were spotless. Following the instructions with the kit, I made up a heavily diluted soap/water solution using de-ionised water (just to be safe :) I won't go into detail about how to apply the tints here, but it's not a terrifically hard job to do.... until you try the rear window! As it's a compound curve, without pre-treating the tint it's impossible to apply without pre-fitting with a heat gun. How do I know this? Well - you can guess! Cue one trashed rear window tint. I almost pulled off the side tints and 3/4s, but decided to see how they fare. In the meantime, I ordered a replacement kit. Well, if the others start to bubble, then I could just re-do them. It was a shame as the driver/passenger side windows and quartlights went on perfectly! However, a week or so later and a couple of tiny bubbles appeared on the driver side window. Being the perfectionist that I am, I've decided to strip the tints and get them done professionally. I've no doubt that you can do this at home, but a) don't do it outside and b) keep everything spotlessly clean. I also fitted 'moleskins' to the window runners in the doors. These felt strips stop the tints from scratching as you raise and lower the window - so at least when I get them done they'll stay in top condition! They look awesome though :)
Now to get the Mustang through SVA, you need to fit sidelights. This is done by drilling into the base of the stock headlights and fitting the bulbs. Unfortunately, this then means that water can get in and they fog up. All that said - angel eyes on Mustangs look COOL! :) This car is supposed to look menacing and let's face it, a million BMW drivers can't be wrong (ok - ignore that last bit). So I bought a set of replacement headlamps with angel eyes.
To fit them, you need to remove the front bumper cover ('cos that's what it is - a cover). First, remove the radiator inspection panel but pulling up the 'pop-up- tabs and removing the plastic clips. That done, remove the 3 screws from the front wheel well splash guards and pull the splashguard away so that you can access the cover mounting bolts - there are two of them per side tucked behind the splash guard near the edge of the bumper end. On the GT/CS, you also need to remove 4 small screws underneath the radiator grill apeture. These hold an airdam cover in. With this lot removed, disconnect the foglamps and indicators and carefully remove the bumper cover. It takes some fiddling at the sides to drop it off the mounting bolts.
That done, the headlamps can be removed with the 2 securing bolts and one push-tab. Once removed, the wires to the sidelight bulbs were but and grafted together with the new angel eyes. The connections were soldered and then protected with shrink tubing. The lamps were then tested - fine except that the engine needs to be running at the moment to 'fire' the angel eye sidelights as they present so little load to the system, I don't think they're getting a feed from the PCU - and the whole lot put back together. A neat mod and makes the car look more menacing than before. They seem brighter and whiter than the originals too.Back to top
Now, for some reason (cost I would imagine), Ford leave the lower front grill completely open to the elements. So any road detritus, stones, twigs, small animals etc. get sucked right into that gaping maw and smack straight into the radiator! Something needed to be done :)
Seeing as I had some spare grill mesh from building the Ultimas (http://www.ultima-gtr.info and http://www.ultima-canam.info) I put it to good use. With the aid of some tinsnips, it wasn't long before I'd fabricated a suitable grill - handily it was already anodised in black! A few rivets and washers were carefully positioned to be hidden from view and the grill was mounted in place. Much, MUCH better :)Back to top
So after I'd installed the angel eye headlamps, I thought they looked so good that well, it would be rude not to do the foglamps too :) To be honest, I was also getting this weird issue with the angel eyes that sometimes they'd strike up just fine and others, well, they wouldn't get a power feed. It was my belief that as the lights present no apparent 'load' to the system, the feed to them gets cut by the ECU. By running the foglight 'rings' in parallel with the headlamps, I hoped that it would fool the system into thinking that the normal sidelights were there....
Removing the original headlamps is very simple. Whilst it can be done with the bumper cover in situ, I needed to re-wire the headlamp angel eyes to split a feed to the foglights (so both pairs of angel eyes would come on when you activate the sidelights), so I removed it - again. This being the 3rd time (I re-fitted it before deciding to do the grill - doh!), I'm getting pretty adept at it ;) No great story here. The original lamps are simply held in place with 4 torx head screws, so disconnect the bulb, remove the screws and out comes the light. Fitting the replacements was achieved by reversing this sequence. They are adjustable for beam angle, so I need to do that at some stage soon (it can be done with the bumper/grill refitted). Next, I simply needed to revise the wiring changes I'd made the week before, by splitting the +ve/-ve feeds to the headlamp angel eyes to also run the foglamps angel eye rings. As usual, all connections were crimped, soldered and insulated using heatshrink tubing. The headlamps use 2 circuits per angel eye, so I bundled the wires together using some spiral wrap tubing to protect it all. Then the whole lot was reinstalled and the bumper cover replaced. Job done.Back to top
Well, I'm breaking a personal rule with this one - but with good reason. One thing I can't stand is people trying to pass off non-Shelby cars as Shelby's by simply sticking bits on! Now, a while ago a deal came up on a set of billet engine cap replacements that was too good to pass up. They were Shelby branded (which is the tule I'm breaking!) but, as they are generally out of sight, I've justified it to myself :) They look a darn sight better than the plastic originals. The only slighy hiccup was that the brake fluid reservoir cap is too large? The kit (I believe) is for '05 Mustang's so later models must have smaller reservoir necks I guess? Anyway, the oil filler, washer fluid, coolant reservoir, power steering fluid and dip stick now look much more pleasing to the eye. Zero performance benefit, but several points for 'bling' :)
So, after a couple of weeks driving the car in this state and getting it run in properly, my attention turned to the modifications that really count - handling, braking and performance!
Before we start a word about bolts and fixings. As standard, most (if not all) of the critical suspension components are held in place with torque bolts or pre-locktited bolts. Now, if you follow the workshop manual to the letter, you should replace all these. However, this being the real world, a lot of people don't. However, a couple of tips for you. First, once a stock locktited bolt is removed, you should remove the locktite from it and the thread it came from using a tap and die. This not only gives you a clean hole and fixing to work with, it allows new locktite to be used on the fixing. It's worth investing in a decent set of metric tap and dies for this purpose. It will make life a LOT easier - trust me! Needless to say, ensure every bolt is replaced and torqued up to the correct specifications and then mark it to facilitate a visual check later on. The suspension/brakes etc. will all need a settling in period in which they 'could' move. Fit the modifications, check the torque specs, get some miles on the clock - but take it easy! - and then re-check everything.
Now, as the old adage goes, the best way to go faster, is to stop quicker. Now the Mustang isn't exactly a featherweight and whilst the stock brakes are pretty good, hard use (fast road and definitely track) will see the performance wither pretty rapidly. There are loads of brake upgrades available, but by far the best value and quality in my opinion, is the 14 inch GT500 brake upgrade from Ford themselves. Standard fitment on the much heavier Mustang GT500, the kit consists of a replacement pair of Brembo, 4 piston front calipers, 14 inch disks and dust shields, along with replacement front/rear Goodridge braided steel brake hoses and Ferodo pads. Installed on the lighter GT, these should significantly enhance the braking performance of the car. Installation of the kit is a 'snap' as they say.
