"Best" starting platform for AutoX - Ford Mustang Forums : Corral.net Mustang Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 09-05-2018, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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"Best" is in quotes for a reason, let me explain.

Years ago I autoXed. Life got in the way and I haven't been on a course in over a decade. It was an absolute blast and I'm getting the itch.

My fox is pretty capable. Has good brakes and I just threw a slew of MM goodies at it. But the car is too nice, too heavy , too street focused and really my cruiser as that's what I want it to be. Full interior, power seat, A/C, dynomat, etc.

So I want to pick up a cheap fox/sn95 and just have fun with it. No major mods, perhaps gut the interior and install spare parts I have now. I have a set of cobra brakes, so I was leaning SN95 as it's an easier mod vs a full 5-lug on a fox. SN95 are stiffer, wider track and I've also seen ragged out 94-98 Cobra selling pretty cheap. Needs paint, trashed interior and wheels etc. fox in my area still pull decent money, but for some reason you can find a 94 cobra for cheap.

So, given the desire for minimum initial outlay and minor modification over time, what platform would you start with? This will be a trailer car, so no street concessions need to be made. My main desire is to have fun and maybe get the kids involved with me as they get older.

Don't say Miata. I've seen first hand what they can do but but for the moment let's focus on 87-04 mustangs.


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post #2 of 28 Old 09-06-2018, 05:10 PM
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i'd say a 5.0 sn95 non-convertible. you're gonna replace just about everything anyways.

but IMHO you're worlds ahead if you can start with a s197 mustang instead. much better base suspension and fits wide tires with minimal effort.

or, if you aren't partial to brand, a c4 or if you have the cash, c5+ vette is gonna be worlds better than any mustang. sorry, but its the truth.


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post #3 of 28 Old 09-06-2018, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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I agree with you but now we are getting up there in up front costs. Already got one money sucking project car.

All comes down to finding some sort of cheap, "cosmetically deprived" car to just tear apart and have fun in. If I were to go buy a c5 vette, it would turn into a weekend cruiser vs something I can beat on with no regard.

Not ruling anything out though

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post #4 of 28 Old 09-06-2018, 05:50 PM
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Miata!!! No, I'm just kidding. If you aren't partial to brands, BMW, Porsche or Corvette.

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post #5 of 28 Old 09-07-2018, 06:09 AM
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I am a bit biased but Datsun 240Z / 260Z / 280Z with ford 5.0L. I only say this because that is what I have. Here is what I like about this combination.

1. 2500 lbs full of fuel with me in the car. Other have gone lighter, but I still have the factory dash, windshield and hatch.
2. 52% of weight on rear tires with me in the car (50 / 50 when I am not).
3. Huge engine compartment.
4. Lots of available aftermarket suspension and brakes.
5. independent rear suspension. I run the R200 differential with 3.36 gears and clutch type LSD with CV axles.
6. There are some really nice body kits available to provide extra tire clearance.
7. This car eats Miatas for lunch.

Here are some of the cons of this platform.

1. They are getting harder to find in decent condition at a reasonable price.
2. If you want to put an LS motor in these cars, there are kits available, but doing a SBF requires a lot of fabrication (motor mounts, transmission mount).
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post #6 of 28 Old 09-07-2018, 09:31 AM
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SN95 is wider and stiffer you say?

A fox with a cage/SFC will be just as stiff as a SN95 with the same.

Wider is easy to fix ( MM a arms/96-04 spindles/wheel spacers/aftermarket more offset/wider wheels) Like my fox.


Another benefit of the fox is its weight or lack thereof, Im pretty damn sure my track fox now weighs in the high 24xx lbs range. Which is mind blowing even to me, and i still have stock steering coloum with tilt!

Also you can get a fox for under 1k, if you truly want a autox project car.

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post #7 of 28 Old 09-07-2018, 03:10 PM
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I didn't realize this was going to be such a difficult question to answer.

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post #8 of 28 Old 09-07-2018, 03:57 PM
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you want to put my fiat X 1/9 back together ?
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post #9 of 28 Old 09-08-2018, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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SN95 is wider and stiffer you say?

A fox with a cage/SFC will be just as stiff as a SN95 with the same.

Wider is easy to fix ( MM a arms/96-04 spindles/wheel spacers/aftermarket more offset/wider wheels) Like my fox
Yeah but those mods aren't cheap by the time I throw the MM book at the car. I've already done that to my current fox, not looking to do it again.

I guess to sum up what I want in one sentence....I want a $3-4K car that I would spend maybe $1k in total mods and call it a day. So no MM suspension or anything fancy.

I realize it's going to suck balls, but I'm just looking to have fun.

