Early 1965 fastback front suspension journey - Vintage Mustang Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
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Early 1965 fastback front suspension journey

After researching each step for months, contacting vendors and manufacturers, and trying a few combinations, here is what I arrived at for my 65 mustang front suspension built. I post this here to share back to those who’s comments have helped me along the way and also because I have not found anyone online with this exact configuration so I thought that I would share the results.

My goal was a road hugger that sits with 1/4-1/2” inch space between fender and tire on front and back respectively. Currently new tires are not in the budget, so I am working with 15 year old Yokohama P225-60R15 95H on both front and rear. While there are many products available my goal was for a good street performing car with additions that I was able to install without having to pay for work or unnecessary parts in order to keep costs in check. Directionally I followed much of the advice from John at OpenTracker, but not on every point. In one of my original emails to John he provided a starting point stating:

“The 5 mods we start with are a larger front sway bar, the Bilstien shocks, the roller perches and roller idler arm and we change the alignment settings from the factory settings to a performance alignment. We make these 5 changes to all of the cars, no matter what the use. After that, we channel the mods towards the goal and use of the car.”
I already had the front sway bar and I have a rack and pinion power steering unit installed, so no idler arm is in play, thus only 3 missing items. I did also have original springs and a front and back mismatched set of shocks, so I was back up to 4.

On the cost front I wanted to apply changes that would make a difference and leave me with a car that is fun to drive and navigates free of wheel rub; function over form (excessive drop is not worth an annoying wheel rub on corners). Anything that seemed unnecessary or extra fancy was out of budget (tubular upper control arms). Also, I sourced parts from locations, in group packages, and at times to take advance of rebates.

What was installed (with source and notes)
1. 1” Arning/Shelby drop for improved handling
a. Source - Arning Shelby Suspension Drop.pdf
b. Drops car 5/8”

2. OpenTracker Roller spring perches
a. P/N ORP-1001
b. Source - https://opentrackerracing.com/produc...pring-perches/
c. These are a very popular upgrade and after removing my original perches I can see why they exist. The seals on the originals where completely shot and didn’t rotate at all.

3. Moog upper ball joint
a. P/N K8036
b. https://www.fme-cat.com/overlays/par...e=Ball%20Joint
c. Source - https://www.oreillyauto.com
d. One of the original ball joint seals was shot so I replaced both. Removing the ball joints required careful/slow grinding of rivet heads to then punch out rivets which I found was easier with UCA removed from car.

4. Eibach Progressive Rate Springs
a. Purchase as kit P/N 1135-1099
b. Source - 1135 1099 - Koni Special Series Suspension Kit - Race Consulting Agency - PARTS | KNOWLEDGE | PASSION
c. P/N printed on spring is 3564.001
d. Drops car 1”
e. Note: OpenTracker advises against progressive rate springs, instead preferring constant rate springs to keep the ride experience predictable. While this makes sense to me and I thought about this one a lot, I still went with what I know from other installations.
f. Spring rate is 400-520 lb progressive rate. Which is softer than the popular 620# springs, however the perch move makes them similar.

5. Koni Special D Classic Red Shocks
a. Purchased as kit P/N 1135-1099
b. Source - 1135 1099 - Koni Special Series Suspension Kit - Race Consulting Agency - PARTS | KNOWLEDGE | PASSION
c. I wanted to go with something close to what the original Shelby had and also like the adjustable option.
d. These also carry a lifetime warranty.
e. Note: OpenTracker prefers Bilstein which are reported to have a more modern valving system.

6. Global West 1/2” Spring Spacer
a. P/N 2011
b. Source - 1964-1973 Mustang ½ Inch Front Coil Spring Spacer Global West Suspension
c. Provides 1” lift at the wheel
d. I wanted a reasonably priced solid form option with a shoulder to “lock in” the spring location. These are installed without the original rubber dampers, which don’t fit inside the spacer.

7. Reworked the Upper Control arms including Control Arm centering (OpenTrackerRacing)
a. Complete disassemble and re-center of mounting shaft between threaded end caps (requires mounting bolt removal without damaging threads), tighten end caps just until tension is felt in shaft rotation then lock off end caps with Red Loctite. John uses a more permanent locking method in the prebuilt arms.
b. One of my upper control arm ring bolts was off center by a half rotation which is apparently common from the factory according to John at OpenTracker.
c. My end caps already had angled zerk grease fittings installed, however I did find that I had to be careful how much grease was installed as over stuffing would cause the seals to bulge when end caps were tightened down.
d. Re-Installed new Grade 8 fiber nut and washer in place of lock washer for a slight modernization.

8. 1” Spring Perch Move
a. https://opentrackerracing.com/innovations/ (scroll down page)
b. https://opentrackerracing.com/produc...ve-1-template/
c. Provides ½” lift at the wheel and increases spring rate 100 lb.
d. I found that a 3/8” drill for mounting hole fit perfect even though this is actually smaller than the original hole.
e. Perches come with new fiber nut and bolt (of a more fine thread than original). Another option is to remove and reuse the original bolt and nut, though I would still source and use a fiber nut.
f. If you need to make this change with the UCA on the car a 90 degree angle on the drill is helpful/required.