Firstly, after freeing off all the wheel nuts slightly, the car was put on a 2-post lift and elevated to a decent working height. The 18 inch Bullitt factory wheels were removed and set aside. Removal of the front calipers is simply a case of undoing the 2 mounting bolts at the rear and lifting the calipers off with pads still installed. The disks have not mechanical attachment to the hubs as such, but they may have a retaining clip on one or more of the studs to hold the disk in place when it's assembled on the production line. These clips can cause wheel shimmy on aftermarket wheels that don't have pockets cut into the back of them as they prevent the backface of the wheel sitting flush against the surface of the disk. These were simply cut off with some sturdy metal snips and discarded. The abs sensor was then removed by undoing the 10mm secuting bolt and pulling carefully out of the hub. This was really done to avoid snagging the cable than anything, so I'd recommend it. With the calipers still attached, they were hung from cable ties out of the way. I avoided removing the brake hoses until last, so that the fluid doesn't drain too much. Finally, the stock disks were removed and the dust shields taken off by removing the 3 10mm bolts that fix them to the hub.
Now time to replace them with the new stoppers!
The Brembo calipers are gorgeus - as befitting such a brand. To be honest, I would have preferred AP (same ownership of the company however - just a personal preference of mine), but they run out at about £2.5k a set! The GT500 upgrade can be had for less than half that - sometimes a quarter if you're really lucky!!! You can see the differences from the photos, well worth it. The disks are HEAVY though! Not great for unsprung weight, but good for stopping power!
The new disks were placed onto the hubs and the calipers were bolted back on using the new torque bolts supplied in the kit. The abs sensor was reinstalled into the hub and secured with the 10mm bolt. The old brakeline was removed and replaced with the braided Goodridge hose sent as part of the upgrade kit. Conveniently the hoses are marked for Left/Right orientation so even an idiot (like me :) can get it right! The hose was attached to the new Brembo caliper with the supplied banjo bolt and washers and it was ready to be bled. After I replaced the rear hoses (see below), I bled the entire system and flushed through with AP Racing DOT 5.1 fluid.
One issue with this system is that the factory 18 inch Bullitt wheels have insufficient backspace for the monster Brembo calipers. I knew of this before I started and was faced with the choice of replacing all the wheels (and indeed, I have a set of GT500 wheels ready to go, but that meant 4 new tyres and pressure sensors etc. - that and I prefer the style of the Bullitts!) or using spacers. Now, some people are uncomfortable with using wheel spacers, but providing they are of good quality, hub centric and securely attached, there's no problem. The set I bought was from Driftworks in the USA. They are 1 inch (25mm) spacers which use the original hub studs to attach to the hub, then a new set of studs to attach the wheel. The wheel spacers I bought were a perfect fit, really snug on the hubs (they are hub centric, so they centre correctly on the original hub) and indeed, had to be snugged up with the mounting nuts. To be safe, I used blue locktite on them too as I have little intention of removing them again. The only issue is that the original hub studs are about 5mm too long to fit into the pockets in the back of the Bullitts. The solution? Well, out with the hacksaw/angle grinder and carefully take 5mm off each stud. The wheel then fits perfectly but man, it's CLOSE! Close to the extent that you may need to remove/replace/move the wheel balance weights as they may rub on the calipers. Cue lots of filing of mine (and the factory Bullitts seem to have LOADS of weights on them) until the wheels rotated with no interference. The wider track of the car (2" wider with the spacers) gives the car a more aggressive stance too!
So there you go, factory 18 inch Bullitts will work with GT500 brakes - but only with spacers!
For the rears, even though I only needed to replace the pads and hoses as part of the kit, I actually needed to remove them completely as I wanted to pull the axle from the car so that it could be rustproofed. Firstly, the handbrake cable was removed by pulling the cable end from the activation arm. A spring clip holds the cable in place on the caliper, so this was removed so that the cable could be taken out. As with the fronts, removal is achieved with 2 bolts which hold the caliper on. Again, the abs sensor was removed by undoing the 10mm bolt which secure it. Once free of the hub, the caliper was hung out of the way until the new hoses were installed. It worth noting that you need a special tool to wind the caliper pistons back in to fit the new pads. Fortunately my buddy has one and given that I was in his workshop, it would have been rude not to use it - cheers Mart :)Back to top
With the stoppers sorted, time to make a start on the handling.
Right - let's get one thing straight. There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING wrong with a live axle setup. My blood pressure raises as soon as I see it mentioned on UK websites and forums where the uninitiated 'assume' that because it's not independent suspension, it's crap. Additionally, the myth that American cars don't handle. Well, not only is this opinion about 30 years out of date, it's something that could equally be levelled at umpteen european cars! Now, it is fair to say that US cars are setup to be softer, more GT like in the handling department, simply because journeys tend to be longer and the roads straight and flat (though far from exclusively so!). Mass produced cars by their nature are setup for the masses. The USA is the market for the Mustang and so that's what it's tuned for. However, thankfully the nature of the Mustang means that there's a plethora of aftermarket tuning parts available. These range from Ford's own under the Ford Racing brand, to Roush, Saleen, Steeda etc. all well known for their racing heritage/success in various Ford's. There are also newcomers on the scene and some great products being developed. So let's cut to the chase here, as stock, the Mustang GT is exactly that - a GT car - a Grant Tourer setup for covering long distances in comfort with the power under your right foot when you need it. However, with some simple modifications, the mild can become wild, lowered, stiffened, adjusted and tuned - the Mustang can outhandle some well established 'performance/sports' cars. Put it this way, a Roush tuned Mustang GT goes round the Top Gear test track quicker than an Audi RS4 - so live axle is crap is it? Oh, and despite the misreporting by Top Gear, the Roush Mustang GT does NOT have independent suspension and ALL GTs have limited slip diff's! Right, now that's off my chest, on we go :)
So what 'needs' fixing. Well actually, nothing. The stock setup works very well. I did notice some 'clonking' from the suspension over potholes and the like, btu I put this down (and my suspicions proved correct) to overly soft bushes that are used to keep NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) to a minimum. The car does stand incredibly high though, in line with it's retro lines. The most common modification is to lower the car by about an inch on stiffer springs (Roush, Eiback, Saleen, H&R etc.) and fit stiffer anti-roll bars (swaybars). Quite a few modders also change the dampers with both non and adjustable versions available depending on your budget. One unavoidable issue of having a solid rear axle is the cars tendency to 'wheel hop' under hard acceleration. Replacement of the stock lower or upper control arms for stronger items helps correct this and adjustable versions allow you to correct the pinion angle of the diff once you've lowered the car. Lowering also affects the left/right position of the axle due to fact that it pivots around the axis of the panhard rod - an adjustable version fixes that and maybe along with a beefed up brace while you're at it. Beyond that, you're into some more dramatic modifications and the only limit is your aspirations and your budget! :)
Please note, that these modifications were not necessarily done in the order below as I stripped everything first, then replaced it all. This allowed me to remove the axle and rustproof it, which makes other jobs (like the Upper Control Arm - UCA - much easier)Back to top
So lets start with the rear Lower Control Arms. After much research and recommendation, I opted for BMR's 'Street' adjustable LCA's, with poly bushes one end and rosejoints at the other. I like to have adjustability in my setup, even if you just set it once and leave it alone, it's good to know you have that flexibility. The combination of the poly bushes and rosejoints will take out the flex/vagueness between the arm and the chassis/hub which will help stop wheel hope problems.
