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  1. #1

    Default Subframe connectors for daily driver?

    Looking for specific advice on my 1986 GT hatch, which is a daily driver.

    The car is almost completely stock set-up (with exception of CAI, throttle body, and an after-market hose wizard AC conversion).
    It was also lowered an inch or maybe an inch and a half several years ago (saleen springs). I have owned the car since it was new in 86.

    Everyone always says the first thing to do to a fox body is weld on subframe connectors. Well, I never have done that.

    Lately, I have been choosing things ( such as shocks/struts, bushing replacements, clutch, etc. ) with drive-ability in mind. I like the sporty-feel when I drive but it's not like I am ever racing this car at this point. I am just enjoying driving it on a very regular basis.

    So, with that said... should I put subframe connectors on it or not?

    Will it improve the ride ( less rattles, vibrations, bone-jarring going over holes or speedbumps) or make it worse?
    Again, at this point I am choosing things that will make the daily ride enjoyable.

    Is it better for the longevity of the car itself to get the subframe connectors installed? I mean, will it reduce the chances of some break-down or failure in the unibody down the road?

    I bought some full-length subframe connectors a few years ago but I have never had them installed because the ride is pretty good as-is. If it will improve it more, I'll do it. Just not sure what to expect from that standpoint.


    PS: pics of car are here if you are interested...

  2. #2


    Of course its worth it. I installed maximum motorsports full length subframe connectors onto my really worn 88 hatch gt and it made a pretty big difference. My car was really abused to the max and it resulted in torn floor pans (where the rear bolts of both my seats are held on from) and the common A pillar and B pillar cracking from the amount of flex. My car is an auto but from what ive read, its worse on a manual car because of the clutch dropping on hard launches.

    As far as the effect on how it drives and feels, it made it better. I will admit my car does ride harsh for having stock suspension, but it feels so much more firm going over bumps. It was pretty dramatic how much of a difference that part made. My car feels much more solid. And since my floor board was all bent and torn, it helped straighten it out and lifted my seat to the original height from factory. Meaning, I had to readjust my seat when i sat in it because i was now sitting higher.

    Dont hesitate in installing them. Its worth it. I just bought another set for my 84 hatch that I just bought.

  3. #3
    FEP User
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    south-central WY


    I don't think there is any question that connectors are better both for handling and longevity. The stiffer the chassis, the better the suspension components can function as designed, instead of having a large, undamped spring between front and rear subframes.

    Edited to add: Naturally, neither of mine have connectors. My excuse: they're not running either. The cobbler's children are always barefoot.
    Last edited by darkd0r; 05-29-2018 at 03:16 AM.

  4. #4


    Do connectors as early in the cars life as possible. The longer you let it go the more flex is present regardless of how solid of a job you do putting in connectors or how good the connectors you use are.

    Take it from someone who made the mistake of more or less trashing a 1986GT within inches of being unrepairable. I took it to a body shop that's known for their ability to cut foxbody cars in half (quite literally) and they were able to save it but there are so many others that would have been in over their heads on the job.

    Even that shop told me if it twists again few options remain other than caging it or junking it.

    So what I did to it was run it for a few years bracket racing it. First with very sticky tires and for just one night years later when there was a grudge to settle some straight-up slicks and a hidden dose of spray on the car. That proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

    It had the motor tensioned down on the drivers side with a chain and turnbuckle. And crap mounts on the transmission and the passenger side which didn't help I might add.

    Well -- play stupid games win stupid prizes. My prize was an beautifully painted 200K mile four eyed fox with a 1 7/8" twist in it. Step on the gas car wanders right. Hit the brakes, car wanders left. To a point it was a hazard to myself and others. It didn't get better after I got it home from my outing with spray, that's for sure. I did win but the car was really pretty much un-drivable and I limped it along that way for the better part 3 months waiting to get it in to get fixed.

    My car was a lot closer to stock than you might think would be needed to trash a unibody. The truth is consider it stock as there's variation in body strength.

    It had a mild SD friendly cam and some extrude honing and port work done on the intake. The headers were stock and improvements were made old-school. The classic hog out the exhaust flange and the pinch welds inside then burn in the leaks from the outside and smooth out. A trained eye might notice -- maybe. Intake silencer removed, VM1 SD ECU, and timing set on full kill. Premium fuel was a must and a 3 core radiator was required to keep it cool on the street. The heads were still E6's. Someone forgot to tell my car you can't make power with those because it ran 13.40's consistently on street tires like this. Its best trap speed ever was on a pass where it was traction limited at the start and another where it was in outstanding air. The best pass was 13.26. Both were at 114.