9. OpenTrackerRacing Alignment specs
a. Source - https://opentrackerracing.com/technical/
b. These settings are similar to the print out found here: http://dazecars.com/dazed/drop.html
c. I was lucky to find a shop in north Austin TX area that still does shim adjustments, sitting on a modern rack. https://local.firestonecompleteautoc...d-620-n-bldg-e

Having installed the Eibach Sportline/Koni Orange combination on two more modern mustangs (2008 & 2013) and really liking the feel of the ride, I decided to try and replicate on the classic mustang. Also, I like the history of the Koni Reds on the original Shelby mustang even though I know others would say that Bilstein’s are better. Apparently the Koni Reds can also be revalved to match springs rates (Example: MaecoMotorsports SP3-RR – which are revalved for racing applications), but this was out of budget for now. Koni also has a lifetime warranty which is nice. Starting here, my other decisions were made to make necessary repairs (ball joints) and to arrive at the correct ride height (spacer and perch move).

Removal of the Upper Control Arm (UCA) was necessary to perform the axle centering step. While removed I replaced the ball joints and spring perches which were installed in new holes located 1” outboard of original location. Make sure to check first to see if your model of UCA will physically support this new location (see the OpenTracker posting). Also when removing if alignment shims were installed previous keep careful track of the locations.

Spring compression
The right advice and tools make all the difference in the world! For tools another VMFer @Kelly_H helped me out here by lending me these two beautiful tools. OTC 7045B Front Coil Spring Compressor & 1-1/4" 12 point ratcheting combination wrench (Husky P/N HRW1I14). I went through the spring compression process many times and these were a life saver! Some advise was also offered here in that removing the spring covers takes a little more time, but in the long run saves time. I tried it both ways and cover removal is the way to go for sure.

Advise, through all of this most of the decisions were made through online research. The one external and consistent voice of assistance came from John at OpenTracker Racing Products [email protected] . About 30 emails later I can say that John’s support is simply amazing and completely answered all of my questions sent to email in a few days offering open support and a willingness to go above and beyond with additional guidance, free of change. I am already talking to John about rear suspension which is next up on the list. VMFers support this AMAZING partner whenever possible!

Koni Red Shock Adjustment (OpenTracker)
With adjustable shocks the question is where to start with this adjustment? To begin I mentioned my experience with installation and driving Koni Orange which is the newer Orange (STR.T) model and is apparently similar to a red on a middle setting.
"Rear shocks on our car are just 1/4 turn from full soft on the rear and about 1/4 to 1/3 of the range, near the middle of the adjustment up front. Close to half way between soft and firm up front, 1/4 turn from soft in the rear.” – John
With the complete range of the Koni Red shock being 2 ¾ turns from soft to firm, I went with 1-1/3 turns from full soft on front and 1/4 turn from full soft in the rear.
Koni Classic Red adjustment direction: looking down shock shaft with larger reservoir pointing away from you Clockwise = Firmer & Counter Clockwise = Softer

Koni Sticker Location
The Classic Red shocks come with the classic sticker which I installed in a similar location to the originals. This location was apparently not consistent from the factory, so I got them close to original. Here is a look at locations: Virginia Classic Mustang Blog: Just the Details...1966 Shelby GT350 Restoration and Koni Shocks Also note that the stickers are often smashed in the box during shipping and a little heat from a warm iron can help to straighten them out prior to installation.

When sourcing hardware I have found that given my local options Lowe’s has better options than Home Depot for grade 8, special (like unusual thread spacing), and stainless bolts.

Eibach has rebates two times a year March - May, August - Oct, so if you time it right and are willing to do a little extra paperwork you can hit one of these rebates to save a little on the shocks and springs.

In the end I ended up with my goal on the front suspension feeling like the other two mustangs a drove. Suspension leaves enough room so that wheel rub is a non-issue and the ride is firm and feels stable and connected to the road. I am very happy with the result which has made the car a blast to drive!

Ride Height Pictures

I'm posing a picture of the result on the front drivers side, though my ride height is not complete with the rear still needing new springs to replace the sagging originals. I will post once those are installed, however I am shooting for the front to look like the posting from Rudi Marczi or Steve Wilkes with a little clearance above each tire sitting in the well here: https://www.mustangsteve.com/rideheight.html

Work prior to installing the 1" perch move that was actually added on a second round of work to gain back an additional 1/2" of height to hit the target and a picture of the final front stance.
Complete disasssembly of UCA
Arning Drop
Original and Eibach spring comparison
Completed UCA (prior to perch move)
Final front driver ride height
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Left Front - Complete.jpg (421.7 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_5613.jpg (486.9 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_5616.jpg (466.2 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_5617.jpg (421.2 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_5627.jpg (330.6 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_6207.jpg (372.4 KB, 16 views)

Last edited by gnsh; 03-30-2019 at 04:39 AM.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 07:48 AM
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I Like the look of the tire to the fender..Can you post a overall side pic??
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 09:09 AM
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I understand keeping prices/spending in check, but 15 year old tires? Your really pushing your luck. A shredded tire when you are checking the “new” cornering abilities could spell disaster. Hell just going down the road and having a belt separate can take out a fender or quarter panel real quick. Replacing a fender and paint is much more $ than a set of tires. You might need to move the tires up the list of purchases. Don’t ask me how I know!
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 06:18 PM
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Thanks for the great step-by-step with parts list! Very helpful for others!

Calamity Jane 1966 Modified Fastback - Driven semi-daily!
Wrecked and rebuilt even better
289 v8, 4-speed, 3.25 9" rear, goodies and stuff.

See my travel blog here for my adventures: http://mapandamustang.blogspot.com/
Over 50,000 miles of North American roads driven on road trips since 2014. More always in the works - stay tuned!

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