Motovicity Ticket to Ride - Ford Mustang Build Part 2

by Mike Kojima

With a few more ponies under the hood and increased braking performance, it is now time for the team at Performance & Styling to tackle the handling and power delivery of the Motovicity Ticket to Ride Ford Mustang. The goal of the Ticket to Ride builds has been to showcase the performance gains that can be obtained from readily available quality bolt-on parts. and we now take a look at some of the better options available to keep your Mustang under control. In part two of the Motovicity Ticket to Ride Ford Mustang Build we stay on target with a set of KW Varient III Coilovers, Exedy Clutch, STACK gauges, Whiteline swaybars, Watts link and more.


For the Ticket To Ride Mustang, Motovicity chose KW's Variant III coilovers part# 35230045.  The Variant III is KW's high performance street oriented coilover with track capability.  The Variant IIIs are more softly valved and sprung than the weekend warrior Clubsport, but are still independently adjustable for compression and rebound damping and have KW's sophisticated valving.  The VIIIs are a daily-driver friendly coilover that can still take care of business on the track. Like Most KW street dampers, the VIIIs have a corrosion resistant stainless steel body.  The spring seat is stainless steel overmolded with a tough self lubricating plastic.  This stuff was designed to weather harsh German winters and have KW's limited lifetime guarantee.  These suckers won't seize up and are a true East Coast winter capable coilover.  I don't think any other coilover on the market can hold up to salted roads for long.
The VIIIs use a custom taper wound spring that allows the use of the stock upper spring seat.  They also use a tender spring to help keep tension on the spring pack when the suspension is extended under droop to keep things quiet.  The VIIIs also use micocellular urethane progressive bump stops with integrated dust boots.  The MCU bump stops allow for a more progressive cushion at the end of the travel and make the car less likely to get upset in a bumpy turns.
The Variant III uses the stock upper spring seat for less NVH in daily driving.  Pillowball mounts and camber plates allow for a lot more ride harshness and noise which is irritating in daily driving.  The shocks rebound damping adjuster is found up the top of the shock shaft where it is easy to get to.
Here is the VIII in place.  You can see how the tapered spring fits the OEM spring seat perfectly.
The rebound damping adjuster is found here at the bottom of the strut housing.  You can also see the slotted upper spindle bolt hole.  This gives you the ability to adjust camber from the bottom of the strut. The KW strut body is shorter so the suspension won't lose bump travel when the car is lowered.


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Friday, March 21, 2014 6:10 AM
"We find it hard to believe that Ford did not e-coat the axle housing just leaving it in rusty bare steel. Not only is this very yucky looking, we don't know how this could pass OEM level durability testing."

At least since the Fox era, they've been doing that. Hasn't been a problem, even on cars I've bought from the snow belt (although other parts of the undercarriage were most certainly rusted).
Friday, March 21, 2014 7:03 AM
On the axle housing not being e-coated, I certainly agree on the aesthetic problems with it, but otherwise lemming's statements are spot on. It's just surface rust, and would never cause any kind of durability issue.

Some comments on the watts link as well. It is 100% true that the watts is theoretically better than the panhard for the reasons stated in the article, but the reality is that on a street or street/track car, system compliance (deflection of the bushings, tires, and even the links themselves) will almost completely absorb any noticable difference. The whiteline watts link looks to be a very nice piece though, and I have no doubt it would function very well.

On the KWs used, I am curious to know how much camber adjustment there is on the slotted bolt area. Most S197 Mustang slotted struts don't have quite the necessary adjustment range to get camber back in line after lowering, and camber plates end up being required as well. I've not used KWs myself on a Mustang before, so I am very anxious to see the results on a track. I'd love to see a street/track comparison against some of the other adjustable shocks/struts on the market for the mustang.
Friday, March 21, 2014 7:19 AM
This article is deja vu isn't it?

