Rollcage install Part 1 – 2003 Mustang Cobra convertible


So the past three weeks have been a frenzy of stuff going on including football, travel to CA, and this…. roll cage install.  Once I increased the power of the car most recently, I quickly decided to add a roll cage.  Here is the story.

Started about three weeks ago Bryan and I tackled the task of installing roll cage. We knew it was not hard but were hoping it would take a long weekend.  Well, like I said it was not a hard install but we had limited chunks of time to work on it after we missed the first weekend deadline and the weather was not helpful.  On top of that it was tedious at times as Ford’s levels of tolerances are quite large ie: we had to “make” a few parts fit.  We had the tools but we were not metal workers by trade.  But in the end we got it done and it looks beautiful.

So the first part was tearing out the seats and interior and getting the car prepped. We also laid out the roll cage to see how it looks mocked up. The interior was not too difficult but as usual we did our best to keep the screws, plastic tabs, and bolts organized by sides. Last time I had to do this was with the ’87 White Mustang GT back at Andrew’s Limo shop.  It was not that bad this time.

Next came the manipulating of the interior floor pan to get the base plates to fit flush so we could weld.  That was a huge task as Ford’s tolerances are very loose and many of the metal base plates did not fit quite flush.  So we had to bang, hammer, hit, bend, etc. to make it work. It was a challenge and tedious but we got it done and it looks beautiful! The most important part was making sure wherever there was going to be a base plate welded to the floor there had to be VERY LITTLE gap for the weld to hold strong.

So after this challenge we moved on to figuring out how the bar fit inside the car with the top up, down, doors open, and closed.  This went very well, thank God, because I was not going to be modifying the bars themselves! Maximum Motorsports definitely did a good job coming up with a general size that fits most Mustangs, even with Ford’s tolerances.  This was also exciting because we got to see how the bar would look inside the car.  It was a bitter sweet moment because it looked great but we would only have to remove the bar again to paint it and drill holes for base plates just behind the front seats and at the front kick panels.

Then came probably the hardest part of the build, mocking up the rear braces, tack welding them, and making sure they were even.  Not only this but we also had to make sure the rear braces were at least 30 degrees from vertical to meet SCCA regulations, within 5” from top of main hoop, and flush with both the main hoop and the rear base plates.  We quadruple measured and cut about 4 times per side to make this work. In the end they are even to the eye.

Next everything had to come out for paint. So we each took turns cleaning, sanding, priming, priming, sanding, cleaning, painting, painting, sanding, cleaning painting. This was tough because the weather was not cooperating and we had to do this in chunks of time. Really thank Bryan for helping me out on this without me being there.

Once all was painted it was time to put back in and measure the holes for the bars to go through and cut the carpet. This was fun for some reason, maybe it was because it was not dealing with metal but how the carpet would look “hugging” the metal.  In the end, I think they came out perfect. The carpet is really tight to the bars and looks as if they should have been there.

So we torque’d the base plates to the floor, bolted in the main hoop and rear braces, set in the swingout bars, and prayed. It all was good. There is a little bit of an issue on the driver’s side where the swingout is hard to remove but that is okay with me for now, more importantly passenger side is easy as pie to remove J

Thank you to Bryan for helping me out with this, I had a great time. I also really enjoyed getting to know the little man Chase, he is amazing!  Also thank you to Amy for allowing me to take Bryan away for the weekends and the extra time it took to get this done.

Oh so along with the bar, here are some other loose ends we tied up.

  1. Removing broken bolt that was stuck in floor for the front driver’s seat
  2. Shaving the rear sub frame bolt to allow even more clearance for the 315/35-17 Drag Radials
  3. Spraying the underside of rear base plates and rear inner wheel wells with rubberized spray paint to protect from welding points
  4. Re-glued rear speaker covers to plastic panels
  5. We loosened up exhaust from behind headers and back so we could tuck the exhaust under the car as much as possible to gain ground clearance. I think I gained at least 2”!!
  6. Plugged open holes left from not using rear seats anymore unless there were bolts to fill them.