Okay, Mr. Angry Online Blogger, this one's for you. For years, we've listened to you and your grumpy followers bellyache about the weight of today's cars, how old cars are better, and that you can't afford all the new good stuff. You say, "Why can't they make cars lighter, and why isn't the new Mustang GT $12,500? Why do they have to carry around so much emissions stuff, computers, and safety devices?"
The way you slide your anti-theft club over the nutmeg brown steering wheel on your K-car just screams swagger, as you clearly love showcasing your understanding of technology.
But enough cheese with that whine. We all understand how much cleaner, safer, and more comfortable a modern Mustang is than anything built before it. We'll gladly lug a few hundred pounds of weight for the technology that gives us a 26-mpg coupe with 420 horsepower, stability control, and cushy airbags. But, we're always open to sensible weight savings.
In the old 5.0 LX days, it was nothing for owners to rip out the sway bars and A/C in the name of quicker acceleration. It's not so likely that a new GT or GT500 will owner will do the same. Rather than gut your new car, there are more creative ways to reduce weight, and we've found the perfect solution with help from a reputable Mustang expert.
Steeda To The Rescue
Based in Pompano Beach, Florida, Steeda Autosports offers a way for us Mustang maniacs to smartly shed weight and increase performance. After spending countless hours developing it, Steeda's American-made weight-reduction pack for manual-trans 5.0 cars (PN 555-3960, MSRP $1,179.95) includes billet-aluminum lower rear control arms, a tubular-steel front radiator support, and an aluminum driveshaft conversion kit. The latter takes a lot of the rotating mass out of the driveline, offering the biggest gains in mechanical efficiency as well.
To add some sound and shed even more weight, we also opted for Steeda's axle-back muffler kit (PN 515-Steeda-11, MSRP $599.95). These polished stainless steel beauties take weight from the rearmost part of the car, which reduces polar inertia. The further the weight is from the car's center, the more of an affect it has on handling. So, removing weight from the nose or tail has greater benefits. Letting that 5.0 rev to 7,000 also sounds fantastic without any of the dreaded part-throttle highway drone.
Time To Wrench
To kick things off, we jacked the car up, put it on stands, and started with the rear lower control arms. First, we removed the parking brake cables from the brake calipers. This is best done with a pair of pliers to slide the retaining clip off of the caliper bracket, and then unhook the cable end of the actuator arm on the backside of the caliper. Next we placed a jack under the axle housing, to take some weight off of the control arm bolts, and used a 1⁄2-inch-drive/18mm socket and ratchet to loosen and remove the two bolts on each arm. The nuts are held in place with retainers, so there's no need to use a wrench to hold them while loosening the bolts. Then simply slide the new control arms into place (they are already lubricated from Steeda) and reuse the factory hardware.
Lastly, route the parking brake cable under the control arm, and reconnect the cable end to the brake caliper. Repeat for the other side. Total weight saving here was 4.4 pounds for both arms.
We then moved onto the driveshaft. The factory unit is a two-piece job with a center bearing holding up the middle. We found the best way to remove the assembly without dropping the exhaust is to first remove the rear half. Simply undo the 12 bolts at the rear and center flanges with a 10mm socket, and then slide it out and backwards. After that, remove the front driveshaft by removing the two nuts holding the center support bearing with a 13mm socket, and then the front driveshaft from the transmission's output flange with a 12mm, 12-point socket. This is a bit more complicated as these bolts are often very tight and will require a good impact gun and universal joint connected to the aforementioned 12mm socket.