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Shelby Drop Front Suspension Mod. Print E-mail

During hard cornering the Mustang body had a tendency to lift a wheel off  the pavement and to plow in to the turn.
Klaus Arning, Ford's own  suspension engineer, redesigned the front end of the car by lowering the inner pivot of the upper control arms exactly one inch.
Lowering the body resulted in greater changes in the wheel camber during cornering, keeping  the wheels vertical to the ground.
It also lowered the front end's roll center and reduced the body's plowing.
To further stiffen the front end, a 1.00 inch anti-roll bar replaced the stock .84 inch stock GT bar. The live, rear axle was held in place with a 4-leaf, semi-elliptical leaf spring and beefy torque reaction arms sitting on top of the axle and anchored through the floor to the chassis. 
These changes made the car handle more quickly and precisely.
The ultimate Ford Mustang.

These templates are available from Opentracker
Opentracker Templates

Lowering the Front End of a Mustang

One of the Shelby American tricks on the early GT 350s was to lower the body.
The factory did this modification to all 65's and the 66's up to and including #252.
This was Ford engineer Klaus Arning's idea.
Klaus also developed the suspensions for the 427 Cobras and the GT 40.
He happened on to the idea of lowering the control arms while experimenting with an independent suspension rear end for the 1964 Mustang.
Ford vetoed the extra cost of an independent rear suspension in the Mustang but passed the idea of lowering the car on to Shelby American.

By dropping the height of the body, the center of gravity is lowered.
This helped the handling of the car by reducing the body roll by 8% during cornering.

To do this modifications you need:

  • The lowering template full size included here
  • A lug wrench, a jack, some jack stands (you'll need to raise the front of the car to remove the wheels.)
  • A one-inch socket to remove the shock absorbers
  • A spring compressor
  • A three-quarter inch wrench to remove the control arm mounting nuts
  • An electric drill and a 17/32" bit (you might need a smaller bit to start the hole in the shock towers.)
  • A couple of cement blocks (or another set of jack stands) to support the rotor hub assembly.

This will take you at least 4 hours to do this job.
Renting a spring compressor will make the job a lot easier.

Steps:

  1. Use the jack stands to support the front end. Remove the wheels and shock absorbers
  2. Compress the front springs. You don't have to remove them although if you do it will give you more room to work
  3. Use the cement block to support the brake rotor or lower control arm.
  4. Unbolt the upper control arm from inside the engine compartment. Save the original shims (65 & 66 only).
  5. Swing the upper control arm assembly, rotor and spindle assembly to the side. Don't strain the brake line.
  6. Using the template from this article and trim out the holes.
  7. Secure the template in place on the car using the original bolts in the original holes using 1/2 inch bolts. Note that this template is drawn for the driver's side. Flip it around to use on the passenger side.
  8. Mark the center of the new holes using the template.
  9. Drill the new holes. It probably will work best to drill a smaller hole in the center then work up in two or three steps to the 17/32" hole.
  10. Install the upper control arms in the new mounting holes. Be sure to replace the alignment shims in the 65-66 models in the reverse order that you removed them. (Remove an even thickness of about 1/8"-1/4" of shims from each position to compensate for the increased positive camber affected by the lowering.)
  11. Reassemble the front suspension by reversing the way you took it apart.

You'll have to have the front end of the car re-aligned.
Get it to a frame shop as soon as you can to save on excessive tire wear.
If you have wide tires on the front they may rub the fender now do to excessive positive camber.
You can help alleviate that by taking out more shims in the 65-66 or adjusting the lower control arm inner pivot on the 67-70 camber adjusting cam.
You can also use spring boosters to raise the front end off the tires or install smaller tires.
Using spring boosters kinda defeats the purpose of lowering the car though. 
If you use smaller tires make sure you have the tires and rims on the car you are going to use when you have the front end aligned. (and take out the spring boosters.)

Alignment specs for lowered Mustangs (only):

Chuck Cantwell, Shelby American GT 350 project engineer recommended 2 degrees positive caster, 1 degree negative camber and 1/8 " toe in for all years of Shelby Mustangs. 
You can play with settings for different applications. 

 
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