Tech: Terminator K-member Install

0 Terminator Front Suspesnion Featured

Vitamin K

Lightening the front of an ’03-’04 Cobra with a tubular K-member

By Steve Turner
Photos by Jeff Smith, Steve Turner, and courtesy of Maximum Motorsports

Born with 390 supercharged horsepower and easily upgradable to more, the 2003-2004 Mustang Cobra was a paradox. The Terminator offered the brute force of that supercharged Four-Valve 4.6, but paired it with an independent rear suspension. A fast car for sure, but not the lightest of the New Edge breed.

Jeff Smith races his Comp Orange 2004 Cobra at every stick-shift event he can attend, and he was looking to add an edge to his 10-second street/strip racer. Shaving weight off the nose of his Terminator was the goal.
Jeff Smith races his VMP-supercharged, Comp Orange 2004 Cobra at every stick-shift event he can attend, and he was looking to add an edge to his 10-second street/strip racer. Shaving weight off the nose of his Terminator was the goal.

Jeff Smith loves to drag race his VMP Tuning-supercharged Competition Orange Terminator. He’s particularly fond of running at events geared toward manual transmission vehicles. Of course, like any drag racer, he’s always looking for an edge, and he decided it was time to trim some weight with a K-member kit from Maximum Motorsports’ (PN MMKMP-26; $1,746.01).

“I decided to install the Maximum Motorsports unit because of their reputation for quality and my past experience with the company’s products,” Jeff said. “I picked the K-member system to save weight to try and remain competitive in the stick-shift events that I attend.”

Jeff’s latest upgrade was a Maximum Motorsports K-member Package for 1996-2004 Mustang (PN MMKMP-26; $1,746.01). This kit includes a K-member, front control arms, front coilover conversion kit, aluminum steering rack bushings, caster/camber plates, adjustable tie-rod ends, a two-point K-member brace, urethane front sway bar bushings, and shorter sway bar end-links.
Jeff’s latest upgrade was a Maximum Motorsports K-member Package for 1996-2004 Mustang (PN MMKMP-26; $1,746.01). This kit includes a K-member, front control arms, front coilover conversion kit, aluminum steering rack bushings, caster/camber plates, adjustable tie-rod ends, a two-point K-member brace, urethane front sway bar bushings, and shorter sway bar end-links.

Weighing in at about 36 pounds, this tubular unit is robust, while still offering about a 28-percent weight reduction over the factory K-member. It also lengthens the wheelbase by ¾ of an inch and improves the geometry of the steering rack, frees up header clearance, and more.

To augment his car with this upgrade, Jeff turned to a friend, Kurtis Forsberg, who installed it in a home garage. So if you have some mechanical acumen and you follow the instructions, it’s definitely possible to install the Maximum K-member yourself. Not only will you shave off some pounds and enhance your Terminator’s performance, but the car will still be completely streetable.

Installing the Maximum K-member in your 2003-2004 Cobra does require making a little extra room be relocating the oil filter. Fortunately the company offers this companion Oil Filter Relocation Kit for 2003-2004 Cobra, Severe Duty (PN OC-7; $329.97). The kit includes all the necessary adapters, brackets, hoses and fittings to get the job done.
Installing the Maximum K-member in your 2003-2004 Cobra does require making a little extra room be relocating the oil filter. Fortunately the company offers this companion Oil Filter Relocation Kit for 2003-2004 Cobra, Severe Duty (PN OC-7; $329.97). The kit includes all the necessary adapters, brackets, hoses and fittings to get the job done.

“The car rides surprisingly smooth. I was always under the impression a K-member and coilovers caused a rough ride, but I am extremely pleased.” Jeff added. “I raced immediately after the installation and made it to the semi finals in Lakeland’s monthly stick-shift event.”

He was kind enough to snap some photos so we could detail the highlights of the installation, so you can follow along.

