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I just bought a 2004 Mustang GT with a manual transmission. I am new to all of this and I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice on where to start with performance parts and all. I plan to do drag races on 1/4 of a mile and 1/8 of a mile strips.
 

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Absolutely. Hope you get lots of response. If I post my advice, that'll trigger 6 guys describing how it's all wrong, which is healthy.

Get two M-T ET Street 26-10.5-17 DOT bias ply drag tires. Mount them on someone's castoff curb-ding 17-inch Bullitt, GT, or Cobra R wheels. Install an aftermarket shifter - I swear by the Pro 5.0, but the MGW is the new hot thing. Next, get a stand-alone shift light and install it just under the lip of the dash. Use it to not use too high a shift RPM and to make it so you never take your eyes off downtrack. Running on the stock tires will be frustrating. Hence, my advice.

Do a line-lock after running the above for a season. Until then, learn how to foot-brake burnout (and abuse your rear brakes, but that's life). Track time is the most important thing. You'll be way ahead if you optimize your car and you before doing mods like exhaust, intake, and gears etc.

Things like the above have my 2003 Mach 1 running 12.50s/12.60s in good air and winning a drag trophy or two a year, and I still haven't modified the stock exhaust from full factory cats and the rest of it. 4.30 gears and a 58 year old's lack of fear of breaking things helps. Now, let's see what others say.

Race often, race cheap.
 

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You can get as nutty as your budget will allow. Start with giving us a dollar amount you can work with.

At the very least: Gears and get rid of the stock LCA's.
 

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sub frame connectors, gears, short throw shifter, sticky tires, control arms
 

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Is it going to be a track only? or is it going to be a street strip?
I would go with Rear end gears (3.73s, or 4.10s), Lower and upper Control arms, and some drag radials. thatll help you atleast get your 60ft down and keep you going down the right track.
 

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For $5k, do complete suspension first. Call Dave at Team Z Motorsports, and tell him you want the works. You can get into the mid-12's with suspension and some weight loss.

Then do subframe connectors, gears and a tune. Then start with full exhaust, and work towards all the bolt-ons.

Bolt-Ons with full suspension, and some weight loss will get you into the low 12's with a bone stock engine. Faster than a Terminator.
 

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get you into the low 12's with a bone stock engine

:scratchchin Really? He has a 4.6 SOHC. How much weight loss did you have in mind?
 

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300-400lbs is all it would take with a good suspension.

I ran 12.9's on 256rwhp with just sticky tires and 150lbs down.

I still have a bone stock engine, and I'm looking for 12.4's my next time at the track, albeit with more than 256rwhp this time, I would guess I'm at around 275rwhp naturally aspirated.

My car weighs about 3050 right now, and is still a daily driver. It will be at 2900lbs before I go to the track again.
 

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Then, nice work, Bullitt5339! Too bad you don't live near here where we have two good Pro Tree classes your car would fit in (and you'd have a blast).

AZGun73, I left out the next key thing: if you are not on an extreme budget, you should schedule some better axles. It sounds like you're pretty serious, and somehtime after 50-100 hard launches on good tires, you will break one (always the left side, it seems, and I have a theory why). While you're at it, new gears and fresh everything. "Best street/strip rear axle build" is a whole thread by itself.

Somewhere in the mix, lightweight drag wheels will make life in the burnout box easier and will be worth about .08 in the 1/4 (maybe more). An idea: Race Star Industries Drop down to "2001 Mustang Bullitt" to see.
 

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I broke an axle on drag radials with stock-ish power. If you go with a 15" wheel and more sidewall, it seems the chances of breaking an axle go way down, although it's still easily possible to do. The softer the sidewall, the more jolt it takes away from the axles themselves.
 

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I imagine that rather than put all the torque onto the axle at once, you bind the sidewall, almost like a torsional spring. Essentially, the first thing is axle feels is the force due to the tire's deformation, then once the tire has reached its maximum deformation it starts to move the car. The torsional load on the axle is ramping up over time, rather than a quick impulse load. When you start getting really high strain rates, metals will begin to exhibit different responses...

How have these axles failed? Any pictures? Is it a shearing failure of the shaft itself... or at some point that has been machined locally?
 

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Mine broke at the splines, twisted them right off.
 

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The splines will create stress concentrations, really any break in the diameter of the shaft will... its all about disrupting the flow of stress throughout the part. Failure probably occurred at the base of the spline and the spline itself separated from the shaft body. The only way around this is by making the axle harder (increasing the amount of stress each spline can take) or increasing the number of splines (decreasing the load on each spline). I think Ford thought of this :winks
 

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Both of mine (2002 and 2009) were left side, just at the splines. One started to twist a small amount like bread dough and broke, and the other just broke. Both were on soft sidewall tires and at the launch, and both times the car moved 4 inches or not at all.

The left side theory is that the torque reaction forces that side preferentially down into the pavement, aggravating the whole shock or at least giving that side "nowhere to go" stress-wise. But that's just speculation. Don't assume the 15 inch drag setup gives you any margin over a 17-inch bias DOT drag setup; the two cases were one of each.

Too bad we can't have an event where all of us do a track rental and a Gear Jammer's Pro Dial, a .500 Pro Tree, dial-your-own, zero breakout shootfest.
 

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Preloading the axles slowly, like foot breaking an automatic, should reduce this. I wonder how long they last behind an automatic?

50 hard launches... SCARY.
 
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