Mark VIII LeMons race car suspension advice needed - TCCoA Forums
 
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 12:46 AM Thread Starter
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Mark VIII LeMons race car suspension advice needed

I have a '94 Mark VIII (you know, the only one in the 24 Hours Of LeMons racing series). I am doing some suspension work, including replacing the lower 'control arms' (strut rods). The strut rod to frame bushings are shot, the strut rod to control arm bushings are MISSING altogether (like 1-2 inches of fore/aft movement in BOTH front wheels, was like that for both LeMons events), and the ball joints have 133k on them. My local Advance sell the TRW ones for a SC (#10771 and 10772) for $56.99 each, and according to the picture, they come with the strut rod to lower arm bushings. I just ordered them today, they should be here Thursday. I've searched extensively on this forum for tips, and I know about the lousy Moog bushings. I'm hoping the TRW ones will last long enough for a car that will see 1-2k miles a year on the road course. I'm wondering though, why are the SC parts all listed SC only? Even some springs say NON-SC ONLY! I thought the SC cars mainly just had stiffer spring rates and thicker sway bars? Will the parts I ordered work?

I'm also trying to figure out the best shock/spring combo. Right now, the car has stock T-bird coils and shocks (unknown what they came off of), and it handles terribly, with tons of body roll. I have to do all this on a tight budget, to keep the car under the $500 limit. The KYB GR2's are pretty affordable at $149 shipped on Ebay, but there are differing opinions on here as to their performance. It seems pretty clear everyone likes the Vogtland springs, but I'm unsure how much drop to go with, and if the GR2s are valved properly to work well on a race course with drop springs. I was gonna go with Tokico blues, but I talked to some suppliers who thought I'd be unhappy with them. I can't do Konis, they are way over the budget. Right now, I plan to order these springs, but I don't want to mismatch them if I do the GR2's. Should I just go 3/4", instead of lower?

I can get a pair of low mileage Cobra IRS rear Bilsteins for $100 to my door, but I'd still need fronts. I doubt the GR2s would be as stiff as the Bilsteins, and they don't sell the sports anymore. What to use? Remember, this is a HEAVILY GUTTED track-only road race car, not a street car. I need it to handle, not ride smoothly. I already have new Energy Suspension rear sway bar links, and as they are shorter than stock, they should work well when I lower the car.

I managed to pull 300 unnecessary pounds out of it so far this week (trunk, rear deck, seatbelt retractors, bumper covers, inner door panels, etc. Unfortunately, most of that was at/near the rear. Weight has been our enemy, and I'm getting crazy with the plasma cutter yanking it all out. I even unbolted the 20 lb. non-working ABS, and I plan to reconfigure it as a conventional non-ABS system. The healthy diet will help our performance, as will the switch to a T45 5 speed. It's also getting a whole new look (think urban assault vehicle). I really want to see how far we can take this platform. So far we finished 10th out of 56 in New England (fastest American car), and 36th out of 94 in South Carolina (first outing, spent two hours in the penalty box). We feel that there's a whole lot more in the car, once we finally get the suspension fixed up, you know, with actual bushings and all. We are also gonna switch to Falken Azenis RT-615 tires for more grip, and try to add some camber.

Basically, I really need to know what drop to order the Vogtlands in, and what shocks will work best with them for racing. Some tracks are smooth, some (like Nelson Ledges) are ROUGH. I have two sets of stock Mark VIII sway bars. Has anyone ever considered doubling them up? I can fab almost anything, I just don't know if it would be TOO stiff. Any real-world-experience-based advice would be appreciated.


Last edited by Speedycop; 08-09-2009 at 12:43 PM.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 12:53 AM Thread Starter
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BTW, about 80 pounds of the weight I yanked was two plates I had added for rear weight back when I raced the car on the dirt track. We are eating tires like nobody's business, and sliding around on the track. The fat MUST be trimmed.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 08:41 AM
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i don't race my car, but i'll share what I know.

the best strut rod to frame bushings that i have seen are the ford OEM set. I have a set of the moogs, new in box, that I'll send you for free if you want. you'll see why they are inferior.

