Project "Road Warrior" gets Stage I suspension upgrade
Anyone who has been around foxes for any length of time knows their chassis is about as solid as an empty can of Bud Light. When Ford was building these cars they did so with cost in mind, not performance. Which is not to say they were simply horrible, if you were to compare them to something like a Lincoln Town Car, but from a performance perspective they left a lot to be desired. Luckily, the aftermarket has been coming to the rescue for many years, and overcoming these issues is just a click away.
The build up of project "Road Warrior" is not exactly a simple one. Our '92 LX will have many things asked of it, a jack of all trades so to speak. True to it's name, it will be making many a journey to events across the country, and we don't want to arrive badly beaten from a log wagon ride. At the same time, we dont want to sacrifice handling either. We are also very much into hitting the drag strip for some blasts down the 1/4 mile. We don't ask for much now do we? Suffice to say that RW will be a master of none, but will hold it's own.
To achieve this monumental task, we went straight to the experts at Maximum Motorsports. We were greeted with a very different approach for how to begin our suspension build. The very first question asked by MMs Jack Hidley was what our goals were for the car. Next, they emailed us a questionnaire regarding all things related to the car. With all of this information, Jack was able to guide us the proper way to achieving our goals. I must say I was very impressed with the process, as opposed to just throwing parts at the car, not knowing how they would work together. That is true value.
With our project car being essentially stock in the suspension department, save for a set of cheap springs and KYB shocks/struts, we were starting from scratch. The only other addition was our MM caster camber plates, which were installed a few years ago. With RW going full tilt with Maximum Motorsports grip package, the Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plates will work perfectly.
Jack suggested we begin with a set of their full length subframe connectors, and adjustable lower control arms. Subframe connectors are a must, as they join the front and rear subframes of the car. "When a cars chassis flexes as much as a fox, it does not allow the suspension to work the way it is designed" said Jack.
Next on the list were the adjustable lowers. The lower control arms eliminate the soft rubber bushings, which aids traction by reducing unwanted deflection. The adjustable spring perch allows us to dial in ride height, and will allow us to add some preload when we hit the drag strip.
With some help from Jeremy Dover at Dover's Garage, we set out to tighten up RW. The supplied instructions are extremely detailed, and give a step by step guide to getting them done right. As your author has no welding skills to speak of, we left those duties in Dover's capable hands.
What is required for installing the subframe connectors is a welder, extra pair of hands, a grinder, and preferably a lift. Mock up the subframes per the instructions, and mark around all of the weld points. Once the areas are marked, take your grinder and remove the paint or undercoating to get clean metal for welding them in. Next, remove the rear seat bolts for the front seats, and replace them with the grade 8 hardware provided in the kit. This provides the mounting point for the seat braces, adding extra rigidity.
Once the subframes are totally welded in, take a can of spray paint and hit the connectors, including the welds. Being bare metal, rust will take hold quickly.
Next up was our lower control arms. These are a simple affair having a bolt at the axle, and a bolt at the body. Remove the rear sway bar, and support the control arm so as not to allow the spring to take flight. Slide in the supplied bushings, and grease the ends well to avoid squeaks. Once installed, you can begin dialing in your ride height.
Start to finish, stage 1 took us less than three hours to complete. Once we had the rear adjusted to our liking, it was time to see how they performed. Needless to say, we kicked ourselves for not doing this sooner. The difference was truly amazing. The car felt so tight, and 90% of the rattles are gone. Hitting bumps now provided a solid thud, as opposed to a half full box of rocks. Not only that, but the car is now sending all of the power to the ground, getting rather tail happy where before it did not. With energy going to the tires, instead of causing chassis flex, we are now on the hunt for a more sticky tire. Stay tuned for stage II. CR