Upgrade suspension, handling, and braking. 87 Mustang GT convertible.

Apache9

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Feb 8, 2021
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I have a 1987 Mustang GT convertible. I want to upgrade the suspension, handling, and braking for this car. I want to make the car handle better for a cruiser type application. This is the first step in a resto-mod process. Being retired and fixed income, I want the most cost-effective fix. However, I do not want to cheapen the process if that makes sense. I am looking for your advice. Thank you in advance.
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
Mod Dude
Aug 25, 2016
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LILCBRA

I wish I didn't have all of these balls in the air
15 Year Member
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Welcome to Stangnet!

You and I sound like we're more or less in the same boat! I also have an 87 GT vert that I'm looking to make handle, brake, etc. First step that I think most anyone will tell you is you'll need subframe connectors. Those are almost a necessity for a vert and aren't really all that expensive. Doing some research here on Stangnet as well as web searches can yield you a pretty decent brake setup using mostly off the shelf parts from later model Mustangs, but you'll most likely need to change the bolt pattern from the Fox 4 lug to the SN95 5 lug necessitating new wheels. I think I'd consider that the budget approach to something I think it sounds like you're after. Getting into the territory for more/better handling will run the bill up. In my case, I think once I've done what I've described here, I'm going to splurge on a Maximum Motorsports torque arm/panhard bar combo, Stifflers "FIT" system, etc. So the sky is the limit, I guess it depends on what you're after and what you're willing to spend. :)
 
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Warhorse Racing

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Feb 10, 2019
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It's always good to decide on how far you intend to go with your build before you start buying/making mods. There's a big difference between a street cruiser and a full-on resto-mod. But, there are certain basic mods that solve the "factory-installed" flaws inherent in 79-04 Mustangs.

Every input goes through the chassis. Stiffening up your chassis (especially a convertible) will allow you to get the most out of every other performance mod you make. Subframe connectors, strut, shock, and K-member braces will all help. I'm also a fan of the Stifflers "FIT" System; it can be installed in stages if you don't want to do it all at once. But, the more bracing you put into the car, the more you are going to feel every bump in the road.

Bushings are important, too. Your car is 34 years old, and so are your rubber bushings. Depending on your ultimate performance goal, new rubber bushings, poly bushings, or even Delrin bushings will help improve the handling. I would suggest going with forward offset A-arm bushings; they make a big difference.

Adjustable shocks and struts are key to making these cars handle well. They allow you to compensate for the other suspension mods you make.

Along with the adjustable shocks and struts, a larger rear sway bar (25mm) will help you get the car neutral. All of these cars come with factory-installed understeer; getting them neutral makes a big difference.

The biggest mistakes to avoid are lowering the car too much, and installing stiff, non-adjustable shocks and struts.

You have a lot of options for brakes. I've used OEM 99-04 Cobra brakes on my 1992 GT autocross car for years and they work really well (with the right pads).

I cover many of these mods, and offer up suspension tuning tips, on my YouTube channel. If you check out my "ThoroughbRED" playlist, you'll see all the mods I've made to my 1992 GT to get it to handle better. If you have any questions, please ask here or in the comments on YouTube.

Here's a link...

 
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Mustang5L5

i'm familiar with penetration
Mod Dude
Feb 18, 2001
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Keep it simple really.

Subframe Connectors
Quality shocks/struts (I recommend Bilstien)
Good lowering springs (I like H&R)

And piece together a SN95 brake conversion. Either Cobra, or even the 99-04 Gt/V6 setup which is a little more budget friendly.

That's about as far as I would go for a nice cruiser.
 
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mikestang63

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Aug 27, 2012
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Agree with Mike. remember its a tradeoff between soft cushy ride with OEM type replacement parts and harsher, firmer ride. No matter what , full length subframes are a must- i am partial to Maximum Motorsports suspension parts. I like Steeda or H&R springs as well For shocks , I've used Tokico Blues on many cars.
 
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Warhorse Racing

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Feb 10, 2019
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I used the Tokico HP (blue) shocks and struts on my 2000 GT years ago. I quickly realized they weren't the best option. They are very stiff. Much stiffer than stock. I would say they compare to a 4 out of 5 stiffness relative to the Tokico Illuminas I use on my Fox. I have my Tokicos set at 2 front and rear on my 1992 GT. 1 is the softest setting. I would never set the shocks or struts to 4 on my Fox; it would be undriveable on course.

I did a quick search and it appears that, like the Illuminas, the HP (blue) shocks and struts have been discontinued. You might be able to find some on Ebay, but I wouldn't recommend using them.

The Bilstein B6 kit on LMR costs $700, you can get the Koni Yellow Single Adjustable kit for $716. www.alteredfox.com carries the Koni Yellow kit for less than the Bilsteins on LMR.

If you plan on making more mods in the future, you will want to have some measure of adjustability in the car.
 

Gs87GT

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Sep 25, 2019
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Another vote for the maximum motorsports full length subframe connectors. This is one area you don't want to go cheap on.

I ordered a different brand initially and returned them because the wall thickness of the connector was thinner and once they are welded in place, they are on. I also have an 87 GT convertible and the MM subframe connectors made a big difference in chassis stiffness compared to stock without them. Good luck
 

Boostedpimp

15 Year Member
May 8, 2003
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I know it isn't exciting but you really should go with a quality subframe connector like Maximum Motorsports or Steeda. That in itself will do wonders for the feeling of that convertable thru the corners and just driving straight line. It'll feel like a different car and will save you from having leaks etc from chassis twist.
 

nickyb

WAIT,you now have a pair?
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All excellent advice so far, I'll add replacing front lower control arm bushings ( I used poly ones) rear upper and lower control arms and rear end bushings as well. Good luck and post pics of that vert please.