I have the TRW LCA and they came with a rear strut rod bushing installed and it seems durable so far - about 3 years of DD on them.

if your budget will allow it, i would go with the addco bars. i am only using an upgraded rear bar, and it still did a lot to flatten body roll for me. i doubt you can double up the front....clearance is nil as it is. never heard of anyone trying it though.

i also have several chassis braces: RTLB, LECB and STB - they make a huge difference. If you can fab these up yourself, they are well worth it. dont underestimate the gains here. the more chassis flex is controlled, it seems to make handling more predictable.

i have also heard of Mark owners lowering the ride sensors to lower their vehicles a bit. to answer your question, with that much weight removed from your car, i would order the max drop for your springs. new rubber spring isolators are recommended when you make the swap.

an additional degree of camber did a lot to help handling for me and it worked OK with stock tire sizes. when i went to larger profile tires, it started to eat the insides too much for daily driving. you might be able to work with this though.

and asking about the best front strut is like asking about favorite flavor of ice cream: nobody's opinion matches and it draws forum trolls. some folks will even just argue its a shock not a strut. keep searching and you should be able to find useful info amongst the garbage here. my best advice is that since the spring/strut subassembly is easy to change, setup a couple of different ones and test out what works for you.

your project looks cool and sounds fun!! keep representing!!

I am sure you'll get lots of response here. a few people actually race MN12 platforms so there is some empirical knowledge out there.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill H View Post
i have also heard of Mark owners lowering the ride sensors to lower their vehicles a bit. to answer your question, with that much weight removed from your car, i would order the max drop for your springs. new rubber spring isolators are recommended when you make the swap.
i have wanted to do this since i got my car, and the only thing i can find on this is this link
http://www.automotivehelper.com/topic482595.htm

i want to lower my car about 1.5-2 inches using this method, but i can find anywhere that says where i can find these sensors...
post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Bill. I'd like to do the addco bars, I just can't with the budget I have for this next race. We were fortunate to get a residual value of $35, which means we can spend $465 on the car. Jay Lamm said the car looked like it was worth two extra large pizzas.

What ever happened to Jerry, anyway? Back in the day, he did the flash tune on my '98 Crown Vic. I was the first to do a fast 4.6 Vic, eventually running 12.5 @110 with an S Trim and an Aftercooler. It was in Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords in March '03. I'd LOVE for him to flash the Mark VIII's computer...
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 10:12 AM
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Handling?

Hello

I need more info!

is it tight or loose? when you turn into a corner what happens??

You really need to know the spring weights!

I have run the KYB's on my race car with good rerults.

To start go this bracing HUGH upgrade!
I also cut my front bumper in half. with cover on it don't show.

I run a 351W in my car so can't help you with engine stuff.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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The full cage is gonna get tied in to the front and rear, instead of just the floor. I'm also gonna fab up some lightweight STB's. That will more than suffice for bracing. I'm gonna replace the front bumper with a lightweight aluminum takeoff from another car. The bad thing about LeMons is, collisions are pretty much inevitable when you put rookie drivers behind the wheel of "junk" cars, and turn a hundred of them loose to go balls out on a road course at the same time. My guys can all drive, but many drivers are rookies. I need a strong bumper, but the stocker just looks way too heavy.

It handles like an old Mark VIII with worn-out shocks, soft springs, and no LCA bushings. Tons of oversteer, terrible tracking, heavy tire scrub, etc. I'm gonna change all that, I just want a good combination that will work on the track. New bushings/arms, Vogtland springs, and decent shocks will do the trick, along with the aforementioned extensive weight reduction. If the KYB's will suffice, great. They are cheap enough. If something else is noticeably better for a bit more money, I'd rather not skimp now on a one-time purchase. I just can't do Konis, too much $$$. I dunno if road courses will be as easy on the KYB's as circle track. I did 1/3 mile high banked clay oval with this car while it still had air suspension, that's why it has no bushings left. The track is really bumpy, and it getting hit numerous times didn't help. Here's a great action photo, where two cars hit each other, then one slammed me into the guardrail, causing my tires to climb it, and tearing up my chassis/suspension/air pump:

Last edited by Speedycop; 08-09-2009 at 12:42 PM.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 03:47 PM
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Go to SCCOA.com, and read everything by Duffy Floyd, as well as everything he has posted here.