Removal of the stock arms is a straightforward affair. The car was already on a lift, so it was just a case of supporting the axle with a floor stand, removing the 2 bolts (per side) and taking the arm off. Given that the replacements are adjustable, it's important to ensure that they're nominally the same length as the standard items to give you a consistent baseline to work from. Placing the arms side by side, ensuring that they are the right way round (both in terms of the deflection between front/rear bushes and the orientation of the grease nipples on the BMR control arms which should face down) the stock bolts were temporarily inserted through both arms at one end, then the adjustable version lengthened/shortened to match the original. Once done, the arms are reinstalled and the bolts torqued up to 129ft/lbs. As modifications go, this is one of the easiest and most effective. A true bolt on!
...unless of course (like me) you're also installing the lowering brackets! BMR make a pair of brackets that corrects the rollcentre after you've lowered the car. Again, this gives more adjustability allowing you to lower the rear height of the LCAs in relation to the axle. Fitting them is achieved by removing the panhard rod, LCAs and then bolting to the axle brackets using the BMR supplied bolts. I did have some issues with these brackets as I wanted to fix the LCAs to the upper position hole, but found that as the brackets are slightly thicker than the stock axle, you need to spread them a little to get the arm in. This was achieved after some head scratching and the lowering brackets/LCAs installed.Back to top
Now, as I mentioned earlier, lowering the car can affect the lateral position of the axle due to the rotation around the axis of the panhard rod in relation to the chassis. To correct this, you can fit an adjustable panhard rod which can be lengthened/shortened to re-centre the axle to the body.
Removing it is simple. Again, with the car raised and suitably supported, remove the plastic cover on the axle bracket end (drivers side) of the panhard rod (just pull it off) and remove the bolts behind. Then, remove the bolt securing the panhard rod to the chassis (passenger side). The panhard rod can them be removed. Like the LCAs, first job was to match the length of the replacement panhard rod to the stock item. Again, a bolt was placed through both rods at one end and the adjustable replacement lengthened/shortened to match. This gives a good starting datum. The springs I will be fitting give a fairly mild drop of about 3/4 to 1 inch. The difference in panhard rod length is marginal, but if a job's worth doing! Additionally, I'd chosen to replace the stock panhard rod chassis brace. This brace spans the length of the panhard rod and is attached to the chassis. The factory item is pretty flimsy pressed steel. The BMR replacement is much, much stronger. Removing the original is simply a case of removing the 2 bolts on the drivers side and 1 bolt passenger side. The brace was replaced and the bolts torqued to spec. Another easy modification done.Back to top
At this stage (bearing in mind that I removed all the suspension elements before refitting them), I removed the axle. The axle is easily removed from the car. With the car off the ground and supported securely, the axle was also supported with a floor stand. First, the driveshaft bolts were removed from the pinion (in fact I removed the entire driveshaft to make fitting the quickshift easier). As the brake caliers were already removed, next came the LCA axle bolts which were removed from the axle end Swaybar bolts were removed from the axle (the swaybar can be swung out of the way on the droplinks but it's easier to just remove the whole lot), the lower damper axle securing bolts were removed and finally, the Upper Control Arm to axle bolt removed.
With all the fixing bolts removed, the axle was carefully lowered, taking care to catch the springs as they came down with it. Once removed, it was placed on axle stands and prepared for paint. The anti-moan brackets/clamps were removed (the 'u' shaped clamps that fix to the brake caliper along with anhything else that looked removable! Anything else was masked off. All the BMR parts were finished in a hammered black, so it seemed appropriate to do the same for the axle. I used Hammerite Hammered Black spray and the axle took a single can to do. The results are much, MUCH better!Back to top
Now, with the axle out, it would be a lot easier to remove the UCA (Upper Control Arm). I decided to fit one of these quite late on and I thought it was a bit of a luxury to be honest. However, after removing the stock version I'm very glad I decided to change it! I went for an adjustable version along with a sturdier mounting bracket from BMR. Their stuff really is top quality.
The UCA was already free of the axle, so there was no need to remove it from the mount as both items were being replaced with the stronger, adjustable BMR versions. Two of the bolts that hold the mount on are fairly easy to access - very easy with the axle removed (though this isn't necessary). The third however is located inside the car, under the rear seats. The seat base is removed by pushing in on two plastic tabs (just run your fingers along under the front seam of the seat - they are located to the left and right of the seat about 6 inches in from the ends) to release which allows the seat to come free and be removed from the car. This will reveal the 3rd UCA mounting bolt. It's in there TIGHT (150ft/lbs tight), but should come out without too much trouble. However, even with this bolt removed you will not be able to pull the mount free as it has a spacer welded to the end (under the 3rd bolt) which requires you to drop the fuel tanks to get sufficient clearance to pull the mount out. So the saddle-bag style fuel tanks (it becomes quickly obvious why filling with fuel can be a problem given the size of the filler pipe and the design of the tank!) were supported from beneath and the two allen headed bolts holding the tank securing straps were removed. With the straps free at the rear end (they simply pivot at the front end) they can be lowered along with the fuel tank. You only need to come down an inch or two to allow the UCA mounting bracket to be withdrawn. I was surprised upon inspection to find that the stock UCA showed signs of having movement at the end where it bolts to the axle bush. The hole in the arm had ovalled out slightly - bear in mind that this was after only 1000 miles of running in! No hard launches to blame either!! I was glad I'd decided to replace this part having seen this.
Once out, the new UCA was again matched in length to the stock item and then attached to the new mounting bracket. This was done off the car to make torquing the bolt easier. That done, it was secured to the car using the a new bolt to replace the one under the rear seat and the two stock bolts at the rear. As with every bolt, they were locktited in place for safety.Back to top
As I said earlier, this list of mods isn't necessarily in the order that I fitted them, but given that I'm moving on to the dampers and springs, onto the fronts!
Again, in the quest for the ultimate in adjustability and road/track flexibility, I opted for adjustable Tokico D-Spec dampers along with Roush springs all round. Your spoiled for choice regarding springs, but I wanted a moderate drop in ride height with a firmer set up for fast road/track use. The Roush springs were a proven combination, so that's what I went for. Besides, they're blue and match the Roush anti-roll bars that I'd chosen to replace the stock items! :) With the car elevated and supported, the wheels were (already) removed to reveal the front damper struts. The brake/ABS sensor lines are secured to the strut leg with a clamp. Simply remove the bolt and release them. The anti-roll bar link is also attached to the strut leg, so remove that too. Support the front hub/disk assembly and remove the two lower bolts that hold the damper leg to the hub. Once done, you can remove the top 4 bolts under the bonnet (hood) and the strut/damper will drop out - note the orientation of the top strut mount, it has an arrow on it. Replacing the springs will require a spring compressor - fortunately I had access to one. Get the compressor legs as opposite each other as you can and wind them in to compress the spring. Once it's loose from the upper strut mount, you can remove the top nut, remove the strut mount bush (these things are prone to wearing out/breaking quickly - one of mine had fallen to pieces in 1000 miles! I had ordered replacements from BMR though! Steeda offer a heavy duty version, but they're almost $300!!). Remove the bump stop from the original strut leg stancion and install it on the new damper. The top strut mounts were replaced and oriented to sit on the spring correctly. The top can then be rotated to match the orientation of the original using the arrow as a reference. The new springs were compressed (slightly trickier as they're shorter) and the top nut secured and tightened to spec. The dampers came with a warning sticker that said not to use an impact gun on the top bolt as the piston stancion is hollow and can fracture. So I didn't :) Once reassembled, the damper/spring assembly was reinstalled in the car, top bolts first, then the lower bolts. The lower bolts were also replaced with adjustable camber bolts which will allow me to correct the increased negative camber that will result from lowering the car.
