Classic Ford Mustang Notchback Gets Coilover Makeover

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College student single-handedly installs a coilover upgrade on his vintage Mustang for a massive improvement in ride quality.

When you go to college, you learn a lot more than just what’s in the expensive textbooks you have to get. You encounter people from different cultures, some from the other side of the planet. You try new foods. If you go to school out of state, you figure out how to function in a completely different world than the one you once knew. You also get valuable experience in budgeting your time for studying, working, and pursuing your hobbies. Film student and Four Speed Films founder Ben Kahan seems to have figured out how to do that. He spent the only time he had available, the weekends, installing a coilover suspension in his 1965 Ford Mustang notchback.

In his video documenting the process, he gets right to work on his car, which seems to be a tribute to Steve McQueen’s 1968 “Bullitt” Mustang. Swapping out the old-school suspension hardware for fresh coilovers took him two weekends, so Kahan speeds up the footage to show what the procedure involved in a viewer-friendly amount of time.

mustangforums.com Classic Mustang Gets Coilover Suspension

Here’s the gist of it: Jack car up, take front wheels off, pop the hood, pull the front shocks up and out, yank the springs from below, drill through the strut tower brace mounts, install plastic washers, torque down the brace, put the coilovers in, insert and tighten the top hardware, repeat on the bottom end, re-mount the wheels, lower the car.

mustangforums.com Classic Mustang Gets Coilover Suspension

The rear end requires its own set of steps. The biggest difference is the fact that its new hardware doesn’t have the external spring around it.

mustangforums.com Classic Mustang Gets Coilover Suspension

The only way Kahan can truly determine if his time was well spent is to drive his car. Luckily, he soon discovers that sacrificing two of his weekends made a big improvement. “Oh my God, it’s like a new car.”

Kahan wanted to take his Mustang’s handling to the next level, so he chose a stiffer, performance-oriented setting for the coilovers. “It’s a little bumpy, but I don’t want … a normal ride.”

Kahan’s solo project is a success. It causes a problem, though. Kahan says, “The suspension really makes me want to upgrade my tires,” which don’t allow him to put as much power down as he’d like.

mustangforums.com Classic Mustang Gets Coilover Suspension

Once Kahan eventually finds the set he likes, he’ll have to make time to go get them mounted on his wheels. We’re confident he will. Clearly, he’s already learned how to fit upgrading his Mustang into his busy schedule.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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