IMHO, for best handling, upgrade the front lower arms to the sport version; I've heard recently they are available again.

Using sport springs rules, but you need great shocks. Konis are the best, and my next purchase.

Aftermarket swaybars help a lot.

The strut rod bushings su*k, but Factory bushings are the best.

Bracing, Bracing, Bracing! JL makes sets; search for his thread.

There has been tons of discussion on all of these topics; Search is your friend!

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I searched for several days, but it seems it boils down to personal preference. I was hoping for something more definitive, like DO NOT use shock A with spring height B, etc. I'll look for Duffy's posts.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Look like I'll have to settle for the GR2's. I can swing the extra $80 for Tokicos, but it doesn't seem like they are really any better. I'm gonna do the Vogtland 1.6" drop springs with them, unless the two won't work together. My car likely won't drop as much, because it weighs far less than a stocker. That, and the TRW S/C LCA's will have to do for now.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-09-2009, 11:38 PM
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Hey there. I'm the guy that was at the CT race with the 89 cougar. On our car for suspension, we were running stock SC springs with 1 coil cut off the rears and 1.5 off the fronts. We also had the SC sway bars. We didn't have body roll issues, but we did have serious wheel hop issues, which prevented us from putting the power down around the banked turn, and which you will probably face as well if you get a 5-speed in there. For the next race we do, I have a set of bilstein rear shocks to swap into it, and I'm thinking about getting some of those air bladders that sit inside the spring to try to help with the wheel hop. I don't know what I'm going to do about the front shocks yet.

Also for your T45 swap, a few bits of advice to keep it on the cheap. Use an SC pedal and master cylinder with a slave cylinder for a 94/95 chevy S10 4-cyl. You will have to fab up a bracket to bolt the chevy slave on the side of the T45 trans to push on the stock mustang clutch fork, but that is easy. For the driveshaft, one out of a crown vic is the exact right length that you need. If you get one out of a CVPI, it is aluminum too, and either way it is cheaper than having yours shortened and rebalanced. If there is any way you can swing it in the budget, the MarkVIII with the 5-speed really responds well to more gear, so a set of 3.73s, or maybe even 4.10s and a TL diff would help a lot. The only thing that is going to be an issue with your setup is turning off the auto trans controls, as you will definitely need a chip for that. Also, for the shifter issue, instead of doing the extension box, you can fab up something like this using angle iron and a stock shifter for about $20.

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 06:48 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips on the trans swap. I already bought all the mustang stuff (used BBK cable/quadrant, Mustang pedals, etc.), so I'm gonna try to make that work first.

I've had 3.73's with a Trac-lok in the car for two years now, since its dirt track days. I REALLY appreciate the driveshaft tip. I think I have a CVPI shaft laying around here. I figure, with no dash in the way, we'll be able to reach the shifter well enough without extending more than the handle itself.

I was hoping the stock computer would suffice if the stock automatic trans shifter position sensor was left in neutral. Am I wrong?

And what did ever happen to the J-man? He still around?
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 11:37 AM
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Well I can't say for sure with the OBD1 car, but on my 98LSC, as well as on a T45 swapped 94 cougar I had, without the tune, it does some really weird stuff because it doesn't see all of the inputs from the trans, so even with the MLPS sensor in neutral, it will randomly mess with the timing or something when it thinks it is going to shift, so you don't have a smooth power delivery, it will randomly bog down a bit, then speed up, etc. Maybe with the OBD1 you might be able to get away with it though, I don't know. It depends how the programming is in that ECM.

