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Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords - On-Track Suspension Upgrade on a 2012 Mustang

S197 Suspension Upgrade - Be Rad
We show you a subtle way to improve your S197’s look and feel
From the November, 2011 issue of Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
By Marc Christ
Photography by Scott Parker

Over the past year, you may have noticed the increased effort that MM&FF has put into its video production. In this new age of technology, we've been striving to bring you the best Ford performance content, and video has been our newest outlet.

Much of this comes from the amazing behind-the-scenes effort of Brad Adler. B-Rad as we call him, is also the owner of an '11 GT-his first performance car in over two decades.

Brad drooled over the new 5.0L GT and was known for saying that the car was perfect, and he had no intention of molesting it, but he wasn't about to baby it. After a few trips to the strip, he got a taste of road course driving at the Track Guys event at Sebring International Raceway-now he's hooked.

Brad had talked about lowering the car to improve the looks, but after being on track, he also wanted to improve his GT's handling characteristics without sacrificing ride quality. Steeda Autosports had a few cars at the Sebring event, and the company has been known for its varying levels of performance parts and handling packages. It just so happens that it has a package perfectly suited to fulfill Brad's wishlist.

To reach his goals, our choice of weapon was Steeda's '11-12 Spring and Swaybar Pak (PN 555-2211; $699.95). Featuring Steeda Sport Springs, adjustable front swaybar, and rear swaybar with end links. We also ordered a set of Steeda's Pro Action shocks and struts (PN 555-8405; $419.95). And since this kit is designed for '05-'10 vehicles, we had to order the FRPP upper strut mounts (PN 161-M-18183-C; $104.95).

Armed with the new parts, a handful of handtools that we borrowed from our Snap-on box, and B-Rad's '11, we headed to Gainesville Raceway for a real-word suspension test. Once there, we utilized the 1.6-mile road course to baseline the Brad-mobile. On average, the Brembo-equipped Premium GT scooted around the tight course in 1:08.8. On the skidpad, it pulled 0.98 g. The suspension is finely tuned from Dearborn to provide the best of handling, longevity, and ride quality, but this leaves some room for tighter handling.

In spite of oppressive mid-90-degree weather, we grabbed the tools and began the swap. True to form, B-Rad was there, video camera in hand. Thanks to crew chief Pete Epple, we had the parts swapped in a little over an hour and headed back out on the track.

Now an inch lower in the front and 1.25-inches lower in the rear, Brad's GT felt much more level and balanced. On the road course, it averaged 1:08.3, an improvement of a half-second, and on the skid pad it pulled 1.07 g.

Check out Mustang & Ford Videos & Video Clips - Muscle Mustang and Fast Fords Magazine to see the video.

The Big Purchase By Brad Adler
I've been planning the purchase of a Mustang for a long time. The first taste of wanting one was in my friend's '87 LX 5.0 in the late '80s. Unfortunately, this dream had to be put on hold for other priorities-school, work, and raising a family. This year, patience finally paid off, and I am now the proud owner of an '11 GT.

When I first bought it, I was asked if I planned any mods. I was so pumped to have this Stallion, I didn't think any were needed, so I planned on leaving it stock. Then I started questioning my initial reaction. As happy as I was with it stock, I couldn't help notice the insane amount of space between the wheelwells and tires, even with the upgraded 19s that came with the Brembo package. I tried to ignore this eyesore, but I wanted to close the gap.

I then got the opportunity to attend a driver's training course at Sebring International Raceway. This experience solidified my desire for better appearance and overall handling. The stock ride simply leaned too much in the corners and had too much nosedive on braking. I couldn't get the desire for a suspension upgrade out of my head.

Contemplating all the options was difficult, however, after doing a ton of research, an upgrade was made using Steeda components. Initially, I had considered just adding lowering springs, but I didn't want to be left craving the total package, so shocks, struts and sway bars were added.

The parts have now been installed, thanks to Pete Epple and Marc Christ, associate editors of MM&FF. The profile has improved the most, but all angles look better and balanced, and there is a significant improvement in handling. While I do notice more road imperfections, it isn't bothersome, and the improvement in performance and appearance far outweigh the change from its softer ride.

Read more: S197 Suspension Upgrade - Be Rad - Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords Magazine
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