Again, in the quest for the ultimate in adjustability and road/track flexibility, I opted for adjustable Tokico D-Spec dampers along with Roush springs all round. Your spoiled for choice regarding springs, but I wanted a moderate drop in ride height with a firmer set up for fast road/track use. The Roush springs were a proven combination, so that's what I went for. Besides, they're blue and match the Roush anti-roll bars that I'd chosen to replace the stock items! :)
With the car elevated and supported, the wheels were (already) removed to reveal the front damper struts. The brake/ABS sensor lines are secured to the strut leg with a clamp. Simply remove the bolt and release them. The anti-roll bar link is also attached to the strut leg, so remove that too. Support the front hub/disk assembly and remove the two lower bolts that hold the damper leg to the hub. Once done, you can remove the top 4 bolts under the bonnet (hood) and the strut/damper will drop out - note the orientation of the top strut mount, it has an arrow on it. Replacing the springs will require a spring compressor - fortunately I had access to one. Get the compressor legs as opposite each other as you can and wind them in to compress the spring. Once it's loose from the upper strut mount, you can remove the top nut, remove the strut mount bush (these things are prone to wearing out/breaking quickly - one of mine had fallen to pieces in 1000 miles! I had ordered replacements from BMR though! Steeda offer a heavy duty version, but they're almost $300!!). Remove the bump stop from the original strut leg stancion and install it on the new damper. The top strut mounts were replaced and oriented to sit on the spring correctly. The top can then be rotated to match the orientation of the original using the arrow as a reference. The new springs were compressed (slightly trickier as they're shorter) and the top nut secured and tightened to spec. The dampers came with a warning sticker that said not to use an impact gun on the top bolt as the piston stancion is hollow and can fracture. So I didn't :)
Once reassembled, the damper/spring assembly was reinstalled in the car, top bolts first, then the lower bolts. The lower bolts were also replaced with adjustable camber bolts which will allow me to correct the increased negative camber that will result from lowering the car.Back to top
With most of the rear suspension components now replaced and the axle ready to be re-fitted, my attention turned to the dampers and springs.
Removing the dampers couldn't be easier. Just support the axle with the car elevated and remove the lower and upper fixing bolts. The uppers are found behind the boot (trunk) carpet. The axle needs to be lowered to remove the springs, but this is a strightforward job to do. Some kits come with replacement bump stops which fit to the axle housing, but the Roush ones - given that they're a moderate drop - didn't. With the standard dampers/springs removed, the replacement Tokico/Roush items were installed. You need to be careful with the dampers as the stancions are hollow. There's a warning sticker advising not to use an impact gun to tighten the nuts or you risk fracturing the shaft - I advise you to heed it! I set the Tokico's to 5 turns from hardest as a baseline setting. The dampers come with a handy keyring tool to make the adjustments. Just remove the top cover, insert the tool and turn to make them harder or softer.Back to top
Again, something I decided to get late on in my mod shopping spree (but I'm glad I did) was BMRs replacement K-Member with Polyurethane engine mounts. This would have a few benefits - enough for me to justify the purchase price anyway! Firstly, it's lighter than the stock item (and any weight saving in this car is a good thing). Second, it gives much better access to the headers which I'll be replacing with Longtube versions. Third, the Polyurethane engine mounts lower the engine slightly. This will help the pinion angle, lower the CofG marginally and will mean that my BMR strut brace will hopefully fit even with the intake engine cover on! :)
Removal of the stock K-Member (or engine subframe) requires you to support the engine weight. As my car was on a lift, this was actually done with a floor stand, but more commonly you'd use and engine crane. You can do it by jacking under the front of the engine, but I really wouldn't recommend it!
Removal of the original K-member is achieved by first removing the steering rack. My track rod ends were already removed from the hubs so this bit was easy. Just remove the top nut and use a ball joint seperator (or drift and big hammer taking care not to knacker the threads) to drop the tie rod ends out of the hub assembly. Mark the position of the steering shaft in relation to the lower knuckle U-joint and remove the clamping bolt. Remove the power steering hose clamp from the front of the K-member. The steering rack securing bolts are then removed so that the steering shaft can be withdrawn from the knuckle and the whole lot tied up out of the way.
Next, remove the engine mount securing nuts from inside the engine bay. There's plenty of room. That done, the engine can be carefully lifted off the mounts using a jack/crane etc. Once the engine weight is taken from the K-member, the 8 bolts that secure it can be removed and the K-member lowered from the car. Nerve wracking, but not that complex really.
With the K-member on the floor, now would be a good time to remove the exhaust headers! That said, I'd already done that the hard way! See exhaust section.
Removal and reinstallation of the A-arms was a simple affair with the K-member removed from the car. Just unbolt the original ones and replace with the BMR items using the spacers and bolts provided. I opted for the non-adjustable version with polyurethane bushes this time as to go adjustable would mean using the rose-joint versions which would be far too harsh for road use in my opinion. Actually I installed the new K-member before reinstalling the A-arms as I got nervous about having the engine dangling 6 feet from the ground with only a jackable stand beneath it! The bolts/threads were all cleaned of locktite with taps/dies and then re-locktited and torqued to spec. As usual, the BMR K-member is superb quality and I'm pleased that I went with it.
As I said, replacing the A-arms is very simple. Just elevate the car, remove the wheel, support the hub/disk assembly, remove the lower ball joint bolt, remove the inner A-arm bolt and two that hold the HUGE bush in place and remove the A-arm. You can see from the side-by-side pic of the stock vs BMR replacement A-arm just how massive the bush is. The factory item isn't bad, but the usual budget conscious pressed steel. The BMR replacement by comparison is gorgeous. The poly bushings are greasable in situ using via the installed grease nipples and silicon grease.Back to top
With the A-arms and K-member installed, I could fit the CHE A-arm brace with torque limiters. What are torque limiters you ask? Well, with a bit V8, when you accelerate hard you get a fair amount of deflection in the drivetrain as the torque of the engine tries to twist the motor. This can affect the gearshift (as the shifter is attached to the chassis, not directly to the transmission) making 2nd and 3rd fard to engage under full load. The torque limiters reduce this deflection by bracing the transmission bellhousing against a brace that runs between the A-arms. Now, I have to say that the torque limiting function of the brace was made largely redundant when I decided to fit the replacement K-member, as the harder engine mounts do a similar job (they reduce deflection of the engine).
