The life of a comic book persona is filled with battles against various groups or life forms. No matter which side of the ethical coin they fall into, there is always a developing story that interferes with the main character’s ultimate goal that needs to be addressed. These battles, usually of epic proportions, take time to plot out and prepare, before the final stage of combat takes place. Sound familiar? Well, if you’re anything like us, then that has happened on more than one occasion when building a vehicle with a performance goal in mind. Project Magneto is no different and we’ve decided to go with Steeda suspension to make sure we’re ready for battle.
Although the comic book villain turned superhero faced formidable foes on paper, we’ve been preparing for battle in the confines of the shop. We regard modified Mustangs as superior to stock ones and have no intention to fall into the micro-record realm of stock vehicle racing. This isn’t because Ford Motor Company did not build a capable car, it’s because we’re greedy and want to maximize horsepower well past any reasonable amount. To make the most power and utilize it at the drag strip, we wanted to incorporate Steeda’s products, such as the Stop The Hop kit, that are designed for the budget-minded enthusiast racer, like ourselves.
From The Factory
If you’re a Mustang fan, then you can probably list off the few years that the Mustang came equipped with an independent rear suspension (IRS) from the factory. It was so rare that an argument could be made that the Mustang had been purposely directed towards the dragstrip, rather than the road course, or at the very least had been held back from taking advantage of an improved rear suspension for road course action. In any case, the ease of launching a solid rear axle (SRA) is not lost upon us, but that is neither here, nor there. Project Magneto is equipped with an IRS and we plan on equipping it to handle the stress induced when trying to launch at the drag strip.
Ford built a car that does everything very well, we’re just looking to turn that volume knob to 11. -Chris Cervenka, Steeda
We decided to utilize the knowledge and talents Chris Cervenka, marketing director of Steeda Autosports to get us up to speed on which products would give Project Magneto the best bang for the buck. After all, the team at Steeda was the first to run a 9-second pass in a naturally aspirated S550 Mustang with its Silver Bullet. That car still holds the record for fastest naturally aspirated S550!
Stoppin’ The Hoppin’
As most 2015-2023 Mustang owners know, wheel hop is one of the biggest concerns when launching the platform on a sticky surface. In 2022, we attempted to dispel it as hearsay or driver error, but our stock GT500 quickly made it known it is a legitimate factor, as we faced wheel hop early in our first track outing. While the engine in the GT500 packs a hefty 760 horsepower between its strut towers, Project Magneto’s goals are to exceed that and we didn’t want to take any chances in the rear suspension delaying our goals.
“The Ultimate Stop The Hop kit from Steeda provides everything you need for high horsepower cars to get out of the hole,” Cervenka explains. “Most notably, the IRS Subframe Support Braces triangulate the rear subframe to the body and the rest of the car. This helps get the power to the ground as quickly as possible.”
The kit provides more than just subframe support braces; it includes bearings in the rear subframe that control the power through the driveline, into the tires, and ultimately the pavement. It also has a bushing support system to help with deflection in the factory bushings without increasing noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). While the factory suspension has some camber adjustment, Steeda’s kit takes that to another level. The beauty of the Steeda IRS components is there are no permanent modifications. This means at any point, we can transform Magneto back to stock.
Under Cervenka’s guidance, we completed our kit with the additional subframe alignment kit. “On S550 Mustangs that are going to the drag strip, we like to run positive camber, especially with cars that are making 800 to 1,000 horsepower that are shocking the tires off the line. This is even true in automatic cars with a transmission brake,” Cervenka details. “The closer to 0 degrees of camber will get the maximum contact patch off the line.”
The Differential Between Winning And Losing
The differential in any vehicle makes noise, even bone stock they are noisy by nature, but to inhibit those noises from entering the cabin and creating a poor driving impression, most manufacturers insert bushings to cushion the noise in the cabin. This engineering is fantastic at achieving its target goal, but in a racing application, the bushings create deflection and lack the firmness needed.
“The factory bushings on the S550 Mustangs are sufficient at stock power levels. However, the more power you add through bolts-ons and forced induction, premature wear and even failure of these bushings can result. That’s where Steeda comes in,” Cervenka says. “The Steeda adjustable differential bushing insert system does that by adding strength, so the bushings don’t tear, rip, or have any additional issues getting down the track with higher power levels.”
Getting Sprung And Swayed
Project Magneto was finally coming together with an above-average focus on drag racing, but we needed to address the front and rear suspension, if we were going to be competitive. Once again the factory setup proved to be aimed toward comfort instead of cutting 60-foot times and we know how important weight transfer is in drag racing. For that reason, we made the decision to jump on Steeda’s front coilovers, rear shocks, and rear springs to help transition the weight transfer during each pass.
“The Steeda front coilovers are all about weight transfer, you’re trying to get the weight from the front of the car to the rear to get all the grip off the line,” Cervenka explains. “The lighter the spring rate the easier it is for that weight to shift.”
On the rear, we decided to utilize the Steeda Pro Action single-adjustable shocks. “The Adjustable Pro Actions were designed for Autocross and the Street, but given the fact the compression was so firm, we found it also works extremely well in Drag Racing,” Cervenka says. “An increase in compression will help drive the tire into the ground for traction and the adjustable rebound makes controlling the rate at which it comes back up easy.”
Although you won’t see Project Magneto dodging cones in the parking lot, we do have plans to drive with these on the street and they should improve our quarter-mile times at the same time. At the time of doing the rear shocks, we also went with a set of Steeda rear drag springs to complete the suspension package.
Our last item to address was the factory sway bars. Since Project Magneto is not a dedicated drag-race-only vehicle, we decided to leave the front sway bar on with future plans to remove it to see if we could feel a difference. We did however equip the rear with a Steeda drag race rear sway bar. This will keep body roll minimum, but will also make sure the car squats down squarely with the ground at takeoff.
Steeda Suspension Progresses The S550
While Project Magneto prepares for battle, we’re excited to know that we have equipped it with the right products to get the job done. We’ll continue to modify and change parts to maximize potential, but nothing should be taken away from what Ford created with the S550 platform. We’re excited to beef up the parts, put the power to the ground, and partake in some solid passes. Stay tuned as we’ll be addressing the driveline next!