After spending 5+ weeks evaluating suspension tweaks for the S197 on this forum and others, I decided to give Sam Strano a call and discuss my options with him.
My goal: To eliminate wheel gap without the slammed look; to tighten down the car and get rid of the bouncy ride; to make my car feel like an E92 (2008+) M3.
Sam gave me a list of options and probed me with further questions. Ultimately I decided to take a granular approach and stick with just shocks and springs and then do more things if that wasn't good enough.
I paid a local shop (Super Tune Performance in Stillwell,KS) to perform the work. I was charged $530 for all installation and alignment.
First, the appearance:
(pardon the dirty car and bad photo - just bought a new Nikon D7000 and haven't figured it out yet)
I like the look of the drop. It's basically exactly what I wanted. I'm sure many people would say I should have dropped further but I wanted to maintain enough travel for the suspension and avoid the "low and flat" look where rake is eliminated.
My first reaction to driving my car was fury. Not because I was disappointed in the car but because I was disappointed in Ford. There is absolutely ZERO reason Ford should not include a suspension setup like this from the factory.
Before I say anymore, let me say that I have owned and modified cars for the past 15 years. This is the best modification I have ever had done to any of my cars.
The Brembo cars are the best handling Mustangs I have ever driven but they still weren't up to my standards: a little too bouncy, car takes a nosedive under heavy braking, far too much body roll, pleasantly soft but a little too vague. Not with the Koni Sport adjustables and the Steeda Sport Springs!
Bounce? Almost completely eliminated.
Nosedives? No more. When I hit accelerator now, the car just goes - I am no longer treated to a view of the sky.
Body roll? I am taking turns flat out at speeds much higher. Even the crappy Mustang seats are able to hold me in place now because I'm not rolling around in them.
Soft? Not any longer. I can feel what is under me now. But let me be sure to explain: this car is MUCH more comfortable to drive than it was before. Going over a pretty poor bit of highway on my daily commute I noticed how much better the car could tackle the road imperfections without punishing my back. I can feel that they're there, but it is much less annoying than before.
So for $1000 in parts and $500 in labor I have a car that is more comfortable to drive, much more FUN to drive, and makes my car look a lot better. I've spent a lot of time in the new M3 and while I still think that car "feels" better (probably due to much superior tire, seats, and steering rack) I think that my modifications have eliminated 95% of what I would consider a "fun deficit" between my car and the M3. Add that to a car that has a superior engine and a $30k cheaper pricetag, and I think this is the best performance bargain this side of a C6 Grand Sport.
Koni Adjustable Sports (Yellows) http://www.stranoparts.com/partdetai...199&ModelID=35
Steeda Sport Springs
GT500 Upper Strut Mount
(I got the ones for 2010 and not 2011 - not sure what the difference is)
Note - I did not get an adjustable panhard bar as my car was not dropped low enough to require one.