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post #10 of 28 Old 09-08-2018, 05:05 PM
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Question

What about a Miata or BMW 3 series?


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post #11 of 28 Old 09-08-2018, 05:41 PM Thread Starter
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Miata is a strong candidate but for the sake of this thread let's limit it to mustangs
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post #12 of 28 Old 09-08-2018, 06:49 PM
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Plenty of Mustangs available. (I'm thinking about a 600cc sportsbike for the Spring).

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post #13 of 28 Old 09-10-2018, 04:55 PM
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Yeah but those mods aren't cheap by the time I throw the MM book at the car. I've already done that to my current fox, not looking to do it again.

I guess to sum up what I want in one sentence....I want a $3-4K car that I would spend maybe $1k in total mods and call it a day. So no MM suspension or anything fancy.

I realize it's going to suck balls, but I'm just looking to have fun.
hm, maybe a 2005 mustang? it has a stiffer chassis and a panhard bar stock. and you can stuff larger tyres on it and its 5 lug with plenty of power, Not sure on what they go for beat and used. Maybe even get the v6?

Dont know much on the 05-10 mustangs but gut it and go have fun,

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post #14 of 28 Old 09-11-2018, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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hm, maybe a 2005 mustang? it has a stiffer chassis and a panhard bar stock. and you can stuff larger tyres on it and its 5 lug with plenty of power,
That's actually not a bad suggestion when i really think about it. Just need to see what i can get one beat and used for.
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post #15 of 28 Old 09-11-2018, 11:12 AM
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Just a quick look at Facebook marketplace, it looks like S197's start around $4000 in various conditions. Good luck!

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post #16 of 28 Old 09-11-2018, 01:00 PM
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get the newest mustang you can afford

or a e series bmw.

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post #17 of 28 Old 09-11-2018, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Just a quick look at Facebook marketplace, it looks like S197's start around $4000 in various conditions. Good luck!
Thats really not that bad. I wonder how light you can get an '05 if you strip it down a tad.
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post #18 of 28 Old 09-11-2018, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by EscortSportage View Post
hm, maybe a 2005 mustang? it has a stiffer chassis and a panhard bar stock. and you can stuff larger tyres on it and its 5 lug with plenty of power, Not sure on what they go for beat and used. Maybe even get the v6?

Dont know much on the 05-10 mustangs but gut it and go have fun,
I had an 06 GT with ground control coilovers, gt500 brakes, and 18x10.5" wheels with 200tw tires for CAM-C. It was damn fast for having just a few mods. They can absolutely stuff tires under the stock sheet metal. 18x11 is easy with the right offsets
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post #19 of 28 Old 09-11-2018, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by 88lxvert View Post
get the newest mustang you can afford

or a e series bmw.
whats an e series bmw? do you mean 3?

i had a e36 318ti, which is basically an e36 car with e36 front suspension (MacPherson strut), and e30 rear suspension (semi-trailing arm). it was on ground control coilovers and m3 front brakes and made me seriously reconsider owning a mustang for a loooong time. just didnt have the power/torque of the v8...

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post #20 of 28 Old 09-11-2018, 03:02 PM
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6 cylinder S197 ('05-'10), swap a 302 in it. They all came with 8.8's and 31 spline axles. They have a very capable suspension design. Also reasonably large brakes. They will take an 18x10 front wheel without any problem. Completely stripped of all non-essential stuff and pushrod swapped with a lightweight race seat would drop at least 5-700 pounds off it's roughly 3400 pound curb weight.

Later, if you wish to drop more weight you can get a bunch of light weight stuff for the suspension. The wiring harness must weigh 40 pounds.
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post #21 of 28 Old 09-12-2018, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. I hadn't considerd using an '05 Mustang but now i'm giving it serious thought. Will need to keep my eye out and see if i can find one that has a rough body and interior that i can get cheap cheap cheap.

I have an extra space in my garage and just itching to fill it with something.

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post #22 of 28 Old 09-12-2018, 11:41 AM
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https://boston.craigslist.org/sob/mo...675860917.html

This is older than you want, but I wonder how it handles. '94 Cobra with a full Kenny Brown suspension.

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post #23 of 28 Old 09-13-2018, 04:36 PM
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If autocrossing, we gotta talk classes first. With the fox platform, it's gonna need LOTS of modification to even be close to competitive. That's going to put you into one of the prepared classes, or into CAM. I would recommend shooting for CAM-C, that'd be 1994 and up Mustangs. Out of all the CAM classes, CAM-C is slowest usually, and usually has the most cars. A fox based car would do best there IMO.

CAM-C has a minimum weight of 3250lbs. So you wouldn't need to do much gutting. And, you'd be on street tires of 200tw and above, which is much easier on the wallet than Hoosiers.

