Are these fiberglass fender flares the secret ingredient necessary to squeeze 275 width tires under the front fender on an early 90′s coupe?
Finally! We scoured the internet looking for a solution to our fender woes. With the new 275 Toyo Proxies up front, combined with an increased track and offset from our Griggs/MM front suspension, we were left pulling our hair out trying to find a fender solution that would let the tire clear the fender. We found many partial posts, and a couple of manufacturers that promised the perfect solution – but nobody had a step-by-step how to on flared fenders for the Mustang Coupe. Until now.
Every car is different. But when it comes to modifications that are well beyond the original intent of the designers at Ford, you’re faced with more art than science. There are two things that are constant for any original fox Mustang: The original front suspension geometry sucks, and the front fender openings are too small to accommodate a decent sized tire.
We already addressed the first point with the addition of our Griggs K-member and Maximum Motorsports control arms. With our previous 8.5? wheel and 245 tire combination, we needed a “little” finesse to get the meat to fit up front. Now that we’ve switched to a 9?/275 tire combo – we need a lot more room. We’ve tried all of the DIY fender mods – we even had an unsuccessful attempt at a new one (more on that later) to no avail. We needed to replace or modify our fenders to get the proper flare.
Choosing a Fender Flare for the Mustang
We considered both of the available solution types: Entire Fender -vs- grafting on a fender extension. We’re the first to admit that form should follow function. But somehow, turning the front of our track whore into a rivet strewn freak from a Frankenstein movie just wasn’t for us. So that left us to choose between replacement fenders from Tiger Racing, or Maier Racing.
It wasn’t easy to decide. Frankly – both of the company web sites suck at showing their product, fit, finish, or installation tips. We found a great write up by Patrick Olsen over at Corner-Carvers.com about his Maier Racing 1.5? flares, but since he was having a bodyshop do the work, it didn’t have the detail we were searching for to help make our decision.
offers replacement fenders in fiberglass for $399/ea, or vacuum bagged carbon for $769/ea. They only show fenders available for Mustangs 1994-2004, but rumor has it you can order for Fox Mustangs as well. (Griggs lists the Fox fenders for sale, but apparently nobody thought to photograph them) It’s pretty tough to smack down a grand (with shipping) without so much as a picture of the product. They have a great reputation, and a nice following with the SN95 crowd, but as fox owners – we felt a little like the proverbial red-headed stepchild.
offers replacement fiberglass fenders with a 1.5? or 3? flare for $634/pair. They have a photo of one of them (they don’t discern between the two in the photo description) and have an “after” photo of one of the fenders on a car. Wow. Great details fellas, where do we send the check?
Maier Racing Flared Fenders FTW!
A phone call to Maier Racing had us talking to none other than Bill Maier himself. He could not confirm or deny that the fenders would solve our clearance issues, and expressed surprised that the fenders had been selling more frequently lately. (Hmmm, wonder if the American Iron rule change for the AI class had anything to do with that?) We spent another day researching, and talking to anyone that had actually used the fender in a similar application (thanks again Pat,) and decided to try the Maier fenders for our coupe.
One more phone call later to a less than cheerful “Dave” from Maier racing (seriously, he sounded like he was trying to talk us out of buying the things. He must talk to a lot of fanboys all day – cause he was anything but helpful) plus $725 later (MR had a 10% off sale on fiberglass for the month of May,) we had a pair of fenders heading to us just in time for Sebring.
EDITORS NOTE: We don’t mention this often enough – but we pay retail for all of these parts we test. Why? We don’t want any conflict of interests when it comes to sharing our opinion of how things perform. If it rocks – great, we’ll say so. But if something sucks, we want to be free to express that as well. We smack down our hard earned money just like you.
Maier Racing Fender Flares – Install notes
The fenders arrived as promised, within 5 business days from California to South Florida. Maier Racing chooses private air freight for shipping to ensure things arrive in one piece. The fenders are well made, and solidly constructed. There was good attention to detail in the finish. If you’re going to be hitting the show car circuit, you’ll probably want to enlist the help of a bodyshop to make it look like a perfect ten. If you’re like us – and you just want a nice looking ride tearing up the race track – you’ll be pleased with how the fenders line up after a single afternoon of fitment.
There are no instructions provided with the fenders. We prodded the ever-cheerful Dave from Maier Racing for installation tips. “Measure twice, drill once.” Thanks buddy. We found the best way to do this was sample and measure the stock fender from a couple of reference points for each hole. X many inches from this corner, X many inches from this crease – etc. We weren’t keeping the fender extender (that will be replaced by an undetermined spoiler soon) so we were left with 5 holes to measure/mark before drilling. We went back and forth between the two fenders – and the bolts on the car – several times, adjusting our marks before we broke out the drill.
There are enough “landmarks” on the two fenders to reference and measure from to find the new mounting locations. Take your time, double check your work, and then check it again. The front holes are probably the most worrisome, but you have to do these first to line up the rest of the marks.
We used a 3/8″ bit with a pilot point tip for the front holes. The fastener holes on the stock fenders were much larger – but we anticipated that we wouldn’t get it perfect on the first try, and wanted some extra real estate left over to elongate holes as necessary (some of the marks end up really close to the edge. If Maier provided an extra 1/2? or so in these spots it would be helpful). When drilling, we were cautious to work slowly, not press too hard and let the drill do the work. It kicks off a lot of powdery fiberglass that you probably don’t want in your lungs and eyes, so use the proper equipment to be safe. Or not, if you’re a Darwin Award fan.
It’s a little tricky getting a nut/washer to slide into the underside of the fiberglass. Our passenger side had enough room to slide our fat fingers under to hold the new nut/washer. The driver’s side had less room, so we had to use some really long needle nosed pliers. It was a considerable effort in patients to get the washer/bolt/nut to line up when installing the bracket.
Once installed, the top clears the tire, but the front rubs a bit on turn-in. We ended up using the same fender stretcher bar that we created for the old fenders – and mounted in a similar location to the new fender. The fiberglass in the front of the fender had a lot of flexibility to be pushed outward because we did not fasten the stock brace from the radiator support area to the fender/bumper support. We still had to grind a little bit off the lower front of the fender for clearance, but now we have enough room around the tire for any movement, under any load, at a much lower ride height if desired.
We’re pretty happy with the results. We were also very surprised by the reactions these fenders received at the track. In between every session someone would stop to ask what type of fender we had, and ask about the installation. We tested the fender on track without paint to be certain they were fully functional and they passed with flying colors (Bye-bye fender rub in turn 17!)
Tell us what you think. How does it look? Are you looking to do this yourself? Feel like you can do the install now? Leave us some feedback in the comments section.