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Anyone autocross or race their 71-73 in SCCA type events?


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  1. I’ll give some backstory first and hopefully don’t become too long winded.I started off on the 71-73 cars at around my 15th birthday. My dads first car was a 71 coupe that he used daily until around 1990 and when the time came to start looking for a first car the decision was made to drag his old Mustang out of the lot it was sinking into. We drug it over to my uncles shop and after brakes and a tuneup I drove the car home. I continued to drive the car to school(probably not the most inconspicuous vehicle considering I hadn’t gotten a drivers license yet). Around the beginning of my senior year I was going out a little country road to meet up with a friend when a Chevy Astro came around a blind curve almost entirely on my side. I had to swerve off on the shoulder to avoid him. Unfortunately in the middle of the curve a gravel driveway meets up and the car got loose hitting the gravel. Normally it shouldn’t have been an issue and I was well versed at “spirited” driving, however my narrow little 14” tire on the front right rolled past its limit as the car drifted through the curve and popped the bead. After the bead broke it dug into the asphalt and i lost control of the drift. The car slammed head on into a bank on the opposite side and then flipped over onto the roof. The Chevy that caused this slowed to a near stop before flooring it and taking off. Thus the demise of my 71 happened. 


  • The thing I hated the most was I feel it was preventable. I barely made $80 a week at the time and it was mostly my dad funding the restoration. He was never a big car guy beyond “looking cool”. I was obsessed. From the beginning I wanted to upgrade to disc brakes and power steering, replace all the suspension/steering components and add some 16” torque thrusts. I wanted to put a cage in the car and apply some of the reinforcements and modifications from the SCCA cars. We only had a drag strip nearby but the TransAm racing Mustangs were what I focused alot of my love for. Unfortunately my dad was worried about cosmetics. The car had all the sheet metal work/paint/interior work done but still rode on 30 year old suspension with drums and narrow little tires. I climbed out of the car safe and sound and mechanically it could have driven home. But I think the dated underside and dated technology helped doom it. This all being said and after a 66, 69, and 70 Mustang I’m looking to find another project later this year. I’m at a point now that although not rich, if I want something done a certain way I will see it gets done without cutting corners. My wife likes classic cars and my son has just gotten old enough to fall into Mustang Fever. We’re planning on picking up a rolling project. I’m looking at possibly 71 Mach 1 or another 66 coupe. I have a lot of love for both. Something that is running or i can get running enough to go to local shows and cruise and restore as we go. In my case though, I also want to build a car with a goal to autocross and compete in some SCCA type events. I’m leaning toward a setup with 4 wheel power disc, quick ratio steering, upgrade suspension with watts link in the rear, 16-17” tires, cage, shocktower reinforcements, etc etc. I’m not sure what all options are out there yet for the big bodies but this is the goal. I want the car to handle and stop/steer first and foremost. Once that’s done I’ll start on engine/trans, etc.


  • Has anyone else gone this route or does anyone have a car they use compete in similar events? Are there any good info sources for setting up these cars like what exist for the 69-70 Boss cars?

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Your story sounds kind of similar to mine. I lost my first Mustang in an accident that was also preventable. The big culprit was the tires. Cheap tires. No grip. Especially in the rain.

I've never bought tires based on price since then. You can get surprisingly good tires for a lower price than you'd expect, but it takes a little research and knowledge. Spending a bunch doesn't guarantee good tires, either. Also, no matter how good the tire, they are done at 5years, sometimes sooner. The rubber ages and gets hard, so matter how much tread they have or how expensive when new, at 5 years chuck them. Especially if you drive 'spirited'. Or like to stop. Or it's raining. Etc.

 

There is a fair amount of info on making these cars handle better on the road and overkill is not always necessary. Mostly it's learning about weight transfer, how to control it and what it affects.

 

A good read is Carroll Smiths Tune To Win and Prepare To Win. Read his bio on the link too.

 

http://www.carrollsmith.com/books/index.html

 

Even though it's written for racers, it will explain a lot of the theory and practice of what you are trying to do. then again, you want to autocross, so even more reason to read it.

 

Stiffening the chassis with subframe connectors isn't a bad idea. If you want a cage or rollbar, there are many options, but I'd look at the SCCA requirements for a start.

 

There are a lot of parts available from Flaming River, OpenTracker, Global West, etc., but it can be hard to decide which stuff is right for what you want to do. Some of the suspension mods for earlier Mustangs are applicable, some maybe not (The Shelby lower control arm drop for one. Standard thing to do on 70 and earlier cars, but debatable on the 71 as the suspension has some alterations already). Mustang ll front suspension swaps need to be looked at real careful if that grabs your interest. The 71-73 was designed to carry the suspension load thru the shock tower and aprons and the Mustang ll puts the loads at the frame rails...might be fine for cruising, but racing?

 

Brakes...even the stock disc stuff can work really well if you at least upgrade the pads and rotors. For what you want to do normal Autozone quality replacement parts are not the answer. But you also don't necessarily need Wildwood race stuff. I've thought about swapping in the late 90's Explorer 8.8 rear axle. Even with narrowing it's a cheap way to get rear discs, limited slip, and 3.55/3.73 gears. Plus there may be off the shelf rear diff covers for the Watts link.