    Compare this to the car and driver passes in new stock 86's where they clicked off 13.86's. I'm sure the pros getting those numbers were a better driver than me, but those who have rode with me can attest that I do pretty well. Low to very low 14's is what a lot of 86's with a 5-speed would post up when driven in anger right off the lot so my car wasn't that much different than stock.

    On slicks and spray, it was probably a mid to high 12 second car but it was only in that particular borrowed parts configuration for one night to settle something.

    Today with the intake and throttle body and other improvements its probably close to where it has been before via power adder. So far it has held up in spite of being quite rusty.

    But for pity's sake weld in the connectors. Get the best ones you (can't) afford. Hire an old iron worker to do it or take it to a shop if you must but burn them in right. Today is a good day to do it!
    Last edited by erratic50; 05-29-2018 at 02:40 PM.

  5. #5
    FEP Super Member gr79's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    SE Michigan

    Default Absolutely recommend more chassis reinforcement.

    Nice soft ride? In a unibody, that's mostly chassis flex.
    Chassis are a hugely important part of any vehicle.

    My non race dd will be 40 in October. Rust has weakened or destroyed some metal.
    Main reasons for mods is prolonging overall chassis integrity and minimize or stop metal fatigue.
    I have parked on unlevel surfaces where the chassis was tweaked just enough to affect the door.
    Mods made the car a more solid platform again. You can feel it.
    Especially over speed bumps, bad roads, freeway driving, corner handling. Car feels wider.
    No squeaks, rattles, fatigue cracks. Doors open/close correctly, even when jacking car.

    Did the mods early 2000's. Ride not stiff or harsh but firm. Always was.
    Depends on suspension setup. No issues with ground clearance (is stock height).
    Have used sub frame connectors, near the ends, as additional jack points.

    Ford Racing M-5478-B sub frame connectors.
    Ford Racing M-5480 Cross Brace sub frame connectors (seat support cross brace kit).
    Ford Motorsport M 20201-A50 Strut tower brace kit.
    Ford Motorsport M-5024-A Chassis Stiffening Kit (factory installed on convertibles).
    Reinforced parts of floor pan with 14g galv metal plates and 1/4" rivets.
    Have rear lower control arm torque box brackets/plates ready to install.
    Wish to add Z rail rocker reinforcements like convertibles had or similar.
    Also beef up the back seat floor pan area. Angle iron, metal plates.
    Last edited by gr79; 05-29-2018 at 02:39 PM.

  6. #6
    FEP Member brianj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Raymond, New Hampshire
    Blog Entries


    Subframe connectors will help dramatically extend the life of the car, and prevent damage to the chassis that will occur just with normal everyday driving. This damage will occur whether you have a 4cyl or a 600HP v8- although it will happen much faster at higher power levels. Most foxes suffer from cracked floor pans based on useage more than power. Additionally, if the chassis is flexing, the suspension is not able to do it's job correctly - the chassis is moving instead of the suspension. Last but not least, and this is just an opinion, safety wise, I think the subframes will help tremendously in case of an accident to keep the passenger compartment integrity. I've seen foxes tear apart at the firewall seam, and the seam behind the seats. As these cars get older, these failure pints will get worse, not better. Subframes will tie the whole car together.
    1983 Mustang G.T. No-option stripper- I like strippers.
    5.0, GT40P heads, Comp Cams XE270HR-12 on 1.6 rockers, TFI spring kit, Weiand 174 blower, Holley 750 mechanical secondarys, Mishimoto radiator, Edelbrock street performer mechanical pump, BBK shortys, T-5 conversion, 8.8 rear, 3.73 gears, carbon fiber clutches, SS Machine lowers, Maximum Motorsport XL subframes, "B" springs.

  7. #7


    Don't hesitate to install subframe connectors. Buy some MM pieces and install them/get them installed as soon as you can (weld in only). You'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. The car will ride better, less squeaks and rattles and IMO, improved traction due to no chassis flex during hard throttle moments.

    One of the biggest things I noticed aside from what was listed above was the difference in how the car felt in hard corners during spirited driving. The car actually felt connected, rather than the front and rear reacting independently of each other instead of working together.

    I debated installing SFC's for a couple years, once I installed them, I regretted not taking the advice of others and installing them before anything else was done.

    DO IT!!

    1986 Mustang GT 5spd
    1998 Explorer Limited 5.0AWD (Wife's Ride)
    1999 Ranger Ex-Cab 3.0 5spd (My Winter Beater)

  8. #8


    Thanks for all the great advice and feedback. Seems pretty unanimous!

