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By: the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide

The 1999 Ford Mustang Chassis and Engines

This '99 coupe might look like a $20,870 GT, but it's really the $16,470 baseversion with the V-6 Sport Appearance Group offering rear spoiler, alloywheels, and other sporty features for $310.

"New Edge" good looks were easy on the eyes, but potential buyers also wanted to know what was going on under the hood of the 1999 Mustang models.

Improved handling and refinement were the goals of chassis engineers under Paul Giltinan. Side rails were fully boxed, with insulating foam in the rocker-panel areas. Better floorpan sealing also helped lessen road noise. Convertibles gained underbody "rail extenders" designed to reduce structural shudder.


For agility, rear track on all models was widened by 1.4 inches (thus equaling the front dimension), and a 1.5-inch higher transmission tunnel allowed a little more upward wheel travel. Smaller-diameter antiroll bars and retuned shock absorbers were specified to improve ride compliance with no harm to handling despite adoption of firmer springs. GTs switched from variable- to linear-rate coils for the same reasons.

Steering was revised with less boost, better on-center feel, and a useful three-foot tighter turning circle. The front disc brakes gained aluminum twin-piston calipers saving 10 pounds apiece in unneeded unsprung weight. New pad material and a larger master cylinder provided more positive braking feel with less pedal effort.

Powertrain engineers under Bill Koche focused on pumping up power. The 3.8-liter pushrod V-6 with "split-port induction" received new cylinder heads, a freer-breathing intake manifold with two runners for each cylinder, high-tech piston coatings that reduced friction, and new aluminum main and thrust bearings.

Mustang's V-6 (left) gained a useful 40 horses for '99, while the GT's single-cam 4.6-liter V-8 added 35.

The 3.8's horsepower jumped by 40 to 190, torque by five pound-feet to 215. A new contra-rotating "balancer" shaft did nothing for performance but did dampen second-order vibrations for smoother running.

Improvements were no less extensive for the GT's 4.6-liter single-cam V-8: bigger valves, reshaped combustion chambers, a new higher-lift longer-duration camshaft, straighter manifold runners for better airflow, and improved crankshaft, conrod, and thrust bearings. Horsepower here expanded by 35 to 250, torque by 10 lb-ft to 302. In addition, the former 3.27:1 "performance" axle was now standard for both engines, improving off-the-line snap.

As before, an antilock brake system (ABS) was standard for GTs and optional on base models ($500). An extra $230 bought the additional "active safety" of traction control, Mustang's first. Spearheaded by chief project engineer Janine Bay, this used the ABS wheel-speed sensors to detect wheel slippage. In the event, system electronics would retard spark and reduce throttle opening until traction was restored (wheel speeds equalized).

At higher road speeds (up to 62 mph), the traction-control system could also brake either rear wheel as needed, hence the advertising moniker "all-speed traction control." A dashboard "off" switch enabled drivers to let it literally all hang out when conditions, and skill, allowed.

Mustang fans were happy to greet the '99 Mustang SVT Cobra a few months after the rest of the Mustang lineup debuted. Keep reading to learn about the SVT Cobra's special touches, including Mustang's first independent rear suspension (IRS).

Want to find out even more about the Mustang legacy? Follow these links to learn all about the original pony car:

  • Saddle up for the complete story of America's best-loved sporty car. How the Ford Mustang Works chronicles the legend from its inception in the early 1960s to today's all-new Mustang.
  • It's hard to imagine Ford actually considered putting the Mustang out to pasture instead of producing a 1994 model. Learn how Mustang came back from the brink in 1994-1998 Ford Mustang.
  • The 2005 Mustang's shape was ordained by a superstar stylist with a European pedigree. Learn how the original pony car was reborn in 2005 Ford Mustang.
  • For a full report on the 2007 Ford Mustang, check out Consumer Guide New Car Reviews. Here you'll find road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for hundreds of cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.