Modern Conversions for Old Mustangs
(Last updated: 26 March 2012)
Those of us with the older 64-73 era "vintage" mustangs, and who use them regularly, will know that they whilst they look cool, they can leave something to be desired in terms of handling, braking, steering and general vehicle dynamics by comparison with modern vehicles. This tends to make the older cars less attractive as everyday drivers, and also not quite as safe either.
There is an increasingly popular alternative option involving fitting modern components into older body shells. This is not an attractive option for cars that have enhanced value because they are rare or collectible (Boss, Shelby, etc), but for the more routine models it is becoming a very viable option.
For example its now possible to fit the entire engine, gearbox, front and rear suspension complete with ABS brakes, from a late 90's Cobra, into a 67-73 Mustang. After conversion the external visual appearance of the car is not changed, and so you need not know the car has been modified until you check under the bonnet or look underneath. There are plenty of other conversion options as well including numerous braking and suspension improvements.
Effectively this means you can have a car with the fabulous looks of a classic mustang, but with the driving dynamics, responsiveness, and improved fuel consumption, of a newer Mustang.
1. Steering Conversions.
1.1 Rack and Pinion conversion (TCP)
Control Products make a rack and pinion conversion kit that will bolt into
any 64-73 mustang. The rack used is custom built for the job, rather than using
mountings for a second hand rack sourced from another model. Its available in manual
and powered versions. I tried this conversion myself, some years ago. Details are here.
1.2 Rack and Pinion (Fat Man Fabrications)
This commercial conversion involves replacing not only the
entire original steering system, but also most of the front suspension. Fatman
Fabrications offers a kit to convert early mustangs to Strut type suspension,
(using later model Mustang Uprights) and along with that a conversion to rack
and pinion steering using a US Escort/Temp type steering rack. Go
here for more information.
1.3 "Randalls Rack": Rack and Pinion Conversion .
This conversion uses a powered Chevy rack with custom designed mountings. Looks to be well designed. The Rack and Pinion are already secured to the cross member when you receive the system. After you have removed the old components the new cross member with the rack and pinion is bolted to the frame at 7 points using grade 8 bolts. No modifications required to the car other than to the steering column. Complete kits are offered with all items needed for the conversion including rack, bolts and power steering hoses and instructions. Cross member powder-coated black. www.randallsrack.com
1.4 Flaming River Rack and Pinion Conversions
Top quality conversions with solid mountings to the steering box and idler mounting bolt positions on the chassis rails. Manual and power kits available. Go here
This is a particularly nice and popular kit and comes only as a powered rack, with full bump steer adjustment (a real bonus), plus it will work just fine with the stock pump. Fits 65 through 70 models. Also available as a lower steering ratio (2.5 turns lock to lock), it also doesn't require the cross brace to be removed.
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Our Mustang kit covers 1964-70 Mustangs and we have been very successful selling
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on your site and we will extend a 10% discount off of the retail price.
1.6 RRS Conversions (Australia)
Revelation Racing Supplies in Australia has beautiful conversion kits.... Left and and Right hand drive... These kits are also available in the US.. see their website for more details For more information visit the RRS webpage here
1.7 Unisteer Rack and Pinion Conversion Kits (new!)
Nice looking kits complete with pump, hoses and tie rod ends, available in powered and manual options. Go here for more
1.8 Modern Steering Box Conversions
If your old Ford steering system is tired or you want to convert from a
manual system to a powered system, one relatively low cost option is to convert
over to a Toyota steering box for example the late 70's early 80's
Cressida. Other models such as Hilux may also have suitable boxes. Two of the
three mounting bolts fit straight through the existing Mustang holes but the third has to be drilled through the
chassis rail. The pitman arm needs to be modified by welding half of the Toyota
arm to half of the Mustang arm. This is not difficult to do but obviously must
be done properly by professional welders. Other boxes such as units from
Mitsubishi and Isuzu models can also be adapted.
Another excellent converted box option is available from Borgeson, which mounts to the original chassis holes as shown below.
2. Front Suspension
2.1 A complete Mustang II Front suspension (and steering)
This is a major exercise involving removing all the existing
front suspension, steering, and much of the shock towers. The Mustang II front
sub-frame assembly complete with suspension, brakes and rack and pinion steering
is then positioned in the correct location. Uprights are welded on to pick up
the existing chassis rails and thus attach it to the car. The two big advantages
are the conversion to R&P steering, and the big gain in engine bay space,
(by removal of the shock towers) giving more room for headers and making spark
plug changes so much easier. Check
this link. Easiest way to complete the conversion is to
buy one of the aftermarket kits now available such as:
Rod & Custom Motorsport. http://www.rcmotorsports.net/page6.html
This is a total Mustang II Front End Kit, with manual
or power rack, tubular upper & lower A-arms, Fully
adjustable coil-overs and has the small or big block mounts.