This was just as well, as I found when fitting the brace that the torque limiter on the drivers side wouldn't fit past the new headers header! Anyway, fitting couldn't be easier. Just remove the nuts/bolts from the rear A-arm bushes, insert the new, longer bolts and re-torque. The torque limiters attach to the brace and the bellhousing with bolts, supplied. Though as I said, at the moment I've yet to work out a way of getting them to clear the headers. This is odd, as I saw images from someone else recently with the same setup and they cleared just fine? The last thing I wanted was a rattle from down there! As I said, the new engine mounts do pretty much the same job :)Back to top
Another advantage to me of fitting the K-member, was that the engine sits slightly lower. Why is this an advantage you ask? Well, I'd originally ordered a BMR strutbrace when they only did 2 versions - one for the V6 and one for the V8. At the time that they were developed, the intake engine cover was not an option (which I wasn't aware of!) so the nett result is that the strutbrace that I'd bought could not be fitted without hacking bits out of the cover! They have since developed a new strutbrace for the GT with the engine cover - but I didn't fancy shelling out more cash when I had a perfectly good one already! The original GT brace is stronger too IMHO. Anyway, a happy consequence of fitting the K-member with smaller engine mounts, meant that there was enough room (just) to fit the strut brace WITH the engine cover :) So I did just that! This will also work out well if I go supercharged, as the Saleen kit requires lower mounts to clear the stock hood.
Fitting the brace is really childs play. Just remove the 2 inner suspension strut leg mounting bolts, fit the brace and replace the nuts and re-torque!Back to top
With the suspension modifications almost complete, the last stage was the replacement of the anti-roll bars (swaybars). In line with my fast-road/track intentions, I opted for Roush ARBs for front and rear. Fitting them is very easy. so I'll deal with both at the same time.
The front anti-roll bar is also held in place via links to the damper legs and two clamps/bushes on the front chassis crossmember. Simply remove the droplink end from the bar, remove the clamp bolts and remove the bar from the car. Installation, again, is the reverse of the above. Torquing the lower link to the bar end can be fun as it will just spin. So put an 8mm spanner on the end of the taper nut and just do it up tight! As with all fixings, mark it when tight to ensure it doesn't back off. Simple job - looks great and improves the body roll dramatically!
The rear anti roll bar is suspended from two drop links which 'thread' onto the bar and attach to the chassis via two securing points with a bolt in each. The hub end is attached with a clamp and bush, held in place with two bolts into captive nuts. Simply remove the hub clamp bolts, swing the bar down, remove the droplink bolts and lower the ARB from the car. Replacement is the reverse of installation (take care to get the bar the right way round - the stock item should have a tag on it to denote the left hand side of the car, match the new bar to this) - so get to it :) Threading the new droplinks (your new bar should come with droplinks and bushes to match the thickness of the bar) is aided with silicon grease. 'orrible messy sticky stuff it is too! :)Back to top
So given the work on the suspension etc. I'd removed the driveshaft. This made fitting the Steeda Tri-Ax quickshifter a lot easier as I had unimpeded access to the shifter mechanism under the car.
Firstly, the gear shift knob was removed by releasing the leather gaiter (just pull gently up at the front/rear of the gaiter surround) and the unscrewing it. The rubber boot beneath it was then carefully released from the hole in the chassis. Moving underneath, the shift lever lower bolt was removed and then so was the support arm bolt which attached to the rear of the gearbox. Finally, the two mounting nuts that hold the shifter mechanism can be removed and the whole assembly dropped out of the car. The Steeda Tri-Ax shifter needs assembling with some of the bushes from the original setup. A simple job to do as Steeda provide comprehensive instructions. The new shifter assembly was reinstalled in the car and setup. The Tri-Ax has stop bolts to prevent you from damaging the gearbox by overly forceful shifing. These were setup and all gears tested for engagement. The instructions say that you may need to shim the assembly with washers at the rear, but mine worked fine straight out of the box! Some people have moaned about this mod. saying that it's too noisy? I can only assume they usually drive a Lexus or have tinnitus! For sure, you can hear the transmission a little more (though it's hard to say whether this is down to the shifter in my instance as my entire suspension setup has been replaced with poly bushes), but it's not intrusive. Shifting quality is definitely improved - not that it was that bad to start with. But it's VERY gucci :)Back to top
In anticipation of a forthcoming mod (namely replacing the driveshaft with an lightwieght aluminium version) I thought it might be pertinent to add some protection in the event of a driveshaft failure. On the forums recently a guy had his driveshaft break and the damage was very significant! For the cost, it's cheap insurance. Additionally, the loops are held in place with braces which tie the chassis together, increasing stiffness.
Again, as bolt on's go this is one's a snap. First, you need to remove at least one end of the driveshaft. Lucky for me, the whole thing was out of the car, so that's a good start! The front safety loop brace simply bolts to the rear transmission brace - can't get much simpler than that! Just bolt the brace to the chassis, then the loop to the brace using the supplied fixings. The loop can be adjusted laterally to give equal clearance all round.
The rear hoop is a bit more sophisticated, with a broad laser cut stiffening brace onto which a hoop bolts down. To fit it, first you must remove the stock spray guards. I did try to reinstall these with the brace in position, but it didn't work out. Curiously, the chassis seems to make provision for a stiffing brace at this point, but none was installed on the car. I've heard of earlier models with it in place, but it's pretty flimsy. So bascially, the spray guards are removed and the rear loop brace installed. The hoop can be installed without removing the driveshaft, just slip it over the narrow point of the shaft near the diff pinion. A simple, safe and effective mod.Back to top
Now the exhaust caused me far more grief than it should really. Getting the old headers out and the news ones in was a pain. Basically you need arms like Mr Tickle and the dexterity of a gynaecologist to get the header nuts off and the new bolts in! But let's take it a step at a time...
To remove the exhaust, I worked from the rear forward. The stock axle-back silencer clamps were loosened and the silencers removed. You can make this easier for yourself by removing the mounts that hold the rubber suspension bushes in. Saves a lot of pulling/pushing! The difference between the stock silencers and my SLP loudmouths is self evident! The noise is too :)
Next, the intermediate pipes from the stock H-pipe to the axle-backs. These are held onto the H-pipe with 2 bolt clamps. Just slacken the bolts, release the catch (insert a screwdriver to make life easy) and pull them free. The H-pipe and factory catalitic converters are attached to the short headers with 2 bolts per side. Easily removed when they're relatively rust free! The lambda (O2) sensors must be detatched from the loom plugs and then removed for installation in the new system. The longtubes come with extension harnesses, the two for the front sensors must be adapted slightly to fit, but cutting off the plastic tabs. This makes sense when you're doing it!
Finally, the shorty headers. Remove as many of the stud nuts as you can using a variety of ratchet drives and extensions. You may find it helps to remove the engine mount nuts and raise the engine up a little to help access. The drivers side isn't too bad, but the passenger side will almost certainly require you to remove the starter motor and probably the engine mount bracket too. The nuts here are VERY hard to get at!
With the headers finally removed (and that took a while I can tell you), the replacements could be fitted. This is when the fun started! Now the American Racing Longtube headers and catted X-pipe that I'd chosen is fantastic quality, it really it. However, it's actually a little TOO well made! Let me explain. The stock shorty headers are held on by studs and nuts, the AR headers are secured with bolts. The trouble is, the holes in the header manifold plate allow no tolerance (side/side up/down etc.) when fitting. Added to that the access problems and it can be a real pain. I'm sure people get lucky and they go striaght on, but my drivers side fought me all the way! I could get 7 bolts in, but not the last. Eventually, I widened the outermost holes (which are conveniently slotted at least) a little and next try, they went straight on! With the larger holes it took 5 minutes to get a header on, then you just torque up the bolts.
