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Looking for some advice/general info on an Autocross/Track build

Old 2/17/19, 08:27 PM
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Looking for some advice/general info on an Autocross/Track build

Whats up gents, new member here

I started racing autocross last year in a newer FWD car. After doing 1 season I've decided that it's time to get something that's more fun and can go sideways with the loud pedal. I've had everyone under the sun tell me that a Miata could be the better option but I've always wanted a V8 car and in my search for something "relatively" (We'll use that term lightly) affordable I've landed on building a mustang.

So for starters I want to try to keep this car streetable. It doesn't have to be comfortable on the street, just legal to drive if I decide to. The goal with some time is that the car will be gutted, caged, obviously have suspension work done, and hopefully reach around the 400hp mark as an NA.

Do you guys have any recommendation as far as a starting point? The 5.0 motors seem to be cheaper and easier to get power out of in a bolt on NA build from what I've been researching, as opposed to the 4.6L. However a lot of people are saying they are becoming outdated and parts/builds may actually be harder on a 5.0 Foxbody/SN95 than on the newer generations. Is the 5.0 still the way to go?

As far as chassis I was thinking an SN95 prior to switching to a 4.6L would be an okay option since it already comes with 5-lug hubs and disc brakes all the way around. Also do the the new edge models have a lot more part availability?

I found a mustang that runs with water damage to the interior at an auto restoration place near me. Everything seems find but this car is an 03 so it has the 4.6L and I don't want to pick the wrong starting point.

Do you guys who are a bit more knowledgeable on the motors/chassis than me have any advice on the smarter route?


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Old 2/18/19, 05:57 PM
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I have two Mustangs [ an '01 six cyl. 5 speed DD and a '14 GT manual ] and have autocrossed for five or six years now in a variety of cars, but not often or seriously enough to be really good at it, but I recently made some suspension modifications to the '14 and I plan to renew my SCCA membership and hit the track a little more often this year. I have to say that the Miata is a great choice for autocross. It's light,agile and it's small size is an advantage on tight autocross courses. The smaller the car the wider the corners. That said I still like my Mustangs. The SN 95 cars are generally lighter than the SN197 cars and being older and plentiful are fairly cheap, but the SN95 cars have a crappy rear suspension. You can live with it in stock [ now street ] class since you will be tire and wheel limited here. If you have serious mods in mind, the combination of higher horsepower and traction from real race tires and wider wheels will cause real problems with the 4 link rear suspension with it's angled upper control arms. The stock rubber bushings have a lot of necessary slop and give in them and if you replace them with stiffer bushings [ poly ] they will bind up. Mustangs generally have one thing going for them that I don't think any other car foreign or domestic can match, and that's aftermarket support both factory and from independent vendors. There's more support for Chevy engines, both old style small blocks and the newer LS series engines, but when it comes to the whole car nothing can match the support that the Mustang has. Just about any suspension mod [ or any other for that matter ] you can think of or wish for can be had for Mustangs. The only real limit is the size of your bank account. Now that the SN197 5.0 have been out for awhile now you may be able to find one at an affordable price. They have a pretty stiff chassis stock and the three link rear works pretty well. As far as the older pushrod 5.0 engine is concerned it will make all the power you are likely to need in autocross. Aluminum heads and intakes are easy to come by and will reduce the front end weight.. Autocross is much more about handling and brakes than it is about horsepower. The single most important modification or investment you can make is seat time and lessons from an experienced and accomplished driver. The next most important thing is tires and wheels. First make yourself a better driver and get some sticky tires, then you can figure out what class you want to compete in and make the necessary modifications. Good luck.
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Elemento1991 (2/18/19)
Old 2/18/19, 07:44 PM
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Thanks for the info. I've considered the Miata a few different ways but I think the only way I'll really be happy with it is if I were to turbo or V8 swap it. They are great for autocross but I have interest in doing some track days as well. The 4-link axle issue is definitely something I'll have to look into. I was planning on putting really wide racing tires on it for events and track days. I live kind of near the guy who owns Strano Performance Parts and Sam is also at some of the autocross events I run. Maybe I should get in touch with him and see what advice he has for me. I think he built his reputation on mustangs.

Also in regards to driving I have the double-edged sword of having a three time national champion in the GS class I typically have been racing. He's a good measure for me to have as to how well I am driving every event. I haven't beaten him but if I come close I figure I drove decently. The guy who helps coordinate a lot of the regional events is very friendly as well so I am fortunate enough to have some really good help when it comes to driving advice. I have a good bit of simulator experience and it seems to have carried over and helped me get started but there's definitely still work I have to do.
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