Strange Engineering helps your Mustang dig in on the street and strip with adjustable shocks and struts
By Michael Galimi
Drag racing is still the undisputed king of enthusiast motorsports as virtually everyone has access to a drag strip thanks to, unofficially, more than 800 quarter-mile and eighth-mile drag strips on the planet. And one of the most popular drag race cars week in and week out at most drag strips are the modern-era Mustangs. The modern Mustang has been described as beginning in 1979 with the Fox-body chassis and continues through today, which spans four uni-body chassis platforms—including the S550 that the 2015 Mustang is built on. Each generation of modern Mustang has seen its fair share of fun on the streets and strips around the world and there is even a dedicated Mustang drag racing series in the United States with countless Mustang enthusiast days at many facilities.
Strange Engineering offers bolt-in specific adjustable shocks and struts for most Mustang generations but we are going to focus on the 1979-1993, 1994-2004, and the 2005-2014 models. Adding adjustable shocks and struts will help your Mustang perform better on the drag strip by allowing the rear tires to dig-in, hook up, and help deliver one heck of a fun ride. Strange Engineering offers single-adjustable shocks and struts for those aforementioned Mustang platforms, which are both affordable and easy to install, as the products are direct-fit/replacement style dampers. The Fox-body Mustang enjoys one part number for rear shocks as S6000EM is designed for all 1979-1993 Mustang (and Fox-body based Mercury Capri models). The 1994 through 2004 model Mustang call for S6004LM rear shocks while the S197 chassis utilizes S6008LM shocks.
Moving to the front, S6001EM fits only 1987-1993 5.0 Mustang models due to the spindle thickness. Those enthusiasts with a Mustang built from 1979-1986 or a 4-cylinder model in the 1987-1993 generation will need to convert to the 1987-1993 V-8 spindles. The younger generation Mustangs that fall between 1994 and 2004 model years call for the 6005LM struts. And finally the S197 offerings from Strange Engineering are split between two part numbers. Vehicles in the 2005-2010 production will run the S6009LM while the 2011 to 2014 Mustang fall under part number S6011LM. Typically, rear shocks retail between $75 and $100 per shock depending on the year of the vehicle. Front struts run a higher cost with the range moving to $120-$150 per strut, once again depending on the application.
Strange Engineering single adjustable shocks and struts, oftentimes, refer to the adjustable extension. Many other manufacturers don’t offer just an extension adjustment but rather their single adjustment will alter both the extension and compression equally. The adjustment knob on Strange Engineering shocks and struts are conveniently located on the bottom of most dampers. It makes it easier for the user to quickly adjust the shock or strut for changing track conditions or prepare the car for street use after a fun day on the drag strip.
There are several benefits in controlling the extension of shocks and struts during drag racing. Starting on the backside, as the tires are forced down towards the pavement, the rear-end is held in place by the four control arms, and the Mustang body starts to separate away from the rear-end as those control arms push and pull on the chassis. The shock is controlling how quick and how much the body separates from the rear-end.
“You want to run the extension as tight as possible without spinning the tires,” said JC Cascio of Strange Engineering. If the tires spin right at the launch, either when you let go of the transbrake button or release the clutch, then that is most likely a rear shock that is too stiff. A softer (or looser) extension setting will result in better traction while stiffening the rear shock will hit the tire harder and often times causing it to spin. Strange Engineering single adjustable shocks most often are equipped with 10 settings (certain models feature 11), which are often referred to as “clicks.” The first setting is when the adjustment knob is turned full counter clockwise. A general starting point for most applications is five clicks from position one (loosest setting) and Cascio recommends adjusting the shock in one or two click increments. Each adjustment will make a noticeable difference, which is why they recommend taking smaller steps to dial-in your Mustang. Street-bound Mustangs usually have great success with four or five clicks from the full counter clockwise starting point.
Moving to the front of the vehicle, the adjustable shock will increase front-end travel to help thrust the nose of the Mustang in the air, putting weight on the back tires for better traction. It is hard to resist setting the struts to full loose for maximum transfer but ideally, a car is quickest when the front-end lifts up just enough to help traction. Any higher and it is wasted energy or the car will hit the tire too hard and cause it to spin. A recommended starting point on the struts is to set the knob at two or three clicks from full soft. Position one is found by turning the knob counter-clockwise until it stops. The key is to get the front end to transfer just enough to plant the tire and nothing more. Every vehicle is different, some cars work better with a very loose front-end strut setting and tight rear shock setup while other combinations work great with very little front-end travel.
Street performance and drag strip excellence can be had with your Mustang thanks to the adjustable shocks and struts. It will allow enthusiasts to apply all of the horsepower under the hood to the rear tires while making the vehicle easier to drive on the drag strip and then a quick turn of some knobs and your Mustang is ready for the drive home. And if you need something a little more versatile, Strange Engineering offers aluminum body dampers and shocks and struts that are double adjustable for the ultimate in traction and performance.
Part Numbers at a Glance
S6001 Coil-over spring kit that fits all Strange Engineering struts for 1987 through 2004 Mustangs.
S6000EM 1979-1993 Mustang rear shocks, single adjustable
S6001EM 1987-1993 Mustang front struts, single adjustable
S6004LM 1994-2004 Mustang rear shocks, single adjustable
S6005LM 1994-2004 Mustang front struts, single adjustable
S6008LM 2005-2014 Mustang rear shocks, single adjustable
S6009LM 2005-2010 Mustang front struts, single adjustable
S6011LM 2011-2014 Mustang front struts, single adjustable