DiMora's Whiteline Watts Link Install Thread - Forums at Modded Mustangs
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post #1 of 43 Old February 26th, 2013, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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DiMora's Whiteline Watts Link Install Thread

This thread will cover the installation of the Whiteline Watts Link.

It's a long post, because that's how I roll, so grab a beer.

First things first.

I have already driven the car with this thing installed. It is awesome. Epic mod! My car is heavily modded, and this is one of my three favorite mods now up there with my supercharger and big brakes.

The best way for me to describe the difference is the rear end is now "plush" and stable. I think I have simply gotten used to the gentle steering corrections that are (were) necessary whenever you hit a bump with the rear tires.

Anyone who has studied how a panhard bar works knows that when the rear axle travels up and down, the panhard bar rear axle connection point travels in an arc, which means your rear axle is constantly shifting laterally just a little bit with every bump. The watts link eliminates that lateral movement, and trust me when I say you can really feel the difference.

The second thing is the ride is smoother. I have to assume that it is because the watts link is allowing the axle to articulate vertically with less restriction than it could with the panhard bar. The car, in all honesty, no longer feels like a solid rear axle car. It feels like it has independent rear suspension.

Lateral "slalom" moves are sure, precise, and accurate. Quick shimmies of the steering wheel hammered my lats back and forth against the side bolsters. The whole car is tight and responsive now.

A quick note that my car already had $3,000 worth of Steeda suspension upgrades on it. It already had "world class" handling, but this just raised it up to the top level. Supporting mods I already run:

• 555-8215 - Steeda Sport Springs
• 555-1050 - Steeda Front Adj. Sway Bar –
• 555-8113 - Steeda Billet Swaybar Mount
• 555-1054 - Steeda Comp Rear Swaybar with Endlinks
• 555-5726 - Billet Strut Tower Brace
• 555-8116 - Steeda Front Control Arm Relocation Kit
• 555-8106 - Steeda Bumpsteer Kit
• 555-8120 - Steeda Heavy Duty Upper Strut Mounts
• 555-4105 - Steeda Adj. Upper 3rd Link
• 555-4405 - Steeda Billet Rear Control Arms
• 555-2551 - Steeda Adj. Chrome-Moly Panhard Bar
• 555-2555 - Steeda Chrome-Moly Panhard Bar Brace
• 555-8119 - Steeda Lwr Trlng Arm Relocation Brackets
• 555-4436 - Steeda Axle End Upr 3rd Link Bushing Kit
• 555-5530 - Steeda G-Trac Brace
• 578-DSP-12 - Tokico D Spec shocks / struts

Here we go.

Arrival packaging:



What's in the box:



Hardware:





There were no directions in the box, so I printed my own from Whiteline's website:



My rear end setup before the install started:







Safety first. Metal and grit in your eyes is no fun. Trust me. Ever heard of an eye drill? They exist. Protect those peepers people!



My assistant Andrew:



First, I loosened and dropped my Steeda swaybar billet end-links:



Next, I removed my Steeda panhard bar and panhard bar brace:



Then I unbolted my Scott Drake differential cover bolts and tightened the main bearing cap load support bolts to pull the cover off the differential housing, which broke the RTV seal and allowed the fluid to drain out:



Next, I installed the Whiteline main bearing cap load support bolts into the cover. Screw these in as far as they will go!:



Then I bolted the cover onto the diff housing. I used some 1 minute gasket maker. Worked great! The diff gets 20 LB-FT and the bearing load cap bolts get 5 LB-FT:





I then filled the diff with fluid through the top hole. I filled it until it poured out the factory fill hole at the REAR of the axle housing, then I plugged the OEM hole and added some more through the top hole in the Whiteline cover so that the diff has a bit more fluid. See the pic of my fill bottle above...that short hose works better than anything else I have used.

After that, I re-located the fuel tank vent line and a wiring harness, adding a Whiteline-supplied vinyl clamp and some zip-ties. You remove and discard one plastic clip, and turn the second one. I clipped off the now un-needed plastic push-pin mount plastic from the second one. All I left was enough to hold the two lines together, like this:



