SHELBY GT 350 Member
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: see user name
I've had a Spec stage 1 since about 6 years ago at 82K (now at 118K), been very happy with it and it does allow some room for growth; should handle near 400whp should I ever be so fortunate. I also used the opportunity to swap up to an aluminum flywheel as well.
Depends on how much you feel like spending and what your goals are. Be careful to stay away from getting "too much clutch"; no need for something that's rated for 550whp or whatever if you realistically know you'll never be there. Generally speaking, the higher level of performance a clutch is designed for will impact driveability. Most manufacturers "stage 2" type clutches are still quite streetable, but getting into stage 3 or more it will begin to have the engagement characteristics of something resembling an on/off switch. And since we have manually actuated (non hydraulic assist) clutches, it usually makes for a heavier pedal as well.
I don't think you can really go wrong with any of the major well known brands out there. Read plenty of reviews on AM, Latemodel and Amazon before making a choice. One that I would be super interested in next time around for myself would be the Centerforce Dual Friction. It can handle lots of power (upwards of 450-500 whp), very nice engagement characteristics and I've heard some say that pedal effort is actually less than the stock factory clutch. You're gonna pay for it though, they run around $400.
As far as shop or diy, depends really on your skills and tools. Personally, I'm sure if I had a helper in the room for a little moral support and an extra set of hands that I could get through a clutch install. But honestly without the use of a lift I really don't see myself trying to R&I a transmission while laying on my garage floor; there's only so high you can get the car jacked up and I imagine it would be quite a cramped working space that way; if we were talking about a truck or something that had more ground clearance to begin with then my answer might be different. So shop gets my vote, unless they have a flat charge for the job then expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 to 5 hours labor at whatever the going rate. That, and if it isn't quite right then it's up to them to make it right rather than you having to crawl back under there.
Additional parts.... I'm sure you've been around here long enough to be aware that use of oem (dealership parts dept) or FRPP thowout bearings are generally recommended over what is supplied in your clutch kit. The bearings from my Spec kit have held up fine (I didn't know back then) but there are numerous accounts out there of extremely premature tob failure (like anywhere from 500 to 5,000 miles in) with aftermarket bearings. Also, with any performance oriented clutch you need to get an aftermarket quadrant and firewall mounted cable adjuster setup (along with fresh cable). The plastic factory quadrant and self-adjustment mechanism just doesn't work well with aftermarket clutches, and can lead to either driveability issues or premature failure of your new clutch disc. Some people (I didn't) also elect to replace the clutch fork - sort of a "while you're in there" thing that doesn't add much additional expense. It's really only necessary to do if your current fork is bent, but you won't know that until it's all apart.
2001 GT Convertible
All the usual bolt-on's /200 I6, C4
And a few Explorers too... 2008 4.0 XLT 4x2, 1996 XLT 5.0 4x2, 2003 Sport Trac XLT 4.0 4x4