For the driveshaft, the only thing is you have to change the yoke out for the T45 one, and depending on the year you might need to change the rear flange as well, but that's it.

For the shifter, my 94 cougar had just the handle modified to arc back a bit like you said, and I ended up having issues with it popping out of 3rd and 5th because even though it wasn't much weight, the weight of the shifter handle was pulling down in those gears all the time, and it wiped out the synchros. Plus the shift pattern was kind of weird because it became sort of up and forward for 1,3, and 5 instead of just forward. Also the longer handle made the shift throws farther. The setup pictured is what I have in my 98LSC, and I like it much better. The only difference is the link between the 2 shifters, instead of using the angle iron I got a piece of 3/4" pipe and notched both ends to fit around the shifter, and then used a bolt as a pivot point for it. That got rid of basically all the play in it, and on my car unless you pull the trim panel, you would never know that the shifter isn't sitting directly in the trans. Plus as cheap as that setup is to build, you might as well.

By the way, are you planning on going to the Ohio race in October?

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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Yep. Doing the Ohio race as well as South Fall in September. I'll probably rig the shifter up the same way as you then. Is the T5 shifter the same as the T45? Did you go the hydraulic clutch route, or Mustang cable?
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 12:18 PM
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Good advice here so far, I used to open-track my 95 SC. Put in the best shocks that you have the budget for, and expect them to be toast by the end of the race. I did a 24 at Nelson about 15 years ago, it was nasty rough. My friends in that area tell me that it hasn't gotten any better.


See you at the Nelson Ledges race. I'll be in a mid-80s Supra.


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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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I've been looking for an 86.5-up Supra. You should do well...
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 03:32 PM
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The T5 and T45 shifters are the same. For the clutch, the easiest way is to go hydraulic with the SC pedal and master cylinder, and the S10 slave. When I first did the swap on my 94 cougar I really wanted to keep it a cable setup, but it would have been entirely too much work.

If you want another driver for the Ohio race, let me know. 2 of us wanted to go to ohio, but we didn't have 2 other drivers.

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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 08:47 PM
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you'll probably want a tune to properly compensate for the 5 speed swap. i know its been done....you might try the EEC forum. you might just be able to pick up a reflashed EEC from someone.

i have heard the j-man is still around, just not on these forums. i suspect there are a select few that could reach him.

there are a couple people who have picked up some tuning skills from him over the years. i think lonnie doll at blue oval is one that is pretty active.

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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 01:19 AM
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TEAM POLICE BRUTALITY! I was wondering when you lot would show up here.

Ms. Murilee Martin is surprised you guys haven't done better...

Or at least, that's what she says.

I'd order the GR2's from Rock Auto, I got a smokin deal on mine and then with online coupon codes, the savings really adds up...

I do have an old SCT tuner (first gen for 1994-1995 OBD 1.5 cars... not fully OBDII like 1996) that I'm willing to donate, it's up to you to get it programmed though...

As for suspension, I'm sure you guys are able to fab, so listen to me when I say this-- FAB SOME LOWER ENGINE CRADLE BRACES to connect the suspension to the subframe. it is a huge improvement in handling, you can see how they look at SuperCoupe Performance.

Bracing makes a far bigger improvement to the MN12/FN10 chassis than springs or shocks, in my own personal experience.

Are you guys going to the Buttonwillow race this coming weekend?
I MIGHT be bothered to go if you guys are entering.

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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 05:53 AM Thread Starter
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Buttonwillow is a bit far (2,742 miles each way to be exact). We're doing Fall CMP and NL.

Thanks for the bracing tips, but all the chassis stiffening in the world cannot stop the kind of body roll we've been seeing. We'll make the braces ourselves, but we GOTTA do shocks/springs.

Who can tune that programmer? Dennis Reinhart? I was thinking of sending him my EEC.
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post #21 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedycop View Post
I've been looking for an 86.5-up Supra. You should do well...
The one I will be in is the previous gen., 85 I think it is. Still not a bad car, just a lot more sharp edges.


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