Next, I installed the main brace assembly after greasing the center pivot (some call it a propeller) and pushing it onto the brace. The Whiteline instructions say all 5 bolts that hold the brace to the diff cover get 60 LB-FT, with a dab of Lok-Tite. I did the four main (long) bolts first, then finished with the short (center-left) bolt. As I torqued, it kept spinning. STRIPPED. Damn. Fuuuuuddddggggggeeeee as Ralphie would say. Double checked my recently calibrated top-of-the-line Snap-On torque wrench. Still set precisely to 60 LB-ft. What the? So..I removed that stubby little bolt. Sure enough...aluminum threads came out of the hole. Stripping confirmed. My experience wrenching tells me that 60 LB-FT is likely too much torque for a bolt that short (not enough thread depth on the aluminum diff side to handle that value). My assessment? Bad instructions (too big a torque value). Oh well...I figured I'd call Whiteline first thing this week to seek remedy. If worse came to worse, I was going to drill out the main brace at that hole and tap the hole for a bolt the next size up, but Whiteline stepped up and they are going to send me a brand new differential cover. They said I am the second person to report stripping that bolt, so there is an issue there for sure. They are also going to contact engineering to confirm (or revise) the torque value for that bolt. I will install the new cover when it arrives and use less torque on that particular bolt.

I don't have a pic of just the support brace installed...I was a bit distracted (and frustrated) after that center bolt stripped, and picture priorities were forgotten for a moment. Fuuuudddgggeeee! But installation pressed on anyway. I figured that stubby bolt doesn't do much anyway.

Next, I installed the driver's side drop bracket and torqued the bolts to 46 LB-FT. You need a U-joint and medium length extension to access these bolts with your torque-wrench:

Below my Steeda panhard bar brace at the top of this pic, you can see the Whiteline drop bracket and the lateral brace that bolts to it:



Bolting to driver's side in the holes formerly occupied by the panhard bar brace:



Next, I installed the lateral chassis support brace (also sometimes called a panhard bar brace). I had to modify the passenger side end tubing because the beveled edge stuck out so far my Steeda sway bar end links hit it:





From there, you simply grease the ends of the adjustable length arms, and install them. Simple, huh?

Well....

Time for my next problem. The Whiteline instructions say to "Torque brace and then the arms on driver side mount and chassis to 129 ft. lbs. Tighten bolts on drop bracket side of brace to 46 ft lbs". OK, the 46 FT-LB where the brace mounts to the drop bracket is easy. But let me share this tidbit that is missing from the instructions: The flag-bolt and nut that runs through the passenger side adjustable length Watts arm end busing (and it also runs through a tab welded onto the support brace GETS 98 LB-FT! Can you guess what happens if you (try to) give it 129 LB-FT? It snaps and is loud as #*&!%!!!. So... that necessitated a trip to Advance Auto to get a Grade 10 replacement (and ordering fresh dealer hardware (flag bolt and nut) from my local Ford $tealer for about $15.00. Oh well. See the brass colored bot that goes through the Watts link bushing? That is the one I snapped that gets 98 LB -FT!:



After that was all bolted up, I installed the adjustable arms with their pivot retainers and washers and torqued them to 55 LB-FT. I re-installed the sway bar and torqued the ends to 85 LB-FT per my Steeda swaybar instructions:



Then you lower the car and "exercise" the suspension. I popped the trunk and then pushed on the trunk opening edge to bounce the car up and down.

From there, you measure and adjust everything. The instructions on how to adjust are not real easy to understand, but I used my common sense to figure it out. I had an initial miscalculation due to not having a flat rim surface to reference (I solved this by cutting a 19" diameter circle out of 1/2" MDF, then using a 2' level and a metal metric ruler to calculate millimeters to each fender. I had a helmet fire trying to figure out why I had so much more clearance on the inside of my rims vs. the other side - it was due to a measuring error before I cut the big MDF circle and also due to varying thickness in the Ford factory applied wheel well undercoating. In short, you determine what your measurement is on each side. Subtract the big number from the small number. That number is the amount you need to shift. You cut that number in half. Then cut it in half AGAIN, since one turn of the adjustable rod moves BOTH ends at the same time, doubling the value you measure if only looking at ONE end.

Example:



My measuring setup gave me 6MM distance on the left, and 15MM on the right.
That is a difference of 9MM. You cut that value in half to reach equidistant on both arms. Each arm needs to move 4.5MM. (Math check: 6+4.5 = 10.5. 15-4.5 = 10.5. Winning.)
Common sense dictates the AXLE needs to shift toward the left (driver's side).
So...I needed to SHORTEN the driver's side arm 4.5MM and LENGTHEN the passenger side arm 4.5MM.
You cut that value in half if measuring at ONE of the threaded joints (since BOTH move when you twist the shaft; one ind of each is reverse threaded!).
So, I measured a change of 2.25MM on the left arm joint closest to the pivot (shorter) and 2.25MM on the right arm joint closest to the pivot.

Obviously you have to raise the car to adjust it, then lower it back down to re-measure. Use jack-stands every time so you don't get crushed by the car!

Done! Time for a beer.