With the headers on, the rest of the system was much easier. The X-pipe slides onto the longtube headers and is secured with clamps (oddly not supplied!). The intermediaries were installed and the clamps left loose to allow the final installation of the SLP loudmouths. This means you can rotate the system and adjust the distance that the silencers (though they hardly silence at all!) stick out the rear.
The results are amazing! The car sounds like a Nascar, with some old school muscle at the bottom end. It's an expensive system, but worth every penny!
So, after living with the exhaust setup for a couple of years, I decided it was time for a change. The reasons were twofold: First, whilst the exhaust sounded as awesome as a NASCAR, on longer trips it could be very wearing - especially with the family in tow. Secondly, despite making most of the modifications in order to make the car better on track, it's the one place it had no chance of going as it was just too loud! In the UK, even a 'loud' trackday has a noise limit of 105db and most are at 98db. The car tested at 118db at 3/4 throttle and 125db+ on overrun ;) Needless to say, it wasn't allowed out on track :)
So what was needed was a different approach, something that would give the best of both worlds - quiet for track and loud for, well, whenever you feel like it :) In short, cutouts were the way to go.
Cutouts are basically a motor driven valve that sits in the exhaust system in order to allow you to bypass the silencers (or as much of the system as you want). With the valves closed, the exhaust gasses pass through the entire system as normal, with them open, the exhaust gasses are able to exit the system wherever you position the valves - quiet or loud, you have a choice :)
After some research and cost comparisons, I ended up ordering a complete system from BadlanzHPE (eBay username) - their website can be found at www.badlanzhpe.com. Charles (the CEO) sells the kits on eBay and is an excellent guy to deal with. Very helpful and communicative. Shipping costs were very reasonable and the kit arrived within about a week of being ordered - excellent stuff. He offers a range of kits for various pipe sizes etc. I went with a 2.5" dual cutout with remote control. This allows control of the cutouts via a keyfob sized remote. A momentary press opens or closes them fully, or you can partially open/shut the valve by holding the remote buttons down - total flexibility!
You can see below the kit contents. I ordered a few extra options too - the stainless steel exhuast clamps (which mean that you don't have to weld the system in place) and blanking plates to replace the cutouts for MOT etc. (if your MOT tester decides that they're not OK). Also visible are the loom, controller and manual override switch - all in all, a very comprehensive and high quality kit.
Having identified the relevant components, I put together one side (consisting Y-piece pipe, the cutout and exhaust tip) and tried to work out where it coud be fitted into the existing exhaust system. The only practical place it could go was behind the cats of the H-pipe. This section of the exhaust offers 2 short straights which allow the Y-pieces to be fitted, is far enough away from the fuel tanks and other vulnerable parts and conveniently is covered by the stock heat shields. It almost looks as if the car was designed to have them here :) So the other side was put together and both pieces offered up to check the fit. Once I was happy with their position, I marked the H-pipe where it needed to be cut. As my Y-pieces are flanged, I then shortened the cut by about 20mm from each end so that the existing pipe could slide into place.
So, with some trepidation and checking and re-checking of measurements, the H-pipe was then removed from the car and cut with a 1mm angle grinding disk - gulp! It's critical to get a nice straight cut. I find wrapping the pipe with tape as a guide helps this especially with so many bends nearby.
With the H-pipe cut, it was time to put the system together on the car. There's some tolerance in the system as a whole as it can be slid fore/aft so take some time to get it right. First on are the H-pipe cats which are now seperated, then on go the cutouts and finally the H-pipe joint itself. The whole lot then connects to the long pipes that go to the axle backs and is secured with sleeves. The Y-pieces themselves are held onto the H-pipe with stainless pipe clamps. These clamps will conform to the flanges and curves of the pipe giving a nice, tight fit.
One thing I was a bit concerned with was the possibility of the Y-piece clamps slipping (the stainless is ultra smooth) and the cutouts rotating around the pipe. Needless to say - this would be BAD as they could clout speed humps etc. which would rip them off in a heartbeat. The solution was a simple one, I just drilled a hole through each Y-piece flange (so through clamp, Y-piece and H-pipe) and popped in a rivet. That way, not only is the clamp holding it in place, the rivet stops it from rotating.
That done, it was time to wire it up. A very neat installation even if I do say so myself!
The wiring is very striaghtforward, once you define a location for the controller box and work out the routing of a live feed to it. As most of us know, S197 (2005+) Mustangs use a Smart Junction Box (SJB) to control most electrical functions in the vehicle. This unit is quite sensitive to additional loads being put on its various circuits and quite a few have failed due to dodgy SVA conversions (in the UK, additional lights have to be added and the brake lights rewired). In this regard, the safest best in terms of taking a feed to the controller is to go direct to the battery with a fused connection. As I was doing this, I also ran the earth to it too to be doubly safe!
Conveniently, Ford left a nice little access panel in the passenger footwell which is just the right size to house the controller. Additionally, just above this location, there is a large grommet which takes the main loom into the engine bay - well, not directly into it, but behind the wheel well cover and along the front right chassis rail to the ECU.
The battery also sits roughly above this location, so steps to fit are as follows: First, remove the battery and the tray it sits on. The tray is held in place with 3 x 7mm bolts. With the tray removed, you will see a couple of holes in a recess, the larger of these (to the front) is used to pass a live and earth wire to the controller via the main loom grommet. To get at the grommet itself, you need to remove the two inner clips of the wheel well cover. You can then pull it back enough to see the inside of the grommet from under the car. The grommet conveniently has a small 'nipple' on it which can be cut off/open to allow the cables through to the passenger footwell. Needless to say, make sure it's only the grommet you're cutting - so be careful with the snips!!!!
With the live and earth feeds in place, the next job was to route the 10 foot loom wires to the controllers. These terminate with a waterproof fitting at the cutout end and a jack plug at the controller end. Again, these went out through the main loom grommet, then into the engine bay, down behind the heatshields and back to the cutouts. These wire spiral wrapped to protect them from chafing on the heatshields and cable tied up away from the heat of the exhaust.
With the system wired, it was time to test. It all worked, but one of the motors closed whilst the other opened. This is because they are mounted 180 degrees out of phase with each other. The solution was simple, just pull the rubber cover off of the back of the cutout motor and switch the wires around. The system was re-tested and all was well.
With the system in place, it was noise tested to see whether the car was going to be track legal. Well, it was - by a fair margin! With the cutouts closed, it ran at about 95db at 3/4 throttle - excellent. With them open, this only increased to 98db - however, this is at the rear of the car, 45 degrees and 1m from the exhuast tip. Obviously, with the cutouts, these are in the middle of the car and underneath pointing sideways - I expect driveby to be considerably higher ;)
After taking the car to Supercar Sunday at Gaydon and coming runner up in the 'sound off', I can confirm that the setup offers the best of both worlds, a quiet cruiser for those longer trips and a bellowing hooligan whern the situation demands :)Back to top
One of the most common/popular mods for an easy power boost, is to replace the factory intake filter and reflash the ECu with a performance tune. There are many options out there, but after considering them all I opted for C&Ls 'Racer' Cold Air Intake (CAI) with a Diablo Predator handheld tuner, which comes pre-loaded with performance tunes for the intake. I opted for the Racer system over the 'Street' version as I believe that the plastic body may be less prone to heat soak (despite the fact that it's black!) and it's slightly larger. It's also more suited to supercharged applications, so no need to change if I go for Forced Induction at a later stage.