If you are going to swap K-members, you will need some way to keep the engine in place while you remove all the under bits that keep it in place. Jeff’s pal Kurtis Forsberg used this engine support beam to secure the Four-Valve 4.6 during the swap.
If you are going to swap K-members, you will need some way to keep the engine in place while you remove all the under bits that keep it in place. Jeff’s pal Kurtis Forsberg used this engine support beam to secure the Four-Valve 4.6 during the swap.
Here’s a look at the stock K-member setup and the factory location of the oil filter.
Here’s a look at the stock K-member setup and the factory location of the oil filter.
After removing the steering rack and supporting it with tie straps, Kurtis disconnected the brakes, struts, and the K-member fasteners, and slowly lowered the entire subframe out of the car with a floor jack.
After removing the steering rack and supporting it with tie straps, Kurtis disconnected the brakes, struts, and the K-member fasteners, and slowly lowered the entire subframe out of the car with a floor jack.
A typical stock K-member weighs in at about 50 pounds, while the Maximum unit only tips the scales at 36 pounds. By installing the complete package with the coilovers and tubular A-arms, the complete kit is said to offer a 40-pound savings over the factory gear. With the stock K-member out of the way, it was a good time to remove the factory filter and catch the spilled oil in in a drain pan.
A typical stock K-member weighs in at about 50 pounds, while the Maximum unit only tips the scales at 36 pounds. By installing the complete package with the coilovers and tubular A-arms, the complete kit is said to offer a 40-pound savings over the factory gear. With the stock K-member out of the way, it was a good time to remove the factory filter and catch the spilled oil in a drain pan.
If you are familiar with Jeff’s Terminator, he affectionately named his Comp Orange Cobra “The Pumpkin.” With that in mind he wanted his new K-member to carry the orange theme under the car, so he opted for a custom orange coating.
If you are familiar with Jeff’s Terminator, he affectionately named his Comp Orange Cobra “The Pumpkin.” With that in mind he wanted his new K-member to carry the orange theme under the car, so he opted for a custom orange coating.
Yup, the tubular A-arms are orange too. We’re not sure if orange is the fastest color, but the setup certainly looks sharp on The Pumpkin. Kurtis bolted up the K-member and A-arms as an assembly. Then he reinstalled the steering rack and bolted on the Maximum K-member brace. The process of aligning the rack with plumb bobs—and every other facet of the installation—is covered fastidiously in the kit’s directions.
Yup, the tubular A-arms are orange too. We’re not sure if orange is the fastest color, but the setup certainly looks sharp on The Pumpkin. Kurtis bolted up the K-member and A-arms as an assembly. Then he reinstalled the steering rack and bolted on the Maximum K-member brace. The process of aligning the rack with plumb bobs—and every other facet of the installation—is covered fastidiously in the kit’s directions.
Next Kurtis installed the Maximum coilover conversion kit on Jeff’s struts and bolted them into place.
Next Kurtis installed the Maximum coilover conversion kit on Jeff’s struts and bolted them into place.
Securing those struts at the top of the shock towers is a pair of Maximum’s vaunted caster/camber plates.
Securing those struts at the top of the shock towers is a pair of Maximum’s vaunted caster/camber plates.
Not part of the kit but recommended to augment the installation is Maximum’s solid steering shaft. This unit not only provides additional clearance, but it sharpens the steering response by replacing the factory unit’s rag joint arrangement with a solid shaft. Since the rag joints will fail over time, adding the shaft is also go preventive maintenance.
Not part of the kit but recommended to augment the installation is Maximum’s solid steering shaft. This unit not only provides additional clearance, but it sharpens the steering response by replacing the factory unit’s rag joint arrangement with a solid shaft. Since the rag joints will fail over time, adding the shaft is also go preventive maintenance.
As we said, the Maximum K-member’s fitment means that you must relocate the factory oil filter to a remote location on the frame. The company’s relocation kit not part of the K-member kit, but it is required. It moves the filter away from the engine and mounts it to the driver side of the bumper support, which will actually make for tidier oil changes since the filter’s oil won’t spill all over the K-member at each change interval.
As we said, the Maximum K-member’s fitment means that you must relocate the factory oil filter to a remote location on the frame. The company’s relocation kit not part of the K-member kit, but it is required. It moves the filter away from the engine and mounts it to the driver side of the bumper support, which will actually make for tidier oil changes since the filter’s oil won’t spill all over the K-member at each change interval. Because this location was near his foglight, Jeff bent the bracket slightly, mounted it near the windshield washer reservoir, and shortened the lines by one inch to gain some additional clearance.
Here’s the completed installation, which Kurtis performed over the course of two days in his home garage. The front of Jeff’s Cobra is not only lighter, but it now features better geometry, and it looks pretty great in orange too.
Here’s the completed installation, which Kurtis performed over the course of two days in his home garage. The front of Jeff’s Cobra is not only lighter, but it now features better geometry, and it looks pretty great in orange too.
Jeff didn’t waste any time getting back to the drag strip. He hit a local stick-shift race at the eighth-mile track in Lakeland, Florida, and made it to the semi-finals.
Jeff didn’t waste any time getting back to the drag strip. He hit a local stick-shift race at the eighth-mile track in Lakeland, Florida, and made it to the semi-finals.

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply

2,367 views