2.2 Late 90's era Cobra Macpherson strut conversion.
Under development by DVS Restorations. For more information see
Section 4 below.
2.3 TCP Coil-Over and Front Spring Conversion Kits.
This Total Control Products coil-over kit completely replaces the original suspension, but uses the original mounting points. Results in a drastic improvement in front end ride quality and handling. Check it out at the TCP site here
Total Control also have a more stock looking
spring system that replaces the older suspension with a better performing unit
of similar design. See second image above.
2.4 RRS Coil-Over Suspension Conversion (and disc brake upgrade)
Revelation Racing Supplies has a fully developed conversion kit to modify the standard double wishbone 64-73 era Mustang front suspension to Coil Over. The conversion takes only a few hours and is a simple bolt-in fit. Custom built components are used, and no welding, drilling or other permanent modification is made to the car, which can be converted back to stock at any time. Vented disc brake rotors and dual pot calipers complete the conversion. Go here for more information
The conversion is especially good with a rack and pinion
steering conversion, so as to improve the turning circle while still retaining
3.5 turns lock to lock.
2.5 Fatman Fabrications Strut Front Conversion, disc brake upgrade, and rack and pinion steering conversion.
This commercial conversion involves replacing the entire front
suspension with using custom made Strut type suspension. Very similar to
the Australian version in 2.4 above, except that later model Mustang Uprights
and disc brakes are used to reduce costs. Go here
for more information
2.6 Fatman Fabrications complete tubular front end! (New!)
The standard Ford front end sheet metal can only
be adapted to take so much loading. Perhaps a better way is to replace the
entire front end with a new stronger tubular steel assembly designed to take a
completed set of modern suspension and steering components, as well as to bolt
on your existing bonnet, fenders and front grill headlights etc. Super wide quad
cam motors will also fit no problem! Not cheap but..
Awesome! Check this
2.7 Air Ride Technologies
This company offers uprated suspension components
for mostly GM models but some early Model Mustangs are catered for.
Compressed air springs are included in the packages to enable the
ride height to be adjusted. Go
2.8 Global West Coil-Over
The Global West coil-over is one of the newest
systems and uses negative roll geometry. Currently available for 1967-70
Mustangs, it is multi adjustable for ride height and camber and will take a
multitude of braking systems. Two systems are available: One for drag racing and
street use, and one for road racing and performance applications. No cutting or
modifications required to the shock towers, but 6-10 holes have to be drilled to
mount the components.
Go here for more
2.9 AJE Racing Front conversion
Another complete front conversion kit. Around
$2300 depending on model and options.
Go here for more
2.10 Griggs Racing GR350 Front conversion (Racing)
Another complete from conversion kit for early
64-66 stangs. Includes rear suspension as well. Part for late model stangs too.
No good pictures on their website but basic descriptions are there.
3. Rear Suspension Conversions
3.1 Total Control Rear Suspension Conversions
Total control have a range of conversions for the rear of classic mustangs. The pushrod system as shown in the first image retains the beam axle (hence is not an IRS Unit) but otherwise has numerous nice design features, such as solid transverse location by a Watts linkage, ride height adjustment, and full anti-tramp torque arm for big power takeoffs. Nice, but real expensive at between $5,000! Check out the excellent pictures on the TCP website here.
TCP also have their G bar system in which
replaces the leaf springs and locates the axles more securely as shown in the
second image above. Big advantage? Cheaper at $2,500
3.2 IRS unit built by CTM Engineering (Updated Dec 2010)
This unit is nicely designed. The latest
version uses the Ford 9 inch diff and new wheel hub bearing housings.
The complete system costs about US$8,000. This includes
brakes, coil overs, 31 spline - 9 inch aluminum center, aluminum hubs with 35
spline axles, etc etc. Check it out
www.mustangirs.com However the site is less than helpful.. try digging into
the "media" section.
3.3 DVS Cobra IRS Unit
The late model Cobra unit installs relatively easily into 67-70 era stangs. DVS Restorations has done this conversion. Apart from mounting brackets, shocks, and a custom drive shaft, the conversion uses new Ford parts that you can order from any US Ford dealer. Ride height adjustable. The conversion kit is priced from $1200 + you have to source a Cobra IRS unit. For more information see section 4 below, or go here
3.4 Control Freak IRS Unit
A newer (2006) era IRS
conversion built specifically for classic Mustangs.
Basically a bolt in fit, but minor notching of the chassis
rails is needed. Go here for more info.
3.5 Air Ride Technologies
This company offers a serious uprating kit for
the rear suspension of some early Model Mustangs. The kit does away with the
leaf springs and replaces them with trailing links and compressed air springs to
enable the ride height to be adjusted.
3.6 Max G Systems: Rear conversion
This company offers a
really exotic chromoly complete chassis system
for rear suspension conversion, that is seriously expensive, but seriously good.
The entire old suspension is replaced with a new triangulated chassis system.