Bryan Stepinski and Louis...
Bryan Stepinski and Louis Sylvester Jr. put the finishing touches on the installation of Ford Racing Performance Parts's Cobra Jet suspension kit for S197 Mustangs. The system was installed on Randy Mohrbach's '06 Mustang GT, Sutton HP's rolling laboratory for the upgrade parts and services it offers Mustang enthusiasts. Randy's son, Kyle Mohrbach, is the test driver at the track.
We've received several reports of S197 owners' taking advantage of Ford Racing Performance Parts sale of Cobra Jet parts through Ford dealerships' parts departments. The practice is a direct throwback to drag racing's heyday (the late '60s), when enthusiasts literally could transform their brand-new Mustangs into race cars before taking delivery by simply checking the appropriate boxes on an order sheet.
The GT is capable of running mid-12s at the dragstrip, but of course, going quicker and faster is usually the priority for 'Stang drag racers
As one would expect, the pieces worked well on the street, providing the low and mean stance that makes Mustangs look hot, and improving cornering and overall handling
There are hundreds of variables that have some type of an influence on our Mustangs' performance before, during, and after we run them down the quarter-mile. Some of these influences are minor and some are fairly major.
Here are the suspension pieces...
Here are the suspension pieces that are being swapped into Sutton HP's '06 Mustang GT. The FRPP Cobra Jet suspension (PN M-5649-CJ; $995) is highlighted by a tubular antiroll bar with adjustable links, tubular lower control arms and a double-adjustable upper link with a heavy-duty bracket. Ford Racing's front/rear CJ drag springs (PN M-300-Q; $89.99) are not included. The system is designed for '05-'10 Mustangs with 8.8 rearends, and bolts in place without any need for major modifying or fabricating on a 'Stang's chassis.
One particular factor ranks near the top of the importance chart, for each and every 'Stang that hits the strip. Care to guess what it is? If "traction" is your guess, you're 100 percent correct!
Basically, horsepower, reaction time, and weather conditions all contribute to a Pony's on-track situation. The truth of the matter is, none of them really matter all that much if your horse has a hard time getting out of the gate and covering the first 60 feet of the dragstrip.
While the Cobra Jet antiroll...
While the Cobra Jet antiroll bar replaces the factory sway bar, the OEM Panhard bar remains intact. A pair of QA1 single-adjustable rear shocks was installed before this operation was performed
While Randy Mohrbach's '06 GT isn't one of the project Mustangs in our lineup, we have been monitoring its progress as a street/'strip, R&D vehicle, and business card of sorts, for Sutton High Performance; the go-fast subdivision of Sutton Ford Lincoln Mercury in Matteson, Illinois. Randy is the store's general manager and founder of its high-performance extension, and he has been diligent about keeping us abreast of the Pony's upgrades, and how they affect its performance.
Prior to this exercise, installing Ford Racing Performance Parts Cobra Jet drag suspension for '05-'10 Mustang GTs (PN M-5649-CJ; $995), the crew at Sutton has methodically transformed the red S197 from stone stock, to moderately hopped-up. Its performance features include cams, long-tube headers, Sutton's-own CNC-ported heads, and several other bolt-ons. It's currently producing 380
rwhp without using a power adder.
The GT is capable of running mid-12s at the dragstrip, but of course, going quicker and faster is usually the priority for 'Stang drag racers. "Right now, we're trying to get into the low 12s or high 11s with this car," says Randy. "I bought this Mustang to use as a car that we could present to enthusiasts who visit Sutton High Performance, and to demonstrate the different mods that are possible for S197s."
Brian lifts the suspension...
Brian lifts the suspension system's tubular lower control arm into position. Although FRPP recommends using the CJ setup for drag-race-only S197s, the control arms feature urethane bushings as opposed to rod ends (which are more common on hard-core suspension pieces for drag-race cars). The poly bushings are more compliant than solid pieces, and will help maintain ride comfort on those Mustangs that are driven on the street.
Here is a closer look at the...
Here is a closer look at the Cobra Jet antiroll bar's mounting bracketry. Unlike other drag-race antiroll bars, the FRPP system is mounted low and pivots upward, as opposed to from the top, down. This design eliminates any need for welding, as the hardware is secured in the same places as the stock components. The brackets are fortified to ensure that the system remains rigid, so that loads are absorbed by the bar itself and not its links.
Compared to the lowering springs...
Compared to the lowering springs that were once installed, the FRPP drag springs lift the back end of Sutton HP's Mustang considerably.
Randy initially went the "slammed" route, bolting on Ford Racing Performance Parts' lowering springs and aftermarket upper/lower rear controls arms. As one would expect, the pieces worked very well on the street, providing the low and mean stance that makes Mustangs look hot, and improving cornering and overall handling. But at the dragstrip, in this suspension trim and with Mickey Thompson drag radials mounted on lightweight Bogart racing wheels, the Pony's best 60-foot time was 1.68.
"If you're trying to seriously drag-race an S197 Mustang, one of the car's biggest drawbacks to achieving good traction is its suspension system, which is not conducive to front-to-rear weight transfer," says Randy. "Our car was lowered, and that hurt its ability to hook and launch hard even more. I had been keeping tabs on how well the new Cobra Jet Mustangs have done at the track over the last year, and decided to try the bolt-on suspension kit on our car."
An antiroll bar is a tubular leverage device that attaches to a Pony's chassis and rearend housing, and helps increase or decrease the rear suspension's firmness. The adjustable bar basically works against chassis roll (brought about by torque), enabling a Mustang to plant both rear tires and launch squarely.
Of course, we've got photos and details for you straight away, so keep reading and see how Bryan Stepinski and Louis Sylvester Jr. (that's right, the NMRA Factory Stock racer) handled this bolt-on project, which takes about two-and-a-half to three hours to accomplish using basic hand and air tools.
On The Dragstrip
With the new suspension pieces in place, Sutton High Performance's return to the track and logged much-improved 60-foot statistics (1.62 compared to the previous best of 1.68).
"We're impressed with this setup," says Randy. "According to Kyle, the launch is much different and solid, with no roll and great hook. I'm sure we can get into the 1.50s with this suspension."
Since the upgrade, the Sutton HP crew has been fighting the challenge of getting the 'Stang to leave without bogging the engine. "The car now dead hooks when Kyle launches at 6,400 rpm. It never did that with the lowering springs and stock antiroll bar," says Randy.
Swapping the stout bracket...
Swapping the stout bracket and double-adjustable upper link is the most challenging task in this or any S197 rear-suspension installation. The upper link sits in the tight space that's directly above and forward of the rearend's center section. The arm allows Brian to dial-in the best pinion angle for the Mustang's new drag configuration.
The 'Stang's lowered look...
The 'Stang's lowered look is gone, but the tail rides higher now, hopefully for the sake of improved launch traction. "Ford Racing states this is a drag-race-only kit. After driving the car for about four months, the only concern is a little noise over bumps from the antiroll bar setup," says Randy. "Other than the noise, the ride quality is good and about the same as the original setup." Sutton HP is working on a quick-disconnect for the antiroll bar, which Randy says will make the system "much more streetable," from a creature-comfort perspective.
Brian adds preload to the...
Brian adds preload to the passenger-side, by turning the antiroll-bar link. This adjustment will increase downforce on the right side of the 'Stang.