• Jun 22, 2009



It seems that any discussion about a modern Ford Mustang inevitably turns into a debate about its solid rear axle. While Ford has done an incredible job of optimizing the pony car's suspension, many still find it unacceptable that such an antiquated technology is used on a modern day performance car. Motor Trend boss Angus MacKenzie, however, says that the S197 Mustang platform almost received an independent rear suspension a while back – and for a lot less than you might think.


According to MacKenzie, the 2005 Mustang was set to get an independent suspension shared with the BA-series Falcon sedan built in Australia. Even when it was decided that the two cars would use different platforms, Ford designers set about designing an independent suspension specific to the Mustang. So why did it still end up with a solid rear axle? According to MacKenzie, product development executive Phil Martens convinced Bill Ford Jr. that they could save $100 per car if they dropped the IRS and went with the solid axle. For all of you non drag-racing types that wish the Mustang had an independently suspended rear, this news probably makes you sick to the stomach.

But wait... there's more! MacKenzie's sources say that the cost of sorting out the current Mustang's suspension actually cost $98 more per car than the IRS that could have gone in the car. Like Angus, we love the current Mustang but have to wonder if it could have been that much better.


[Source: Motor Trend]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 115 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      It seems that Angus is obsessed with Ford ( and not in a positive way) since they turned him down for a head to head with the Hyundai. Given Motor Trends obvious bias over the years against Ford this is not a surprise. Read the comparison between the Accord,Camary, and the Fusion a couple years back. The Fusion did'nt win because they did'nt like the color of the dash lighting, or the feel of the plastic. Angus, try turning your obsession on Toyota for a change, or keeping you magazine solvent.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Jim, you said

      "Irrelevant, kitko. the rear wheels on those cars are non-driven"


      Mazdas RX-8 or MX-5 are RWD and DO HAVE independent rear suspension.

      Mazdaspeed 6 is 4x4 and it has independent rear suspension.

      Subaru Legacy is 4x4 and it has independent rear suspension.

      Mid 90's Mitsubishi Galant was 4x4 and 4WS, all wheels steered, and it had the indepentent rear suspension.

      Grow up and admit it. The rear on Mustang is a piece of crap.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just a couple of considerations:
      1) Meeting projected costs is a dreaded aspect of car manufacturing, because every one involved would like it to be a little better in many different ways, but there is always a ceiling that may not be broken. You might think $100 per car is a cheap price to pay, unfortunately figures have a totally different scale in the manufacturer's eyes: they go hunting even for 50cents. Sometimes these compromises are what let the car hit the road altogether!

      2) Post service and warranty are a complex matter, and they can be made profitable in ways you wouldn't think. For instance a 5-year warranty doesn't necessarily mean the manufacturer's products are "better" or more "reliable". In fact a 5-year warranty politic will allow for the production of more pieces for all those spare parts in advance, which in turn will drop the variable costs thus cutting the impact of investments for a new model. Or on the other hand it will allow for the use of more complex and advanced processing procedures which will deliver either more perceived quality to the customer or cost reduction, again.

      I really don't think the Mustang could have been different. There is definitely an amount of "human factor" here, but $100 per car is a huge amount (it may take months of hard work for a whole company to cut $300 out of a product!!!), and it is unrealistic to think the independent suspension was an option.
      You can blame this on Ford's lack of capability of fitting everything in for (much) less, but then again, everyone is struggling with increasing costs, and decreasing purchasing power!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Probably smarter to go with the live axle instead of the IRS due to warranty issues and part failures.

      More parts on the IRS then a live axle setup would eventually save them even more money in the future.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The reason some are saying warranty issues is because they know what happened with the Cobras that had IRS. Because we ACTUALLY drag race Cobras. So don't reference your fancy Mazdas, Nissans and Taxi cabs of Australia with IRS. That is hardly ware and tear on an IRS.

        Compare apples to apples. We'll see how the Camaros and Challengers do on the drag strip when someone mounts some really stick tires to them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Until you realize that people would have to replace all those parts out of warranty at a hefty retail price.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It seems to be clear that most people think the Mustang should have received an IRS setup in the last generation version of the Mustang. It is about time that Ford "grow-up" the Mustang and continue to refine it.

        OK, no I don't expect it to be as refined as the Corvette, but the Mustang just keeps getting bigger and more expensive. Ford should be thinking about introducing a mid-size ponycar-like coupe in the near future if refining the Mustang is going to be tough.
        • 5 Years Ago
        seriously people... the mustang's spotlight is drag. the point of the car was always spos to be a simple V8 to a simply axle for cheap.

        if you ask me, the rest of the muscle cars should have a live as well.

        i drive my mustang everywhere, and guess what, the live axle is just fine. For average driving it isn't a big deal, so why is this always a complaint on review sites? MORE people drag than road course with mustangs, so ford panders to the correct crowd.

        the mustang isn't a refined sports car, its a messy muscle car... and it should stay that way. I love the track pack, but again, its an option, its not standard.

        besides, if you are going to take your live axle mustang to the track? im sure there wont be a ton of pot holes all over the raceway.

        I'm tired of this joke of a debate, the car is a great car, dont bash the live axle.

        its like me complaining that i bought a corvette, and i cant put my kid in the back seat, well... maybe the corvette isnt spos to have a back seat. thats not the point of it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I am sure Ford could deal with a possible problem like you describe and keep the costs down. Maybe the US engineers should of gone to Ford Europe, Mazda or even Jaguar for help if there not sure how.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Bobby...all the cars you listed are front wheel drive, not rear wheel drive. Consider your point moot.

