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2000 Performance Red GT Convertible, a.k.a. Project Firestorm

Project Firestorm

Firestorm during all Yellow Mustang show 5/25/02

Custom Performance's Subframe Connectors & Jacking Rails
Product Review
May 2003

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What ARE subframe connectors?
Have you ever noticed how much the late model Mustangs twist and bend going over bumps at an angle? Does it creak or make popping sounds that you can't seem to locate? Or in drag racing where the whole car seems to twist to one side as it launches hard off the line? The solution to fix some of these problems lies in an aftermarket product called Subframe Connectors. Coupes don't come with them at all from the factory. Convertibles come with a bolt-on subframe connector for extra rigidity, but they are flimsy and really serve no purpose, especially if you have the tendency to drive your car hard, either on track or on the street.

Cross braces are sometimes added to subframes for even more support, which lay across the subframe connector at a 90 degree perpendicular angle.

There are several aftermarket companies that manufacture subframe connectors, but from our experience, they are mostly made of solid heavy steel and not always a perfect match to your car. In one instance with a company we won't name here, the subframes we received didn't fit our 2000 GT correctly. If those had been welded into place, it could have caused doors to not latch properly, convertible top to not fit correctly, etc. Granted it could have been variances in our car, and every car can be different especially if it's ever expereinced an accident, or other possible frame problems. But do you want to risk your car being the one that was slightly off factory specs? Which is exactly why we're bringing you this review of Custom Performance.

Custom-built subframes by Custom Performance
In a recent discussion with Dale Sciranko, owner of Custom Performance, in Concord, NC, we were informed that he builds and installs his own customized version of subframe connectors and the cross braces. Dale explained how his were different from the other brands on the market and their benefit over the typical subframe connector install. We agreed with all of his points and were so interested, we decided to do the install on our Project Firestorm, our 2000 GT convertible.
Subframe connector assembly before installation Measuring for precise placement of assembly

Here are some key points to Custom Performance subframe connectors:

  • Overall weight added: only 32lbs for full length subframes, crossbraces, and jacking rails! Other brands add more than that just for the connectors alone. The connectors are hollow but very rigid which reduces weight while giving the same performance benefit.
  • The hollow steel also provides an excellent place to run cables and lines thru it to protect against damage you might encounter under the car. This allows the perfect opportunity to run brake lines, wiring, nitrous lines, cables, etc without tearing apart your interior.
  • Stiffens up the chassis for a better all around performance machine. Great for that visit to the track, or even for spirited street drivers, which all of us are from time to time.
  • Optional jacking rails provide several places under the car to jack for faster & easier access to service your Mustang. (Described in more detail below.)
  • Very impressive metal work under the car. Everything is welded together before install and then welded into place on the car. This makes for an attractive well-built assembly.
  • Extra stability added to the lower portion of the sides of the car in case of a side impact crash. Adding rigidity to the frame of the car is always a safety benefit as well as a performance one. We recently witnessed a dragstrip accident involving 2 fox body Mustangs where the nose of one car plowed straight into the passenger side of the other car. The one that received the hit, showed extensive damage to the lower passenger door that could have been lessened with this subframe setup.
COST Breakdown:
Any modification such as this that requires welding isn't just pocket change. There is labor intensive work required by the shop for any subframe installation. But for what we received, we were delighted to pay the bill when it was due!
  • Subframe Connectors (full-length): $135 parts, $135 labor
  • Crossbraces plus install: $80 parts, $120 labor
  • Jacking Rails plus install: $40 parts, $60 labor
  • Grand Total for our setup: $570
Installation Notes:
Custom Performance did all the welding to install these parts. They are custom fit to each car so they must be welded while the car is at their NC shop. The install required them have the car for 2 full days to perform all the work we wanted. We had the subframe connectors, crossbraces, and the jacking rails installed for the best combination on our project car.

One of the key points to installing any subframe connector, is having the car properly lifted off the ground during the initial measurements. The car must be resting in a position that imitates it's stance as if it were sitting on all 4 wheels. As you can see in the photos, the proper way to do this is to set the rear axle on jackstands, and the front A-arms on stands which sets the car as close as possible to a true stance. This could also be accomplished on a lift that allows the cars to rest on it's wheels.
Firestorm on Jackstands Testfitting the connectors

Since our convertible came with the lousy factory connectors in place, those were ditched right away. They are flimsy and provide no real support for the car when under heavy stress. The new Custom Performance connectors were test-fitted in place before being removed to be assembled with the jacking rails. Everything is welded off the car so that a nice tidy weld can be created for the ultimate clean look. Black paint is applied to the parts to prevent rust. Once the assembly is finished and cooled, it is then mounted to the undercarriage of the car and welded into place. This ensures that the car is firmly attached to the connectors and no flexing can occur. The crossbraces are also tied to the seat frames from under the car for even more lateral support.
Crossbraces bolted in Testfitting the assembly before welding

Jacking Rails:
We also opted to get the jacking rails installed at the same time. These are the shorter bars you see attached to the assembly above. These rails provide an easy access place to jack your car from many different points. They are welded into the subframe assembly and securely mounted for safe jacking. Jacking up the car is now a breeze and we don't have to worry about damaging the stock jacking location anymore. As much as we get under the car for oil changes, part installs, and even for cleaning purposes, this has saved us a lot of time. We definitely recommend the jacking rails if you get the other items done. It's only a $100 more and well worth the addition.
Welding on the lift Completed assembly on the car
Jacking on the new jacking rails hollow metal subframe connectors

We were absolutely amazed at the quality of construction. We were skeptical at first on how this could assist our convertible but now that they are installed, the difference is amazing. The car doesn't flex going over driveway entrances, it doesn't squeak and moan over angled corners or turns where all 4 wheels aren't flat. And the performance of the car has noticeably increased in hard cornering. In drag racing, under full throttle, there is no tendency for the car to twist from the horsepower forces (especially if you are using slicks). Those are forces that over time, can cause the car to have permanent issues with body panel alignment and chassis weakening. We are now comfortable driving the car hard with no worries in that department. It is also comforting to know there is extra strength in the framework of the car in the event of an accident. This is always a great comment to add when trying to sell your car as well.

If you'd like to consult with Custom Performance to have this done to your Mustang, feel free to call them at 704-454-5220. Or you can email them directly at sales@gofastfords.com. They also have a website for any more information. Click HERE to go to their webpage.

If you have any questions about this article, email questions@yellowmustangregistry.com.

Written by: Steve Shrader, YMR

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