SVO Suspension questions

ClayBelt

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So I started doing a little research with my down time into dealing with some of the sub par suspension components that my 1986 SVO currently has (like the Monroe? struts and shocks) while I wait out this quarantine, and now I’ve got some questions I hope you can answer.

A) I’ve got a set of SN95 control arms already waiting in the wings. Some people I saw were saying the front swaybar won’t be as effective with those. Should I consider snagging an aftermarket sway bar meant for an SN95?

B) While we’re on the subject of SN95 style parts, I saw somewhere that the red Konis at full hard and the SN95 Orange konis are about the same stiffness. Given the cost differential and this being a primarily handling vehicle for me, would I run into any issues with offset or otherwise by changing to the 87-93 spindles up front and running the Orange SN95 style Koni struts and shocks? I’ve currently got a set of 2008 Crown Vic steelies (17x7.5, et43) on the car with a 5mm spacer that barely clears the strut.

Thanks in advance for your answers.
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
Mod Dude
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Be suspicious of claims made without proof.
If the sway bar bolts to the same location from 86 to 94-5 lca there likely will be no difference in effectiveness, I have no personal experience swapping these parts and I am not familiar with the 86 svo.
Ok, after a little research I have come a the conclusion but I would like to ask a couple things first:
What are you doing with the car? Restoration or modification for? (race or cruiser)
Any modifications already done?
 

2000xp8

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It's a tough question, since any of the decisions could affect how wide the front track width is.
The older k member is a bit more narrow and the 95 arms are wider (I've heard as much as 1.3in)
I don't think your issue is SVO related, more like 86 and older (i think that's when the k changed), that could help with your research.

I could have sworn the sn95 sway bar mounted under the frame rails, not inboard like a foxbody sway bar does.
I wouldn't be screwing with that.

Why crown vic wheels and not the stock wheels? I always liked how svo's looked, but i felt the wheels were an integral part of the look.
 
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ClayBelt

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The SVO has a special K member, sway bar mounting location, and control arms the same length as the SN95 ones. The car is currently bone stock with the exception of those monroe struts and a dual core radiator (unrelated), but I intend to make it a decent daily/autocross machine. That’s actually one of the reasons I put those cheap, cheap vic steelies on was because I can’t get cheap performance tires (sub 300 tread) for a 16” wheel, but I can for a 17”. I’m used to a rougher ride from my previous two autocross/daily cars (a heavily modified Grand Marquis and a clapped Miata), so that’s not an issue and why I was considering the later Koni STR.T’s instead of the red Special D ones. I just want to make sure that I won’t end up cambered like a stance boi, start rubbing somewhere I wasn’t before, or otherwise run into issues.

Incidentally, I forgot until this morning that Koni makes the STR.T shocks for the 87-93 and the only reason I can’t use them rn is because the spindle is thicker. So forget about the SN95 portion of the shock question.
 

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Warhorse Racing

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As you probably know, the SVO has lots of unicorn parts. Most of the bigger vendors will note whether or not parts will fit on the SVO, but it's always a good idea to double check. My friend has an SVO and he has dealt with the difficulties of finding parts. I will ask him for some resources and pass them along to you.

Are you changing to the SVO A-arms because the ball joints on your SVO A-arms are bad? Or the bushings? The ball joints can be involved/expensive to change on the SVO (which is why people swap to the SN95 A-arms). If it's just the bushings, I would suggest using the Global West Del-A-Lum bushings designed for the SVO.

As for the stiffness of struts & shocks. For autocross, you generally want the car to be softer than you would think. The suspension needs to articulate. Too low and too stiff are the biggest errors people make when setting up an autocross Mustang.

As for the SN95 spindle swap, I will ask my friend about that. On an 87-93 car, the SN95 spindles will limit the amount of negative camber you can get out of the car, even with CC plates. My 1992 maxed out at -1.6 degrees on one side and -1.3 on the other, so I was only able to get -1.3 degrees (not as much as I'd like for an autocross car).

The good news is your SVO is a very good autocross car right out of the box. I even made a video about it being the perfect recipe for building an autocross car.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55Adqx1eiRs&t


The SVO is very well-balanced, and the OEM sway bars work well with one-another. Adding a larger front sway bar will add understeer, which isn't ideal. It's worth waiting to see if you need to increase the size of BOTH sway bars after you've made other mods and driven the car under autocross conditions.