Rara I remember my friend put camber/caster plates on his Fox and ended up with like 1* of caster and about 1 degree of camber. Admittedly, he wimped out on the camber and listened to the redneck doing his alignment, but those plates were maxxed at 1* of caster! I'm curious what the stock settings are on these cars and what the Motovicity car ended up with. I know the older platforms require aftermarket arms and, ideally, an aftermarket k-member to get the car aligned properly and not to 80s standards.
Friday, March 21, 2014 9:30 AM
For your friend's Fox, I'd bet that the camber plates he used were probably installed incorrectly. Most Foxes and SN95s you could get ~4-5 degrees of caster with decent CC plates. Generally, you would just push them back as far as they would go and check what you got, lol.

Aftermarket K-members and control arms on the Fox/SN95 cars really weren't for the static alignment, but for camber curves and bump steer. Lower one too far, and the camber curves turned into a disaster.

I'd have to check on the stock alignment for the S197; it's been awhile since I was really active in working on mustangs. These days I generally defer to my friends at Rehagen Racing that know way more about the latest in making mustangs fast than I do. In fact, I just put together a pile of parts with them to put on my personal '14 GT for this season of open track events.
Friday, March 21, 2014 9:57 AM
A lot of the aftermarket Fox/SN K-member and A-arm combinations DID have a significant influence on track and/or wheelbase, though. I still have an '03 with an MM K-member and non-offset A-arms, and the wheels are about 3/4" ahead of where they'd normally be; the car has about 7* of caster. The raised pick-up points for the control arms are a huge benefit (to the camber curve) too.

It seems like the S197s start out with a bit more caster than their earlier counterparts, unsurprisingly.
Friday, March 21, 2014 10:53 PM
More likely than the improper installation is the origin of said camber plates as my friend is a cheapass. I was apalled at the alignment spec sheet he presented me after it was done. I don't doubt for 1 second that the S197 cars are head and shoulders better than their predecessors when it comes to alignment, it seems a lot of these newer cars take fewer custom parts to get properly configured. It's almost like they used to build them wrong on purpose.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, March 21, 2014 11:00 PM
He probably had them backwards.
Monday, March 24, 2014 6:31 AM
Mike, that's exactly what I was thinking... it wouldn't be the first time I've seen it happen. Though, there were some really crappy CC plates out there for the Fox and SN95 platforms too, lol.

The S197 platform was a HUGE leap over the SN95. The Fox and SN95 go all the way back to the 1978 Fairmont. In fact, you can take all the modern SN95 aftermarket suspension bits that make the car run pretty well, and they will bolt right up to a '78 Fairmont wagon almost as well as they would bolt up to a 2004 Cobra (at least for the most part). The S197 saw a much better modified mac strut front end come in (there are a lot of similarities to the E46 front suspension). And while some view the solid rear axle as archaic, putting a decent 3-link suspension onto it makes it quite effective. Granted, it gives up a decent bit in the NVH dept., and mid-corner one wheel bumps can be unnerving. But you would be hard pressed to find anything that can put down that level of performance at that price and durability level. I do wish the 3rd link was longer of course, but Ford had the burden of making sure they could fit both a back seat and a fuel tank into the car, lol.

I'm not doing any real racing myself these days (I crewed for a pro raod race team for many years) so my S197 is just a street / open track toy, but I felt that the mods I needed were very limited compared to what I would run if I still had an SN95.
Monday, March 24, 2014 7:07 AM
The fun part with the Fox/SN95 was the sheer variety of different ways to "fix" the suspension. Want to fix the crappy 4-link setup? There's a parallel 4-link, at least two different companies make torque arm conversions, Fr0d made an IRS, and somebody used to make a 3-link. Any of the solid-axle options could be paired either with a Panhard rod or a Watts link. Want to fix the front suspension? Lots of aftermarket K-members and a few have experimented with double-wishbone setups.

Of course, it would have been nice to have a competent suspension from the factory...
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