Removing the original system is achieved by removing only 2 fixings. The first, is the jubilee clip on the throttle body, the second is a 10mm bolt that holds the airbox to the chassis. Before removing, you also need to remove the MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor connector, just pull back the red tab on the connector and pull it off and an second vacuum tube from just in front of the throttle body. There is a green tab in this connector which you simply pull towards you and slide the tube off. Once off, the whole assembly can be removed from the car.
Once removed, you need to take the MAF sensor from the original system and fit it to the new CAI. It's held in with 2 torx head screws and the C&L kit comes with a torx bit if you haven't got one in your toolbox. Make sure you remove the rubber gasket underneath the MAF sensor to ensure an airtight seal when refitted. The MAF sensor was then fitted to thenew, larger aluminium MAF body and assembled with the rest of the system using the silicon hoses and jubilee clips supplied. The new filter sits within a shroud which replaced the factory airbox. The shroud is held in place with the original 10mm bolt as fitted to the old airbox as well as a cable tie which holds the front side secure to the ABS pipes.
With the CAI fitted, I needed to write a new tune to the ECU to cater for the increased airflow into the engine. The Predator CL7145 comes with many aftermarket CAI tunes, so it's simply a case of selecting 'C&L' from the Option/OEM Select menu, then loading the relevant tune (91 Octane (93 RON) in this instance as there was no 93 Oct (97 RON) option available?). When you load a tune into the ECU, the Predator 'marries' itself to it by uploading the original tune. This stops people buying a tuner, then downloading to multiple cars. To service/sell the Predator, you need to upload the stock tune back into it. It's an ingenious system and very easy to use. Just plug it into the OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) connector under the dash on the drivers side and follow the on-screen prompts. It's sensitive to voltage drop, so make sure lights/accessories/fans/AC etc. are off before you start. Other than that, you just plug in and go! The Predator also allows you to view/clear engine diagnostic codes and adjust various other parameters - a great piece of kit.
The results were instantly noticable. Throttle response is MUCH improved and the car sounds possessed!!!! Need more wheel time and a dyno run, but this is a fantastic £/$ for bhp mod.Back to top
Now this was one modification I was NOT looking forward to doing. It's a CRITICAL engine component and I've heard several scare (I won't say horror) stories about doing it. Like everything of this nature, you have to be subjective and confident in what you're doing. Take your time and be prepared for the job in hand. Research the process and make sure you've got everything you need before you start - you can't just stop this one half way ;) So what am I talking about? Under Drive Pulley or a UDP install.
The principles of this modification are simple. The Mustang 4.6l V8 uses a serpentine belt at the front of the engine to drive various ancilliaries. Namely, the alternator, water pump, AC pump and power steering pump. Anything that's being driven by the engine, takes power from it, so by reducing the parasitic loss taken to drive the parts (by running them slower) you get more power available to the wheels. Or so the theory goes! Additionally, have you seen the stock crank pulley on a Mustang? It's made of the most ferrious material in existence if looks are anything to go by, as it must be rusty by the time it leaves the production line!!!! :) A replacement UDP kit typically comes with a replacement crank and water pump pulley and sometimes a new belt tensioner.
So after some trepidation, I set to work. After securing the handbrake and putting the car in 4th gear, I could start removing parts from the engine bay. First, the radiator fan and shroud was removed. This is achieved by removing the overflow tank and steering pump fluid reservoir and moving them over to the drivers side out of the way. No need to drain or disconnect them, just pull them clear. The fan shroud is held in place with 2 9mm bolts, one on either side near the top of the shroud. Remove these and carefully pull the shroud clear. It's a bit tight with the top radiator hose, but it will come out.
Now you'll have a good view of the crank pulley. To get the 3-leg puller in you may beed to remove the bracket to metal coolant pipes which run across in front of the pulley. Now's also a good time to loosen the water pump pulley bolts as the belt will hold it in place. Now the fun part, loosening the crank pulley bolt. Now whilst this is only torqued to 66ft/lbs, it can be an SoB to get off, especially as you're trying to loosen something that's rotating with the engine. So put the handbrake on, put the car in gear, get a socket and LONG breaker bar (or heavy duty impact wrench) and get to it. You can see by the pic just how much leverage was used to get it off - but off it came :) Use a 1/2 inch ratchet or similar to slacken the belt tentioner arm so that the belt can be removed. Take care to note the belt routing before you do so though!
Thinking the worst was over, I set about removing the crank pulley. Now this should have been easy, using the 3-leg pullers I'd bought for the purpose, however, true to the adage 'you get what you pay for', the pullers appeared to be made of cheese! They were rubbish. The mid size puller (of a 3 piece kit) ate itself first try and the large puller legs were too big to fit behind the pulley. Gah! Anyway, after some head scratching (and I couldn't just leave it off), I ground down the pulley legs on the largest of the 3-leg pullers and set back to work. Now, this is where people come to grief. The trouble is, they use the stock pulley bolt to remove the pulley, which is fine, until you come to the last few threads (because you lossen the bolt, tighten the puller, loosen the bolt, tighten the puller and so on to remove the pulley from the crank snout) - then the pressure of the the puller knackers the crank snout thread!! NOT good. The solution, with the Steeda kit, is simple. Just replace the stock bolt with the installation bolt TO REMOVE the pulley as well as install it. As the Steeda installation bolt is longer than the stock one, the pulley will come off and the longer bolt will still be safely with the threads of the crank snout. Then just remove the bolt and pulley - perfect and safe. So, thankfully off it came :) Its reluctance was partly due to the large gob of silicon sealant used to stop oil leaks from the keyway in the pulley. This was all carefully cleaned off ready for the replacement.
Before replacing the pulley, a word about the securing bolt. This is another torque bolt and whilst the Steeda instructions say that you can re-use it twice, for peace of mind I decided to replace it with a new version. You can buy from your local Ford dealer (well, easy if you're in the US) which is again a one-time use, or replace with an ARP bolt which can be re-used many times. They're rated at 200,000psi or something ridiculous like that! The part number is 156-2501 - 12mm bolt for the Ford 4.6L. Additionally, it's essential that the pulley goes on square/true. Steeda supply a longer installation bolt for this purpose but it's safest to use a pulley installation tool. Again, being in the UK and not having access to such a tool, I had to use the bolt. To make fitting the Steeda replacement pulley easier, I pre-heated it in an oven to about 100 degs. Farenheit. Fitting the new pulley means using new sealant in the keyway and you have to get it on before it starts to set - in about 4 mins. So I got the new pulley out (wearing leather gloves), applied the sealant and carfully slid it onto the crank snout, being careful to align with the keyway. Needless to say, as I was keen to get this done, no pics :) With the hot pulley sliding easily onto the cold crank, the long installation bolt was used to wind the new pulley on square. It's important not to bottom this bolt out in the crank snout, so I used the old and new thick washers which meant that this was impossible. Once wound down, the long bolt was removed and replaced with the ARP replacement and single thick washer. Torquing to spec. would be done once the belt was refitted.