My initial advice would be to solve the rear end grip issues first. Get some good upper and lower control arms with 3-piece bushings. I use the Steeda Aluminum Upper and Lower Control Arms with poly bushings on my Fox. Then focus on all the bushings on the car. This next video is not SVO specific, but I know GW makes Delrin A-arm and Steering Rack Bushings for the SVO and the J&M Spherical Upper Differential Housing Bushings should work with the 7.5 rear end.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXn_0QXo4vk&t


I would also focus on chassis bracing. Stiffler's FIT System is amazing for autocross. And a good 4-pt lower K-member brace will help too.

I'm assuming you plan on running in the CAM-T autocross class? I'm happy to answer any other questions you might have.
 

ClayBelt

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Ball joints are 100% shot. I figured since I was planning to be in the area anyways to replace the control arms, put some braided stainless brake hoses on, and deal with some surface rust under the radiator I might as well ask about the front sway bar, spindles, and shocks. Eventual plans include full length subframe connectors, improved rear control arms, and a panhard bar from a suspension perspective. I haven’t really given the class much thought though, I won’t lie there
 

ClayBelt

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Other thing I realized reading through that post a second time was that it looks like you’re assuming I’m putting SN95 spindles on my SVO for SN95 shocks. I was initially looking at SN95 shocks, but I wanted to use 87-93 spindles so I wouldn’t need to shave down the strut tab so I could have more strut options without having to buy yet another set of brake lines or calipers or something else. I forgot Koni made good shocks for the 87-93 cars, so remembering that those would be the route I’d go along with the 87-93 spindles on my 1986 car
 

Warhorse Racing

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Ball joints are 100% shot. I figured since I was planning to be in the area anyways to replace the control arms, put some braided stainless brake hoses on, and deal with some surface rust under the radiator I might as well ask about the front sway bar, spindles, and shocks. Eventual plans include full length subframe connectors, improved rear control arms, and a panhard bar from a suspension perspective. I haven’t really given the class much thought though, I won’t lie there

It's always a good idea to consider your class when deciding on mods. One mod, like welded-in subframe connectors will bump you into a higher class. The common mods we make to our cars usually make CAM-T the best fit. With just a few mods and the right setup, your car could do well in CAM-T.

I have never been a big fan of Panhard bars. Dial the car in without one first, you might be surprised at how well it can do.

The SN95 spindle/shock issue is interesting. Some places say you have to use SN95 struts with SN95 spindles on a Fox (non-SVO), and some places say you don't. I have used 87-93 Tokico Illuminas with 04 Cobra spindles on my Fox and I have had no issues (in terms of damaging the struts). My 87-93 Tokico struts fit on the SN95 spindles with no modifications. The same struts were on the car when it had 87-93 spindles.

Struts do come in different lengths, so that might be why some work and others don't.

So, just so I am clear when asking my friend for more info... You want to solve your A-arm issue (possibly with SN95 A-arms), use 87-93 GT spindles, and the SVO brakes, right? You are NOT looking to do an SN95 brake/5-lug conversion up front (using the SN95 A-arm, spindle, hub, rotor, caliper).

Is that correct?
 

ClayBelt

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That would be correct. The 87-93 spindles should open up my shock options a lot more potentially than just the Special D Konis, and allow me to retain my decent enough SVO factory brakes. The SN95 arms (meant for a 95 GT) should keep me from worrying about my ball joints seperating on a hard turn or somewhere else detrimental.
 

Warhorse Racing

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Here's what it says on the MM website...

"Stock SN95 front control arms can be installed on a 1984-86 SVO Mustang, along with a conventional spring in the stock location. SVO-specific springs cannot be used, as the relatively higher spring seat location of the SN95 control arm will raise the front of the car significantly; front springs (either stock or aftermarket) from a non-SVO application Mustang must be installed. Note that the 1999-2004 arms provide more tire clearance, allowing a tighter turning radius. The ball joint's pivot point will be raised by about 1/2", which will in turn lower the front roll center. The sway bar end-link mounting location on the stock control arm is further inboard, which will reduce the effective swaybar rate by about 8% (This will help reduce understeer)."

