Why The Ford Mustang Doesn't Have An Independent Rear Suspension

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Near Enough is Not Good Enough

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    Posted June 18 2009 11:43 AM by Angus MacKenzie

    I've just had a few days in the new Shelby GT500. It's a pretty impressive piece -- fast, loud, and blessed with the best steering ever in an American car. It has its faults, though. The brakes don't feel man enough, the ride is borderline harsh, and the rock-hard Goodyear Eagle F1 tires leave it scrabbling for grip.

    But the thing that annoys me most about the GT500 -- about the whole 2010 Mustang range, for that matter -- is the live rear axle. It's the wrong technology, done for the wrong reasons; emblematic of the cynical "near enough is good enough" attitude from Motown management that helped drive Detroit's automakers into a ditch.

    At the launch of the S197 Mustang in late 2004, Ford countered criticism of the live rear axle -- a setup last considered state of the art by the rest of the world's automakers back in the 1970s -- by claiming an independent rear end would have added thousands of dollars to the cost of the car. That would have been correct had the S197 Mustang shared elements of the heavy and expensive DEW98 platform, which underpinned the Lincoln LS, Ford Thunderbird, and Jaguar S-Type. But it's not quite the whole story.

    S197 was in fact originally planned to share a lighter, simpler, less expensive independent rear suspension with the Australian-designed BA-series Falcon sedan, which launched in 2002. In fact, the rear half of the S197 platform was to be common between the two cars, with the Falcon eventually picking up the Mustang's front structure when Ford Australia could afford to replace the Falcon's ancient 4.0-liter straight six with the 3.5-liter Duratec V-6.

    The programs diverged because of the Falcon's need for three passenger rear seating, and the Mustang team's insistence on a subframe-mounted rear suspension, which improved isolation but compromised the rear passenger package. With the Falcon due to hit the market two years ahead of the Mustang, the Ford Australia engineers cut to the chase and developed their own independent rear end without a subframe. The Mustang team eventually gave up on a subframe, mainly for cost reasons, and developed a similar, light and low cost independent rear end of their own.

    Late in the S197 program, however, product development executive Phil Martens reportedly managed to convince Bill Ford Jr. he could save Ford $100 a car if the Mustang was switched to a live rear axle. The S197 platform was hurriedly torn up and reworked to accommodate the old-tech suspension. Martens was named Ford's group vice-president, product creation, North America, in October, 2003.

    Mustang chief engineer Hau Thai-Tang did a great job with the hand he'd been dealt, and the detail tweaks to the chassis for the 2010 model give the Mustang remarkable poise... for a live rear axle car. And there's the rub: Good as it is, the 2010 Mustang could have been better.

    There are a lot of good reasons why the rest of the world's automakers stopped using the Mustang's rear suspension layout decades ago. No matter how well set up, a live rear axle will never deliver the refinement, ride quality, and all-round traction of a well set up independent rear end. Yeah, yeah, I know drag racers like live rear axles, but let's be honest, how many S197s actually spend their weekends pounding quarter miles? I'd be astonished if it's more than a tiny fraction of the total number of Mustangs sold.

    Now here's the punchline: My well-placed sources say that once the noise, vibration and harshness, and driveline angle issues were solved, the S197's live rear axle actually ended up costing Ford $98 per unit MORE than the low cost independent rear end originally developed for the car.

    Go figure.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Boomdart

    Boomdart New Member

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    I'd definably like to see IRS in mustangs.

    Hell, they had IRS in rwd thunderbirds after '89 even the v6 models.
     
  3. Gonrad

    Gonrad OT Supporter

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    They had IRS in teh cobra in the mid-90s....the fuck can't they just put one in already

    :ugh:

    Livin in the past, welcome to FORD
     
  4. turbo35

    turbo35 haters gonna hate

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    new edge cobras had it too, 01-03 or whatever
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Reportedly grafted onto that car from the Lincoln LS/Ford Thunderbird and not specifically designed for it.
     
  6. turbo35

    turbo35 haters gonna hate

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    either way, handled a metric fuckton better than the solid axle shit

    almost traded a guy (+ cash of course) for the solid axle out of my GT because he was turning his Cobra into a drag car :dunno:
     
  7. insomnia

    insomnia New Member

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    i wonder how sturdy it would have been, and if people would have been swapping it out like on 03/04 cobras... then again, most mustangs probably will never make anywhere near that power :o
     
  8. midnite

    midnite OT Supporter

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    because the IRS in those cars was trash.

    Interesting article. The solid axle has proven that it can handle and ride decent enough for 99% of people to never notice a difference. However I would have liked IRS to at least be an option.
     
  9. Gerbonium

    Gerbonium OT Supporter

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    one of many reasons why 2010 Camaro>mustang
     
  10. Kyoso

    Kyoso New Member

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    Still pieces of shit.
     
  11. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    Ford >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> GM >>>>> Dodge

    As it is and ever shall be, Amen
     
  12. midnite

    midnite OT Supporter

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    have you missed the reviews where the mustangs solid axle has more grip and better manners than the irs in the camaro?
     
  13. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    2011 Mustang >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Camero
     
  14. Formula-95

    Formula-95 2:32 PM 5-13-09 Never Forget, Hamburglar OT Supporter

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    is it just me, or if one of the shock tubes break and you hit a big enough bump the spring can just pop right out?
     
  15. Jim311

    Jim311 New Member

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    Shit's easy to work on at least :o
     
  16. midnite

    midnite OT Supporter

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    a solid axle with a torque arm and panhard bar outhandles the cobra IRS unless you put about $800 of bushings into it.
     
  17. Formula-95

    Formula-95 2:32 PM 5-13-09 Never Forget, Hamburglar OT Supporter

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    :rofl:
    :gtfo:
     
  18. turbo35

    turbo35 haters gonna hate

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    wait, a modified suspension beats a stock one?

    no wai!
     
  19. midnite

    midnite OT Supporter

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    the point was, it typically isnt worth it to swap to an irs.
     
  20. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    the best part about that entire blurb is that the faggot author doesn't say why the live axle isn't good enough except that he's a faggot car rag editor and he's whiny that ford doesn't listen to him.

    Same story from these faggots year after year. Wah wah wah wah no IRS. Sure the Mustang handles great, has fine road manners, and is the best driving car in its class, but it doesn't have IRS which we say it needs so we're going to pout :wtc:
     
  21. nosaj

    nosaj OT Supporter

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    Wirelessly posted via wap.offtopic.com (Mozilla/4.1 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; ) 400x240 LGE VX10000)

    it was garbage, road racers were swaping out the IRS in favor of live axles.
     
  22. PHXDEMON

    PHXDEMON Taints N Beans OT Supporter

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    My 94 TBird had IRS and it actually handled pretty good with wide tires and frimer suspension :cool:
     
  23. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    My mustang handles ALMOST as well as my old F-150 :bowdown:

    not quite though :squint:
     
  24. Seeker

    Seeker Brofessional OT Supporter

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    When I found out about that, I was left thinking 'WTF, Ford??'

    They say the IRS will add weight and cost. Fine, stick with the live-axle. That's no excuse for shortcomings in handling, though.

    You can tune the live-axle and make the car handle better, to the point that it outperforms an IRS-equipped car. Tuners do it all the time. Why can't Ford?? :ugh:
     
  25. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Having driven a couple of 2010 GTs they drive eerily similar to my 1987 Grand National. The manners of IRS cars like LX Chryslers and Holden-sourced Pontiacs is better.

    It's pretty frustrating Ford would go through all the trouble to engineer a clean IRS for this car and then ditch it to save a buck only to have the truck axle cost them more.
     

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