 

Having said all that, I'd start with a decent quality straight rebuild of the stock brakes and suspension with quality tires. that way, once you find a car you like, you can enjoy driving it in stock form to see what you really want to do.

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Check Total Control Products for options. They offer good coilover kits for the front.

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

20160929_171923_edit2_small.jpg

 

1971 M-Code Mach 1 w/Ram Air, 408 stroker, 285/291 0.558" roller cam, Blue Thunder intake, TKO600, Hooker headers with electric cut-offs, FiTech EFI w/ RobBMC PowerSurge pump

Strange center section with Truetrac, 3.5 gear and 31 spline axles, 4-wheel disc brakes

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Here is link to one of the SCCA sanctioned events here where I live. I think 11 mile run and the most curves of any road in U.S.. 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/dragonhillclimbers/

I wanted to build my 72 Q code vert into a track days car like run at Charlotte and Road Atlanta. To do any of these you do have to have full approved cage, racing harness in date, approved helmet, approved seat, fire system and some other items. 

I had looked at some of the sub frame connector and bar systems out there. You can go really crazy with the bars I think a minimum is 6 point but not sure. 

All of the current mfg. use very outdated materials in their products. Sort of like other areas for parts for our cars, people buy it so why change it.

My background was in automotive and agriculture and I worked extensively in using the latest UHSS, bake hard steel, dual phase etc. 

I was headed in the direction of doing my own components and use the much better steels that are available to gain a much stronger build with less weight. 

I worked directly with Swedish Steels in Sweden that was a leader in the development of the steels. In some cases are 4 times the yield strength of steels they use for frame connectors and bars. 

I even bought a hydraulic tube bender. There are no weld issues with the new materials like there are with 4140 which is high carbon so the welds tend to harden the tube and will eventually stress crack. You have to torch anneal each weld and that is a little more guessing than anything.

There is also a facebook page for track addicts.

I am on hold with my back needing surgery and breathing issues. 

I suggest you go to some of the events and observe and talk to competitors. I went to a couple at Charlotte and took a driving school at Charlotte. 

It is not cheap either. Nothing is today.

When a man is in the woods and talks and no women are there is he still wrong??:P

David

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In the '80's, sports car clubs where I lived would get permission to set up road courses in the back parking lots of malls. I had a TR-6 but one day brought my '72 Mach 1. It already had the front and rear sway bars, front disc brakes and 15" wheels with 60 series tires from the factory, and I had put front springs in that were a little stiffer and 1" lower and rear springs that were a little stiffer and 1/2" lower. With just that I could take a country road 25 mph corner at 70 mph. The Spitfires and MG's could out corner me a little bit, but I'd kill it in the straights. Unless you want to go for a full out race car, you don't need to spend a ton to have a lot of fun. The '71-'73's had a lot better steering and suspension than the earlier Mustangs.

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I have a pretty good idea what I want cage wise, my biggest obstacle will be keeping the back seat accessible. Likely use a removable cross bar behind the front seats that I can take out when hauling my kid and cruising. I’d like to tie into the rear frame rail by the taillight panel in the back and run down the a pillars up front with a lower bar below the dash through the firewall/torque box area and tying into the front frame rail. I’m hoping once I get the car itself I can find a good CAD model to use with solidworks or similar software to render out my cage ideas.

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I've done some autocross and can say it's a blast! My goal was/is to have a great road car with good handling and brakes as well as being able to get out of it's own way. Since I am kind of a low buck guy I've been working with the original components. The best bang for the bucks has been wheels/tires, BIG sway bars and decent high pressure gas shocks. I used the stock springs to maintain ride quality to a point and they will keep the tires planted better than over stiff replacements. A good alignment to specs more in line with modern tires is critical.

 

Read the Herb Adams book on suspension "Chassis Engineering", I think it's the best out there. He preaches stock springs and big sway bars which makes a ton of sense to me. I'll drive mine MUCH more on the street than on a track or autocross.

[align=left]Jeff T.

 

When I die I want to die like grandpa, peacefully in my sleep... not screaming, like his passengers. [/align]

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Welcome. When I got my 71’ back in the family it had been with it’s second owner for about 30 years and was in rough shape. I did the minimum required to get it driving again and took it for a spin. Less than 50 miles of driving was enough to convince me that I needed to tear it down and make it a “safe fun” build. It seems like every few years someone on the forum posts a pic of their 71-73 peeled open like a tin can from wrecking into a stationary object. It always seems like the mix is 400+ horsepower, high profile narrow (stock) tires, stock brakes and stock suspension.

 

Now- my car is in about a million pieces. It will be a couple years till it is back on the road- but when it is back it will be fun- and safe.

 

Opentracker Racing, Maier Racing, Mike Maier Inc, Total control Inc would all love to sell you parts. Have fun with your project.

 

 

C3-B9-C443-E4-AA-46-A6-B5-A0-7-F19887350-CD.jpg

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Track events are fun, autocrossing provides the thrill of speed and limit handling while minimizing the possibility of death and destruction.