I'll put the new cover on when it shows up and report back. Until then, I am driving it. As stated, I don't think that stubby bolt provides much support anyway.

My Steeda take-off adjustable panhard bar and brace are available in the for-sale section.


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post #2 of 43 Old February 26th, 2013, 11:56 PM
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I hope the arms are the same length on the Watts link. Lengthening one and shortening the other creates an arc rather than a vertical straight line. You should be able to rotate one of the arms and it should have no trouble spinning with zero preload. I hope you have that ability!

Sorry to hear about the threads and bolt snappage. If it makes you feel any better the Fays2 install instructions are just as crappy too. It sounds a little better, but not by much!



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post #3 of 43 Old February 27th, 2013, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiskey11 View Post
I hope the arms are the same length on the Watts link. Lengthening one and shortening the other creates an arc rather than a vertical straight line. You should be able to rotate one of the arms and it should have no trouble spinning with zero preload. I hope you have that ability!

Sorry to hear about the threads and bolt snappage. If it makes you feel any better the Fays2 install instructions are just as crappy too. It sounds a little better, but not by much!
The exposed threads are virtually identical on each arm.

I kept them as close to the same length as possible on purpose, and I used a level to get the "propeller" perfectly vertical as I initially adjusted them. I'm not sure what you mean about spinning with zero pre-load, but I can tell you that with the jam-nuts loosened, I can spin either arm freely without requiring tools. I can also, if necessary, lengthen one and shorten the other (or vice-versa) without changing the axle location (e.g. only the propeller rotates).

Which do you think is more critical: Arms of identical length, or the propeller vertical?


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post #4 of 43 Old February 27th, 2013, 01:37 AM
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DiMora, always a good how to write up, massive reps for taking the time to do these so others can follow in your footsteps. I didn't read the whole thing just because I'm going the other way with my suspension (you know, the racing that you go in a straight line) but just wanted to comment on how big your little helper is getting. Smart looking kid. I remember seeing him in some of your other threads. It's amazing how fast they grow up.

Edit: Sorry dude, it says I've given you too many reps already.


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post #5 of 43 Old February 27th, 2013, 09:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiMora View Post
The exposed threads are virtually identical on each arm.

I kept them as close to the same length as possible on purpose, and I used a level to get the "propeller" perfectly vertical as I initially adjusted them. I'm not sure what you mean about spinning with zero pre-load, but I can tell you that with the jam-nuts loosened, I can spin either arm freely without requiring tools. I can also, if necessary, lengthen one and shorten the other (or vice-versa) without changing the axle location (e.g. only the propeller rotates).

Which do you think is more critical: Arms of identical length, or the propeller vertical?
Have you ever adjusted the pre-load out of a swaybar before? It's the same procedure. Basically once you get everything installed, loosen the jam nuts on one of the arms. Rotate it in one direction and note the effort it takes to rotate the arm. When the preload is increasing the arm gets harder to spin, when the preload is reaching zero it will reach a point where it basically requires no effort to spin because the arm is basically the same length as the other arm, almost like nothing is preventing it from spinning. Leave it in the position where it's easiest to spin then tighten the jam nuts. I hope that makes sense! =\

As for the direction of the propeller, Jim Fay recommends on his unit the propeller actually point to the 1" o-clock direction and NOT vertical. I'm sure Whiteline has a similar set of directions as to where the propeller should be and you'd be wise to follow the directions. About the only thing it changes though is how soon the watts link moves into the "curved" portion of it's travel at the extremes. The way Jim Fay has you set up his unit makes it so that in compression you'd have to compress the suspension until the axle contacted the frame to see that movement, and yet have PLENTY of droop travel before it starts to move side to side. The Fays2 also uses shorter arms and a taller propeller whereas the Whiteline uses the longer arms and shorter propeller. The end result is probably the same which is why I recommend you use whatever they told you is the best position.

Looking at the pictures of the Whiteline unit, I'm not sure what they recommend, but to accomplish the same the propeller would be in the 11 o-clock position since the arms on the Whiteline unit are reversed from that of the Fays2. Your driver side arm is on the bottom and passenger side on top whereas mine is the opposite.

In my opinion the arm length is the most critical part. Having the arms at different lengths introduces bind into the watts link and can introduce an arc in the movement of the rear axle. It's less of an issue with non-solid bushings like the Whiteline unit has, but with the Fays2 the end result is a bent pivot bolt if done improperly enough since the Fays2 unit uses rod ends and the Whiteline uses "poly". (It's not actually poly I'm told )



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post #6 of 43 Old February 27th, 2013, 09:34 AM
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DiMora's Whiteline Watts Link Install Thread

Wait... So, you broke a $15 bolt by following the instructions, and you bought the new one yourself?


