The Mustang brings about happy thoughts of motoring through the countryside-wind in your hair, smile on your face, and hands on the wheel to keep the Pony between the lines. You don't like to think about not being able to stop without a boat anchor or steering into a corner and wondering if you'll come out the other side in your lane or your neighbor's.
Ford won a Tiffany Award for great styling, not braking and handling. The suspension that Ford put under the first Mustangs was the same coilover, double A-arm stuff that was in vogue with the '60 Falcon. Today, we're used to rack-and-pinion steering even in our pickup trucks. And suspension/braking technology has blown past the days of single-action shocks, burly coil springs, and one-size-fits-all spindles and drum brakes. These days, even the cheapest econobox on wheels has a set of disc brakes up front. So rather than use the same old (and tired) suspension basics, Australia's RRS threw all of it out in favor of a more modern approach.
The RRS system is simple, dumping everything from the double A-arm and coil spring to the spindle that was designed when Eisenhower was president. With the old technology out of the way, you can install RRS's modern McPherson strut and brake kit as well as rack-and-pinion steering. RRS has also just released its new three-link coilover rear suspension to make an even bigger dent in the handling woes of the Mustang. Add RRS's bolt-on rear disc brakes and suddenly you are sitting pretty-and running fast and safe.
Of course, all of this is just words. RRS set out to prove the mettle of its products during the Mid America Performance Ford and Team Shelby Nationals last summer. On a hot and humid Oklahoma weekend, RRS put the rubber to the track to show just what could be done to a '65 Mustang in a 30-hour time period.
First Things First
When we arrived at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, the team from RRS and Gateway Classic Mustang had set up their Mid America display and were waiting for their turn to run the car for baseline figures. While the track buzzed with everything from a '65 Falcon to a new Shelby Super Snake, fab guru Darell Johnston and Gateway co-owner Lonny Childress were busy applying gatewayelvis.com stickers to the flanks of the maroon '65 coupe belonging to Nick Branson, a 19-year-old shop hand at Gateway.
The Vintage Wheel Works' Vintage...
The Vintage Wheel Works' Vintage 45s needed some creative fender clearance work to make the tire and wheel package come together. This step is less critical on the RRS product because of the suspension's reaction under compression. In short, it will not rub like the stock stuff.
"I helped sponsor the car, so maybe I can get some return on the investment," quipped Darell, who happens to be an Elvis tribute artist in his off hours. Thankfully, he didn't curl his lip or strike a pose.
"The car was a six-cylinder," chimed in Jason Childress, Lonny's brother and also a Gateway co-owner. "Dad had a '67 289 with 67,000 miles and 15 years of barn time, so we dropped it in, broke the crud loose, and started it up." The engine still sports the original two-barrel carb, intake, and exhaust manifolds. The four-speed was one that Gateway mechanic Darrel Bloomner (we know there's a joke in there somewhere about Darell and his other brother Darrel, but as far as we know they aren't related) had "lying around." Somehow, V-8 suspension parts, bellhousing, clutch, and flywheel, as well as all the other tasty bits that make a V-8 conversion, found their way onto the car just one week prior to the event.