CAM-T is 1993 and under Mustangs, but at a national level event you'd be running against some absolute monster cars. Go look at Detroit Speed's shop car, that's a national level CAM-T car.

The S-197 platform would be a very wise choice. You wouldn't need to do the heavy mods like you would need to do on a fox platform car. Fit some 315's under it, get some stiff springs and dampers, set a bunch of negative camber on the front and go race.

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post #24 of 28 Old 09-13-2018, 10:18 PM
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6 cylinder S197 ('05-'10), swap a 302 in it. They all came with 8.8's and 31 spline axles. They have a very capable suspension design. Also reasonably large brakes. They will take an 18x10 front wheel without any problem. Completely stripped of all non-essential stuff and pushrod swapped with a lightweight race seat would drop at least 5-700 pounds off it's roughly 3400 pound curb weight.

Later, if you wish to drop more weight you can get a bunch of light weight stuff for the suspension. The wiring harness must weigh 40 pounds.
When Ford came out with the S197 Cobra Jet Mustangs, IIRC, there was one available with a pushrod Windsor for a specific Super Stock class... I seem to recall there were motor mounts available from FRPP to put a Windsor in the S197... I donít recall if those Cobra Jet Mustangs used the stock k-member though...

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post #25 of 28 Old 09-13-2018, 10:24 PM
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Those mounts are M-6038-CJPR. But if you want them, you'd have to go searching. They are NLA.

That said, it would not take a lot to make custom mounts.

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post #26 of 28 Old 09-13-2018, 11:00 PM
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The S197 engine bay is gigantic. The pushrod 302 is tiny. The 4.6 3V is like 26.5" wide or so. The pushrod 302 is about 18" wide.

Here's a picture of that frpp kit. Looks easy enough to recreate on your own. In fact I suspect you could fabricate mounts that line up with the stock k-member pretty easy.

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post #27 of 28 Old 09-14-2018, 12:46 AM
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"Best" is in quotes for a reason, let me explain.

Years ago I autoXed. Life got in the way and I haven't been on a course in over a decade. It was an absolute blast and I'm getting the itch.

My fox is pretty capable. Has good brakes and I just threw a slew of MM goodies at it. But the car is too nice, too heavy , too street focused and really my cruiser as that's what I want it to be. Full interior, power seat, A/C, dynomat, etc.

So I want to pick up a cheap fox/sn95 and just have fun with it. No major mods, perhaps gut the interior and install spare parts I have now. I have a set of cobra brakes, so I was leaning SN95 as it's an easier mod vs a full 5-lug on a fox. SN95 are stiffer, wider track and I've also seen ragged out 94-98 Cobra selling pretty cheap. Needs paint, trashed interior and wheels etc. fox in my area still pull decent money, but for some reason you can find a 94 cobra for cheap.

So, given the desire for minimum initial outlay and minor modification over time, what platform would you start with? This will be a trailer car, so no street concessions need to be made. My main desire is to have fun and maybe get the kids involved with me as they get older.

Don't say Miata. I've seen first hand what they can do but but for the moment let's focus on 87-04 mustangs.
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post #28 of 28 Old 09-14-2018, 09:23 PM
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I am a bit biased but Datsun 240Z / 260Z / 280Z with ford 5.0L. I only say this because that is what I have. Here is what I like about this combination.

1. 2500 lbs full of fuel with me in the car. Other have gone lighter, but I still have the factory dash, windshield and hatch.
2. 52% of weight on rear tires with me in the car (50 / 50 when I am not).
3. Huge engine compartment.
4. Lots of available aftermarket suspension and brakes.
5. independent rear suspension. I run the R200 differential with 3.36 gears and clutch type LSD with CV axles.
6. There are some really nice body kits available to provide extra tire clearance.
7. This car eats Miatas for lunch.

Here are some of the cons of this platform.

1. They are getting harder to find in decent condition at a reasonable price.
2. If you want to put an LS motor in these cars, there are kits available, but doing a SBF requires a lot of fabrication (motor mounts, transmission mount).
Damn nice car sir!!


To OP. You seem to be leaning towards an SN95/fox. If that is what you want then do it. It all comes down to what you really want to do; how competitive and in what class. With a semi modded sn95 you would be fine in ESP. Although that class has evos/stis. My friend in a 96 cobra vert did fine and won a lot of events in the region at the time.

Are there better cars overall, sure. But the upfront cost will be more. You can do anything with enough $$ always lol.
So think about where you want to be when autoxing then pick what you think you will enjoy/know the best.

But I am partial to sn95 cobras. So take that with a grain of salt
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