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post #7 of 43 Old February 27th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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post #8 of 43 Old February 27th, 2013, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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Wait... So, you broke a $15 bolt by following the instructions, and you bought the new one yourself?


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Yes...and your point is? Should I put up a big stink with Whiteline over a $15 bolt? They are sending me a new diff cover. I could...but let's go big picture here...This is a $900 part on a car I've got thousands of mod dollars into, so a $15 bolt and the hassle of getting one other than through my local dealer is not a big concern. I blow that amount of money on two drinks in NYC. It's partially my fault for not backing up the specs with my shop manual.


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post #9 of 43 Old February 27th, 2013, 10:39 PM
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As always dimora you and your advice A+ man thanks again for another awesome write up!!

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post #10 of 43 Old February 27th, 2013, 10:56 PM
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DiMora's Whiteline Watts Link Install Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiMora View Post
Yes...and your point is? Should I put up a big stink with Whiteline over a $15 bolt? They are sending me a new diff cover. I could...but let's go big picture here...This is a $900 part on a car I've got thousands of mod dollars into, so a $15 bolt and the hassle of getting one other than through my local dealer is not a big concern. I blow that amount of money on two drinks in NYC. It's partially my fault for not backing up the specs with my shop manual.
Alright, you do have a point there...


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post #11 of 43 Old February 28th, 2013, 12:20 AM
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Man-Watts FTW!

Great write-up, and great additional info from Whiskey too.



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post #12 of 43 Old February 28th, 2013, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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I have driven it a bunch more now.

Here is a great example of how you can really feel the difference:

On my way to work, there is a right-hand curve where there is a change in the pavement surface from asphalt to cement and then back to asphalt.

At speed, when cornering hard and pulling some G's...that bump in the middle of the right sweeper always caused a lateral rear end "shimmy" that necessitated a steering correction. It always "un-settled" the rear end.

Yesterday, I felt the bump as an up-down motion, but I did not need a steering correction. The bump also felt less significant - I think the compression / rebound of rear shocks was better able to absorb the bump due to more "free" movement of the axle on the driver's side with the Watts link. The panhard felt more "stiff".


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post #13 of 43 Old February 28th, 2013, 04:29 PM
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Nice write up. Someone finally made a watts link that's worth the coin.i remember saleen had one similar to yours but they stopped making them, the other manufacturers versions were crap and not worth the money IMHO.

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post #14 of 43 Old February 28th, 2013, 07:10 PM
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DiMora, the difference in "stiffness" you noticed from the PHB to the Watts has to do with roll center height. Specifically that the PHB probably had a higher roll center. That increases rear roll stiffness some and it does make a difference in mid corner bumps. It shouldn't have much effect on 2 wheel bumps though.

Quote:
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Nice write up. Someone finally made a watts link that's worth the coin.i remember saleen had one similar to yours but they stopped making them, the other manufacturers versions were crap and not worth the money IMHO.
As for the "other" versions being "crap". That's a personal opinion. I wouldn't call the Fays2 "crap" by any stretch of the imagination. It's simple and straight to the point. Nothing fancy, it gets the job done. It has won a lot more trophies in various handling environments than any of Whiteline's watts links in the same applications. It's also cheaper, and less unsprung weight.

That isn't to say the Whiteline unit isn't a good unit, it definitely is.



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Last edited by DiMora; February 28th, 2013 at 08:23 PM. Reason: Added Go GT's quote for context
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post #15 of 43 Old February 28th, 2013, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiskey11 View Post
DiMora, the difference in "stiffness" you noticed from the PHB to the Watts has to do with roll center height. Specifically that the PHB probably had a higher roll center. That increases rear roll stiffness some and it does make a difference in mid corner bumps. It shouldn't have much effect on 2 wheel bumps though...
Good stuff.

Here is a good read on roll center using a Fays2:

FAYS2 Suspension Watts Link page 4

FWIW, I was going to add a Fays2 to my car - the only reason I did not is some users on FnSweet that are having to get under the car and re-grease or replace bushings on a very regular basis. I want something that I can "set and forget" like Ron Popeil. It still looks like a very nice product for sure.

The Whiteline is just so "clean". The Steeda is a behemoth, but I understand it works pretty good, although I have read of the axle clamps slipping laterally on some installations.


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post #16 of 43 Old February 28th, 2013, 09:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiMora View Post
Good stuff.

Here is a good read on roll center using a Fays2:

FAYS2 Suspension Watts Link page 4

FWIW, I was going to add a Fays2 to my car - the only reason I did not is some users on FnSweet that are having to get under the car and re-grease or replace bushings on a very regular basis. I want something that I can "set and forget" like Ron Popeil. It still looks like a very nice product for sure.