With the lower pulley replaced, the water pump pulley was removed and replaced with the larger Steeda version. Just remove the 4 securing bolts that I'd loosened earlier. Whilst doing this, you also need to replace the drivers side alternator bracket stud with a new bolt, supplied in the Steeda kit. The reason is that otherwise the belt will catch on it (due to the larger water pump pulley) and shred it! You can also saw/grind the end of the stud off, but that's a bit 'bodge' to me. Wioth the stud replaced and the water pump pulley back on, the belt was put back on (using a 1/2 inch drive to rotate the tensioner again) and checked to ensure that it was properly seated in all the pulley grooves.
The final job (once the belt was back on) was to torque to spec. The correct procedure for this is as follows:
Not that easy to be specific with the rotation angles as the engine tends to rotate with it!
The fan was then refitted, along with the coolant expansion tank and steering fluid reservoir. I was nervous when firing the car up as I'd heard of the engine throwing 'codes' for pulley vibration (a result of it not going on completely square), but thankfully it fired up perfectly and a visual check showed the belt to be running correctly - phew!
So there you go. Not an easy job, but fairly straightforward. Just make sure you have the necessary parts/tools ready to go beforehand and you should be just fine :)Back to top The last step of my induction modifications was to replace the CMCV (Charge Motion Control Valve) plates with free flowing Steeda Billet versions. So first question - what the hell are CMCV plates? Good question, basically, like all automotive manufacturers, Ford are having to meet ever more stringent emissions regulations. CMCV plates - or tumble plates as they are known - are an adjustable flapper valve, a bit like a throttle butterfly, that disturbs the flow of air on idle or small throttle openings. This helps low-end performance as well as emissions and economy. However, any restriction in the intake passage wil ultimately reduce outright performance at WOT (Wide Open Throttle). The plates, whilst compact, account for something like 9% airflow restriction even when fully open (as the mechanism still sits in the intake path). The solution: simply replace them with a plate that has the valve flaps removed!
There are a few alternatives on the market which range greatly in price, from about $80 to $300. The cheaper versions are basically the original cast items without the flapper mechanism. The more expensive ones, well, like everything these days it seems that it has to be billet! To be honest, I would have been happy with the cast versions, but when a set of used Steeda billet plates came my way at a fair price well, it was a no-brainer ;)
Now, before you start, it's VITAL that you have a tune that's setup for these plates. Some tunes will turn the valve control motor off so that you can disconnect/remove it completely and others don't (you just remove the control arms from the motor). Either way, it's important that you have a suitable tune or the engine will illuminate the check light and go into limp mode quicker than you can say - Bamachips!
Talking of which, that's exactly where I got mine from. Doug will make a custom tune for you depending on your setup and fuel octane preference. For me, that resulted in a 93 Octane (that's Super unleaded 98RON fuel in the UK) Race tune, for Longtube Headers, C&L Racer CAI, UDPs and of course, the CMCV deletion. The tune is simply emailed to you for uploading into your tuner - I have a Diablosport Predator for this. Make sure you have the latest firmware revision for your tuner (see http://www.diablosport.com) for the latest cram file as well as downloading the DSdownloader program for the Predator. You'll also need a serial cable (or USB to serial adaptor/cable as serial ports are becoming rarer on modern PCs these days) and a 12V DC 1000MA power adaptor. Alternatively, if you've got a spare 12V battery lying around, you can use that to power the Predator. It's important that you revise the firmware and upload the tune in the following order:
Right, so with the tune installed (it can be done after you've fitted the plates, just don't drive the car before you've got the tune in), I could set about replacing the CMCV plates. I used the following method which means you don't have to disconnect the fuel rail (which would mean getting pressurised fuel all over the place!)
First step is to remove the intake pipe from the throttle body. It's easy enough to remove the whole air filter intake assembly so that's what I did. Just a single jubilee clip to slacken the intake pipe on the throttle body, pull back the red tab on the MAF sensor connector and remove and finally, remove the 10mm bolt that holds the air filter shroud to the chassis. The whole lot can then be removed as one assembly.
Next, remove the engine cover (if you have one) and pull off the throttle position sensor and throttle servo connectors from the throttle body by releasing the red tabs as before. The vacuum tubes can now be removed, just squeeze the connector on the end and pull carefully.
Now you can pull off the connectors from the injectors, just squeeze the tab and pull the connector off. Remove the fuel rail pressure sensor connector and the vacuum tube that's also connected to it. The rubber vacuum tube just pulls off. Before you can lift the fuel rails, you need to pull the plastic tabs that secure the loom to the studs in the manifold, just above the fuel rail (2 each side). You can then remove the studs using a long 8mm socket. With the studs removed, carefully lift off the fuel rails/injectors as a complete assembly. They will just 'pop' out of their sockets.
With both fuel rails/injectors free of the intake manifold, carefully move to the drivers side of the engine bay, out of the way. Take particular care not to damage the ends of the injectors.
With the fuel rails removed, remove the 10 x 10mm bolts that hold the manifold in place. 2 of these are 'inside' the manifold so be sure not to miss them! The rearmost driver's side bolt is a stud onto which a loom securing tab is placed. Just pull the tab off allowing access to the stud hex nut. You will also need to remove the hidden vacuum tube at the rear of the manifold. It's easiest to do this where it T's into the connector just to the drivers side. Last steps are to remove the loom connector from the CMCV plate control motor - again this is at the rear of the manifold and finally, remove the loom securing tab from the bracket at the back of the manifold on the passenger side.
With the manifold free (check that there's nothing holding it in place), carefully remove from the car. Use paper towels/clean rags to block the intake passages - you really don't want a nut falling in there to say hello to the valves ;)
With the manifold off, place it upside down on a bench or worksurface. It's plastic, so be careful with it as a crack would be disasterous! You can now access the 2 torx screws that hold the CMCV plates in place alon with the control motor and actuation arms. I found it easiest to remove the whole lot as a single assembly, then to remove the arms from the plates/motor - but it doesn't matter either way really. The control motor is held on with 3 x 10mm bolts - just remove and the motor and plates will come off as one.
With the motor/plates removed, I removed the spring washers from the actuation arms and motor so that the plates could be detached. You can see from the pictures how these things work. Interesting to note that the design has changed since '05, with the CMCV valve butterflied having a cutout in them. Depending on your tune, you can remove the motor or leave it on/connected/working but with the actuation arms removed. Whilst I was fairly sure that my tune actually disables the CMCV motor, I decided to leave it on and re-connected 'just in case'. The weight saving is marginal and worst case, it stops corrosion from getting into the connector!
Fitting the replacements plates is even easier than removing the originals. The green plastic gaskets were CAREFULLY removed from the old plates. It's vital that you don't nick/damage these as the last thing you want is a vacuum leak. The plates are conveniently marked as Left/Right hand - so no excuse for getting them the wrong way round ;) Place them carefully on the manifold making sure that the gaskets don't drop out (there is a key cut in the gasket slot too to make sure you orient them correctly). There's some play in the positioning with the torx screws, so align it as best as you can and tighten carefully.
Then, it's a simple case of putting the whole lot back together. The steps are really the reverse of the install. Note that when installing the injectors/fuel rails, just line them up over the sockets and carefully, evenly press on the fuel rail and they will simply 'pop' back into place. Finally, check all connectors/hoses/fixings and you're ready to go!