Drifting the MN12: A Guide to Slide

Wile E. Coyote

3rd Gear Poster
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Sep 21, 2023
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NJ
Vehicle Details
1996 Tbird LX, SVO blown 4.6 // 1990 Tbird SC Drift missile, OHV 5.0
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As these cars get more popular for drifting, I will be sharing the knowledge I have gained over my seasons with Club Loose. This is by no means is a guide on how to drive or how to build the car. This is so you can be ready with a predictable car when you hit the track for the first time.

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Here is my list of necessities, tips, and parts for drifting one of these cars.

Part 1: Preparation.

Picking your MN12:

When buying the vehicle, make sure to perform inspections of structural areas. This not only includes rust, but stress cracks as well.
Cracks:
Areas to inspect include the trunk/rear seat pan in front of the rear wheel, the firewall, and ends of the transmission tunnel. These can be fixed with a welder and basic knowledge.
Rust:
Some rust will not affect the vehicles performance, but excessive rust can be extremely dangerous and affect the cars handling. Areas to inspect include the upper rear shock mounts, the front/rear torque boxes, and front upper frame rail. Excessive rust in the rockers may cause the floor pans to become separated as well.
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If the unit is in decent shape, or you decide it is fixable to your ability, congratulations! You now have a chassis to build on.

Step 1, suspension:

You are going to be thrashing this car, so going out on 30y/o bushings and ball joints is a less-than-smart idea.
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The front suspension is fairly easy to rebuild as all arms and bushings are available, not requiring a press.

The rear suspension however will be an indepth process, requiring all components to be removed, bushings pressed out. Stock replacement bushings will be fine at this time.
GET THE CORRECT REAR UCA BUSHING!
The inner rear UCA bushing control camber adjustment. The only OEM quality bushing is the Delphi TD4920W. Don't cheap out here!!

**This time would be fantastic to upgrade your shocks and springs. Parts are listed here:
  • Rear shocks: Bilstein 24-185974
  • Front coilovers: MaxSpeedingrods 3002049705 (spring rate: 784lb/in)
***Good areas to upgrade the bushings are the differential front mount, the frame side strut rod bushings, and rear knuckles. Links to those parts are listed here:
  • Frame side Strut Rod Bushings: Ultra Power K8659
  • Rear Knuckle bushing kit: Energy Suspension 43163G
  • Differential Bushings: Energy Suspension 4.1126G

Step two, brakes:

Brakes are very important when it comes to drifting. Obviously, they stop the car if things go wrong. But they are also used during your run, while on throttle, to help control your line and speed. This becomes extremely important while in a tandem.

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INSPECT YOUR LINES. Rusted lines or damaged hydraulic hoses can be the cause for a major wreck. It is cheap insurance to replace them for peace of mind.

Though I recommend upgrading to 99-04 Mustang GT PBR calipers, upgraded pads and rotors will suffice on stock parts. EBC, Bendix, Stop Tech, and R1 Concepts have brake kits that will be perfect for this style of driving.

I.E. My vehicle has PBR calipers with EBC blue pads up front, and stock calipers with Bendix Fleet metallics in the rear. The car stops predictably, every time, and has had zero fade with amazingly short stopping distances.

For Hydraulic Hand brakes: Disable or delete your ABS. Ripping a handbrake with ABS enabled will cause damage to your ABS system. It may also cause the vehicle to become uncontrollable once the Hydro is released.

Step three, cooling system:

Overheating issues will ruin a track day very quickly. Flush the cooling system, install a lower temp thermostat, and install an external transmission cooler if you are running an automatic.


Step four, wheels and tires:

It's a common misconception that drift cars run the cheapest, shittiest tires they can find. It's actually quite opposite. When drifting, you are putting your car on the edge of its capabilities and holding it there. You are controlling the car, not the car controlling you. If you need it to grip up at a moments notice, it should be able to do so.

FRONTS: These tires should be the grippiest you can find. 240TW or lower. I recommend Falken 615s to start with. They are a very common front tire choice in the sport.

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REARS: This is where the balancing act starts. You don't want your rears to be grease balls, but you don't want them to be grippier than the fronts. If starting with a stock level 4.6 or SC 3.8, IronMan G2s are a good choice. They offer long life, good grip, and have a balanced feel while sliding at your power level (200ish HP).
Same tires can be used with NA V6s but you will have to bump up the PSI.



If you are in the 350-400HP realm, Valinos, Kendas, Cosmos, and other 300TW tires will be a good match.

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**The brands I listed have been popular choices and are shown to not Delaminate over multiple hot laps**
 
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