        PJ...the Mustang platform was ORIGINALLY going to be a heavily modified version of the DEW98, however, the price point was too high, so the D2C platform was developed. This is very, very loosely based on the DEW98, however, the only thing retained from the DEW98, according to Wikipedia, were "...the floor pans, portions of the transmission tunnel, the front frame rails, and basic fuel tank design."
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, because nobody has ever made a car with an independent suspension without getting slaughtered by warranty costs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agreed, the IRS would of been a warranty nightmare.

        • 5 Years Ago
        The Mustang's S197 platform is a modified version of the DEW98 platform that underpinned the '99-'08 Jaguar S-Type, '00-'06 Lincoln LS, and '02-'05 Ford Thunderbird, all of which used independent rear suspension. If anyone's aware of any of those cars having IRS-related reliability issues, it'd be news to me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Warranty issues? You were joking when you typed that, right? Most taxis in Australia are BA/BF Falcons and theres no problems with IRS there. For just $100? Who made that decision needs a good arse kicking. Think you guys need to have a drive of Falcon and see how good things could've been lol. Forget the "G8".
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, we should also go back to carbs, leaf springs and mechanical brakes without ABS just so there aren't warranty issues. That's a ridiculous reason for not having an IRS. It's not like it's new-fangled technology. If some mullet boy really wanted to turn his 'Stang into a drag racer, I'm sure he/she could get a bolt on live-axle via the aftermarket or Ford. Passing up an IRS for $100? FAIL!!....
        • 5 Years Ago
        i hate to start this fight but the only cars i've seen metioned on this debate with IRS problems are USA made..... let the yelling begin
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like my solid axle just fine and I'm not all about drag racing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      O my...

      $100 really that much in a new car? But then again warranty costs of dragster creaming their suspensions may increase. Still...
      • 5 Years Ago
      You're comparing cars with a $15k difference in base price??? Wow
      • 5 Years Ago
      Guys, the whole "warranty" story is a canard. I guess you don't realize that racing a car pretty much automatically voids the warranty anyway; this goes for most all manufacturers. Take Subaru, who was actually giving out SCCA memberships with WRX purchases, but denying warranty claims if you actually, you know, *used* that membership.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Jim, the statement about racing and voiding warranties isn't 100% correct, and here is why. Take the 2007-2009 GT500s. Ford issued a TSB (technical service bullitin) on the transmission. Some owners were blowing clutches out with normal driving and one case, the lady blew a clutch out from driving in 1 parade!! (and before you ask, no the clutches were not being rode). The issue was that the flywheel was too small and it was warping from normal use and warped even more from drag strip passes. SVT knows what the car is meant for, and what at least 60% of owners do with this vehicle (which is drag race it). So Ford issued the TSB which included a new clutch, new updated flywheel, and a trans kit (the cars weren't able to be shifted into 1st gear if the car was running while in neutral. Had to start in 1st then start the car). Ford issued it and covered EVERY CAR!!! Even the TSB stated that minor modifications were allowed!!! Never have I seen this, where the manufacturer allows aftermarket mods to a car and still have a TSB done to it. SVT stood by their product and didn't want to loose their core fan base.

        About this? I'm glad my 2006 GT has a LRA. It pulls like a truck out of the shoot and is fun to drive down the 1/4 mile. While I only do this a few times a year, its still fun and it runs consistantly low 13-second times (only got longtubes and a reflash). And I know I'll never have any broken parts from a burnout or from stopping on the car if I want to. My friend in his new 2008 SRT8 Challenger, already broke the rear half-shaft when he did a burnout, and his car only had 3000 miles or so on it. So IRS isn't the super-duper savior for the Mustang.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Simple. Go Modern or Go Home. In that case by following logic that is why the big three are in the sad shape they are in. antiquated technology that the ignorant and arrogant American consumer refuses to give up on. That is also why Europe and Asia are kicking ass right now.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Is that why Toyota is trailing Ford in the recent JDM Initial Quality Survey, as well as other quality surveys, and is losing considerably more cash annually? They must be using some really antiquated designs, like wooden wheels.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's funny how everyone bashing the Mustang for not having IRS would have never bought a Mustang in the first place, you guys are just nagging window shoppers.. Why waist time trashing the car when you were never the targeted customer.Sure there are pros and cons to both systems but the Live axle was the perfect marriage to the Mustang end of story....
        • 5 Years Ago
        You just gave a perfect example of not being the "targeted mustang customer" just the fact that you stated that if the Mustang had IRS it would be on your "consideration list" which pretty much leaves your options open to other cars proves my point that you are just window shopping. The majority of the people that actually bought the Mustang didn't cross shop. Even if it had IRS you would only consider the Mustang and not right out buy it so just another example of Ford did their homework. Remember back when everyone and their mother wanted a Holden? What happen when GM brought it here as the GTO??? where were all the people lined up to buy one??

        From what I read you want an upscale Mustang in the Form of a Merc which is light as a Miata with an expensive suspension like the Multi link the Challenger has with a trunk space of a Ford Crown Vic, awd like the Subaru's and priced like a Genesis coupe? lol you sound like my girl when I take her shopping will nik pick the F out of everything...
      • 5 Years Ago
      thats why people are buying import cars more and more
      because americans car companies are retarded
      even tho ford is still doing fine
      • 5 Years Ago
      jcar302
      7:49PM (6/22/2009)
      To those of you that think there are no warranty issues with irs's.
      Read through some forums on different cars, 03/04 cobra's, older cadillac CTS v's for sure, even corvettes all have IRS problems.

      They just aren't reliable in a 4000lb car that is going to get the crap beat out of it.

      ------------------------

      As the norm you know nothing about even the basics of American cars,
      Corvette has had very little problems with the IRS for over 50 years.
      Street or on the track and was one of the first street production sportscars to pull over 1 G in corners.

        • 5 Years Ago
        The new Mustang is also about 300 or more pounds LIGHTER than both cars, thus giving it a huge edge in cornering ability.
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