The Whiteline is just so "clean". The Steeda is a behemoth, but I understand it works pretty good, although I have read of the axle clamps slipping laterally on some installations.
There are no bushings in the Fays2 Watts linkage, just rod ends. It does require a little grease on the center pivot bolt but once I did that I didn't have any other noise issues with mine which is shocking because of the rod ends. Rod ends do have a limited life span when exposed to road debris and rain and there isn't much you can do about mitigating it. Keeping the rod ends dry is a start. I plan on replacing them when the first one gets genuinely loose. Mine are still very tight after 8 months of use and autocrossing.

No idea on the Steeda unit but I can't say I am surprised given how their axle clamps are designed. It loss like it was designed to be welded in place. For the price though, there are so many other options that don't have that headache.



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post #17 of 43 Old March 1st, 2013, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiskey11 View Post
DiMora, the difference in "stiffness" you noticed from the PHB to the Watts has to do with roll center height. Specifically that the PHB probably had a higher roll center. That increases rear roll stiffness some and it does make a difference in mid corner bumps. It shouldn't have much effect on 2 wheel bumps though.



As for the "other" versions being "crap". That's a personal opinion. I wouldn't call the Fays2 "crap" by any stretch of the imagination. It's simple and straight to the point. Nothing fancy, it gets the job done. It has won a lot more trophies in various handling environments than any of Whiteline's watts links in the same applications. It's also cheaper, and less unsprung weight.

That isn't to say the Whiteline unit isn't a good unit, it definitely is.
Well it hasnt won anything because it hasnt been available for any race seasons yet, but so far its winning percentage its pretty dang good...

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post #18 of 43 Old March 1st, 2013, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Red_Devil View Post
Well it hasnt won anything because it hasnt been available for any race seasons yet, but so far its winning percentage its pretty dang good...
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's been out for over a year now hasn't it? I would imagine that the various amateur race series (SCCA and NASA time trials, etc) would already have a few racers using them. Hopefully by next year it will be legal for lower level SCCA Autocross in 2014 rather than being doomed to SM/CP so you guys can sell more there. There is nothing wrong with options.

My point was, that the "crap" Fays2 ("crap" quoted from someone elses post not, implied in yours Jared), has won A LOT of races in comparison to other Watts linkages on the market, including yours, including Griggs and Cortex Racing's units at pretty much every level. Hell, Fays2 has a pretty hefty monopoly on the vintage Pony car races and has a huge following on live axle cars in Autocross. Pretty impressive for a "word of mouth" only, small businessman!

I personally can't wait for the next few seasons to play out and see what other things you guys come up with for our cars. I'm just less enthused (and maybe there is some weariness from reading Terry's threads) on the constant bashing of my "scaffolding based, heavy, junk made, piece of crap, noisy" Fays2 when the information is blatantly wrong. I'm sure you would feel the same way if someone was misrepresenting your products. I have no business affiliation with ANYONE, I just hate seeing good product mis-represented.



2015 Mustang GT/PP Autocross Build Thread:
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post #19 of 43 Old March 1st, 2013, 11:52 AM
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Actually our first official watts links shipped out Sept 3... so nope! But I totally get your point, until the SCCA ruling possibly takes effect (you know, after the car is out of production and people have moved on) you arent going to see any in Autocross... but we still have some other series that we are working to get involved on to have coverage. We know we have a winning unit, it's just getting it out there. At the end of the day, it's a pride thing, we know its a great unit and the sales reflect that already, but we would like people to know what it can do...

Jared Chavez
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post #20 of 43 Old March 1st, 2013, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red_Devil View Post
Actually our first official watts links shipped out Sept 3... so nope! But I totally get your point, until the SCCA ruling possibly takes effect (you know, after the car is out of production and people have moved on) you arent going to see any in Autocross... but we still have some other series that we are working to get involved on to have coverage. We know we have a winning unit, it's just getting it out there. At the end of the day, it's a pride thing, we know its a great unit and the sales reflect that already, but we would like people to know what it can do...
Ahh, it sure as heck feels like it's been a year already. I know Terry had his early, but I thought it was early on last year. I have poor memory in the morning after I have just woken up!

I'm sure the 2014 autocross season will bring some good sales to you. If anything they should increase as the car gets less expensive to buy as they age and people can afford to autocross them. The assumption being that the SCCA rules in favor of swapping differential covers in SP and ST (I don't see any reason they wouldn't... then again).



2015 Mustang GT/PP Autocross Build Thread:
https://www.moddedmustangs.com/forums...-pp-build.html
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