That suggests to me that you can use the SVO spindles/brakes/struts with the SN95 A-arms. It looks like you will need the MMFCAB-10 spindle adapter sleeves to make them work. I would double-check that with multiple sources, if possible.

Reducing understeer can be a good thing, especially since most of our cars came with factory-installed understeer. You can adjust for that with your shock settings, tire pressure settings and the mods you make to your rear suspension. This video explains the process:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HiS-t4_O_w&t


Keep in mind that stiffening up the front end with bracing, and using Delrin bushings, and slightly lower/stiffer springs will all ADD understeer, so it's possible that you can get the car neutral with those mods and strut/shock settings. The 8% reduction in understeer the SN95 A-arms provide shouldn't be an insurmountable issue.
 

ClayBelt

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I’ve got the adaptors, I’m just not a big fan of being limited to the 79-86 struts (which nobody makes performance versions of) or Koni Special D shocks (hence the 87-93 spindle question). I did not realize these had some understeer from factory, so I’ll sleep a little easier on the sway bar front.
 

Warhorse Racing

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I’ve got the adaptors, I’m just not a big fan of being limited to the 79-86 struts (which nobody makes performance versions of) or Koni Special D shocks (hence the 87-93 spindle question). I did not realize these had some understeer from factory, so I’ll sleep a little easier on the sway bar front.

LMR offers (not in stock right now), the Koni RED SVO-specific (adjustable) shocks. Are those the ones you are referring to as "Koni Special D shocks"? I just want to be sure.

Those aren't as easy to adjust as some others, but they work well on the car. My friend's SVO only has about 25k miles; he runs the stock Konis. They are in good shape and he was able to dial in his car.

Having built an IRS-swapped New Edge V6, I am no stranger to unicorn problems. There is always a solution. I'll do some more digging.

An SVO would have less understeer than a GT, but it still has some, and, if you stick with adjustable suspension components, you'll be okay. Pretty much every mod you make will impact understeer/oversteer; that's why these cars need adjustable suspension.
 

ClayBelt

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They are the ones I’m referring to. Since I can’t upgrade sway bars really it appears (turns out the SVO’s have a very specific mounting setup) shocks seem like the next best place, and for the money the reds cost I’d rather have the option for yellows (even if budget dictates STR.T's rn)
 
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Warhorse Racing

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They are the ones I’m referring to. Since I can’t upgrade sway bars really it appears (turns out the SVO’s have a very specific mounting setup) shocks seem like the next best place, and for the money the reds cost I’d rather have the option for yellows (even if budget dictates STR.T's rn)

My friend suggested trying this Facebook Group: SVO Mustang Owners/Fans Group

There are tons of people in that group who can help.

According to MM: "The stock 4-lug rotors of the 1987-93 V8 spindle can be easily swapped for 5-lug rotors. Other than the number of lugs, the 1987-93, 11" rotors and the SVO/Lincoln rotors are dimensionally identical in all significant aspects. Maximum Motorsports stocks the 5-lug rotors." And, "More high performance strut options are available for the 1987-93 V8 spindle than for the first generation spindle."

Multiple vendors sell SVO calipers as an upgrade to OEM Fox brakes. So, based on this research, we can be relatively certain that SVO calipers and rotors will work on Fox spindles. And the Koni Yellows for 87-93 V8s will work too.

The only question left is whether or not the SN95 ball joints will work in the Fox spindles. That's one thing I haven't tried. But, it could simply come down using a space, sleeve or washers to make sure the nut holding the spindle to the ball joint is in the correct location.
 

Warhorse Racing

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They are the ones I’m referring to. Since I can’t upgrade sway bars really it appears (turns out the SVO’s have a very specific mounting setup) shocks seem like the next best place, and for the money the reds cost I’d rather have the option for yellows (even if budget dictates STR.T's rn)

But, you should at least be able to use poly bushings in the front sway bar and the end links. That will help a bit. As for the rear, it looks like any SN95 rear sway bar will fit an SVO, so you will have options for the rear.

Might be worth asking the SVO Facebook Group about front sway bars; perhaps a sway bar from another Ford from that era will work.
 

ClayBelt

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Awesome! I didn’t realize that there was a Facebook group for them, I’ll give it a shot. Worst case is on those spindles I shave them slightly at the ball joint ig