 

By wanting to race an older chassis, you have made your task infinitely more difficult and expensive.

 

My $0.02 is start going to events now- be a pest and talk to guys who are doing it. Ideally you find somebody with a car somewhat close to a 71-73 and pick their brain on what they've done and would do differently if they could. Next, pick a class to run in that limits modifications to the car, I think there are now classes geared towards classics now? By starting out simple (i.e. no cage, minimal suspension and engine mods) you are minimizing the expense and better understanding what needs to be improved on the car to make it faster. As you gain ability you can make mods, change classes and compete against faster cars with higher-skilled drivers.

 

I have a few friends that have gotten into autocrossing, both started out thinking that they could have dual-use cars, but both now have dedicated track cars that are simply un-usable on the street due to the suspension mods needed to be competitive.

 

Good luck on your journey!

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I road raced my 72 R code for 10 years.  It was mostly stock, and was very fun.  It handled every bit as well as my current 70 Boss 302 trans am full up race car.  My lap times are almost identical.  You don’t need to do much to these cars.  The biggest limiting factor by far is the drivers ability. All the mods in the world won’t overcome a superior driver in a less modded car.

 

So. Here is a proven known formula.

 

Shelby lowering mod on the upper control arm. Some say our cars already have it done.  I don’t know.  I did the mod.  Works great.

Factory bone stock power steering.  Fill to just a bit above the tip.  If you over fill it, just wait.  It will blow out the extra.  Use the factory longer lines for more fluid. And the factory or aftermarket PS cooler.

Factory bone stock power front disks and rear drums.  Really.  No reason at all to spend money on brakes.  With excellent pads, I out braked Porsche’s.  No problem. I finally upgraded my 70 car when I ran out of brakes at CoTA.  This was on the last laps of the weekend and I was pushing the car to 7800 rpm on the back straight at over 150 mph.  I did use braided steel lines in place of all 3 rubber lines.  That’s it.  Got new rotors for free every year from Napa...life time gaurantee.

Factory staggered shocks.  MUST HAVE.

KYB gas adjust shocks.  Or, if you want to throw some money at the project, Viking double adjustable shocks.

Fays 2 watts link. MUST HAVE.

1 inch front sway bar.

Improved seat.  My left leg would be bruised from pushing up against the door panel.  Get a good race seat that fits you.

Tires.  You must use a sticky tire.  A tread wear of 180 or less.  More than 200 and you will just slide around. 

 

Roll bar/cage.  You really don’t need much.  Give up the back seat completely. There is no good compromise for a real bar AND a back seat.  Pick one.  Removable bars are a PITA, and are not legal in any class.  Use a good main hoop, welded to the support area under the plastic rear panel.  NOT to the floor plan.  Run support bars from the main hoop to the wheel wells.  You must have a diagonal bar on the main hoop.  Making the back seat useless.

 

Note - if you are determined to run a 351C, you will have oil control issues.  I know how to fix it.  It’s a long story.  It’s best just to run a hydraulic cam and keep the revs below 6000.  Road race pan, oil cooler, external oil line front to back.  Don’t over think the engine.  I blew up 13 engines.  Really.  You don’t have to.  I made plenty of scrap metal for you.  There is a reason I switched to a Boss 302 engine.

 

Seriously. The above info cost me about $80,000 to learn.  It’s yours for free.

 

Auto cross - not my thing. But all you need is a good set of shocks and low tread wear rating tires.  If you mod the car, you end up in the pro classes real quick. The courses are generally made for 4 cylinder foreign cars.  mustangs spend a lot of time wiping out cones.  Go watch. You will see.

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Link to my 72 Q code: pics added 2/16/19

https://www.supermotors.net/registry/28719/88030-2

 

Link to my now sold 72 H.O

https://www.supermotors.net/registry/5858

 

My 70 Boss racecar

https://www.supermotors.net/registry/6520

 

 

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Thanks for the input Danoh. Engine wise I have a 331 short block that will probably get stuffed in whatever I find. I might look into a 393/408 Windsor later on.

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Springs started off stock. After a while, I changed to some track springs for front and rear. Those same springs are now on the 70 car. They started off at 750 front. 180 rear...I think. Unsure now. It’s been 20 years since I bought them. Fronts have been trimmed several times and are now 900 ish.

 

Gentle reminder. Don’t spend money on engines. Spend money on driving schools and coaching. A simple, low compression engine that will run on pump gas is 95 percent of the fun of a high compression screamer. It’s certainly more fun than the monster engine when the monster is broke. And it much much cheaper to run. Race gas is about 8-10 dollars a gallon. I use 40-50 gallons a weekend.

 

A stroker 331 with Cleveland 4V heads is a great combo. No oiling problems after some simple mods. Flat top piston, pump gas, roller cam. Have a blast.

Link to my 72 Q code: pics added 2/16/19

https://www.supermotors.net/registry/28719/88030-2

 

Link to my now sold 72 H.O

https://www.supermotors.net/registry/5858

 

My 70 Boss racecar

https://www.supermotors.net/registry/6520

 

 

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