    In fact, I just ordered a set of Maximum Motorsport full-length connectors because the ones I had picked up a few years ago were a cheap "off brand" and I figure this is worth the extra $150 to get a new set from MM and do it right. Plus, truth be known, I have no idea where those other ones are in my storage or garage!!

    Looking forward to getting these welded in and experiencing what all of you have shared above.

    Thanks again,

  9. #9


    I've had full length sub-frames on my '86 since the 90's. I have stiff Mach1 springs upfront. But, I use a Steeda spring spacer and new poly isolators to get ~~~1/2" lower than stock from the factory with brand new isolators.
    Over the years, the rubber isolators compress, and the lower ones often wear away. So, that lowers a 100% stock car by ~~1/2".

    So, is my car "stock height or 1/2" lower?".

    Also, getting a good STB that also mounts to the firewall is a good idea.
    What people said above is correct. It will help reduce the flex and potential failure of the frame of your 30+ year old car.
    Will it be "harsher". A little. But, the car will be more predictable and consistent.

    If you want a softer ride, there are other options. A good dual adjustable shock will be able to be tuned to your vehicle and set up.
    And, tires and tire pressure make a big difference. I like the Goodrich "RE" series at a slightly higher and stiffer rate.
    I also have 245/45/17 tires. So, I run, and love , stiff/firm tires. Those definitely effect ride harshness. If I put on my Blizzak snow tires for the winter, I immediately notice the "softer" ride (compared to the RE tires).

    Good Luck!
    Btw, I live in New England. And, unless someone is a moron and works for the NFL , they'll know, realize, or at least understand when explained, that temperature and inflation pressure are directly related.
    So, when it gets in the 40's, my tires are still at or a little above the suggested pressure. Having a 30F++ temperature swing is no big deal in places like New England or Colorado.

    Btw, of course, make sure the car is level and the suspension is weighted when the sub-frames are welded on.

    Good Luck!

  10. #10


    Last edited by quickshift; 05-30-2018 at 07:09 PM.
    84 Cougar, 90 HO with 700DP, Edelbrock RPM intake, 1.7 RRs, shorty's and SS exh, T-5, KC clutch, Hurst pro billet, line loc, 8.8, 4.10s, suspension mods....blah, blah,blah.

    71 Comet, 289, Liberty TL, 9", 6.00s, 11.9x @ 112.... blah, blah, blah.

  11. #11


    Strut tower brace is a great second addition. It helps prevent strut tower metal failure like the one I experienced on my car in the mid 90ís. Break one and youíll go for a ride you wonít soon forget, believe me!

    the best STB goes to the factory pinch welds like Maximum Motorsports does. Those also tend to clear induction setups better. I had an HPM on my car and had to ditch it for a MM after an intake swap..... now I have extra holes.

    Another great mod is a lower K member brace. Or even just simply bolt in some square tubing. Hereís what the Saleens and Racecraft kits had....,
    Attached Images Attached Images      
    Last edited by erratic50; 05-31-2018 at 10:04 AM.

  12. #12


    Burn 'em in! You will immediately feel the difference.

    The car will feel more solid and predictable. I'm glad I installed mine.
    Project "WinBacK" 1986 LX Hatchback
    - CA car, 5.0 w/5 speed
    - Cobra 17x8.5's + Modded Mach1 Chin Spoiler + 83-84 Hood & Scoop/85-86 "Blackout"+ FMS Mass Air Kit+ MM Clutch Cable & Quadrant + Fiore Cable Adjuster + MM SFC's+ Wild Rides "Battle Boxes" + Explorer Intake, Converted TB & Injectors, 70 mm Mass Air Meter + BBK Ceramic Shorties + 2.5" Bassani O/R X-Pipe & Cat-Back Exhaust w/ 3" Tips + 3L27 w/ Carbon Fiber Clutches​(out of retirement) + Pistol Grip Shifter + 99-04 GT Front/00 Cobra Rear Disc Brakes

  13. #13
    FEP Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Mexico City


    I just installed the BBK subframe connectors and the strut tower brace in my 89 GT convertible. It was a great improvement in the cars rigidity, it no longer feels like a noodle, the ride feels much more composed and the suspension works better. I felt no harshness in the ride at all.

    Since this is a convertible I am also going to install a rear shock tower brace as well and the Eibach sway bar kit, expecting these two additional improvements will bring the ride closer to a 5.0 coupe, as these cars have the most horrible cowl shake.

  14. #14
    FEP Power Member STL79Coupe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    St. louis MO


    You'll be able to see a BIG differnce in the first 10ft of driving. SFC should always be the first thing done. Just watch which one's you use as some hang low and can kill ground clearence
    Keith formerly STLPONDS
    '79 V8 coupe in the works!
    Build thread

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