One of the great, and not-so-great things about late-model Mustangs is that between the Fox platform’s debut in 1979 and the last SN-95 in the 2004 model year, the underpinnings went largely unchanged. It wasn’t so great because those Terminators were riding on a chassis that dated back to the glory days of disco, but it was great because of the tremendous opportunities to update earlier cars with later parts.
A great example of that kind of swap is changing over early four-lug hubs to accept later five-bolt wheels, and the latest twist on that theme is taking S197 wheels and putting them on SN-95 cars. Check out this video where we do exactly that:
The S197 chassis was an engineering break from the past, but there are some things that still remained the same – one particular detail is the wheel bolt pattern, which is the same for the SN-95 cars and their 2005-up successors. Unfortunately, the offset for the later cars puts the mounting face of the hubs farther outboard than the pre-2005 Mustangs, so updating to new wheels isn’t as simple as just getting a set and bolting them on.
That’s where New Take Off comes in. As you might guess from the name, they’re in the business of supplying OEM parts that are removed from new vehicles (think: “dealer-installed custom wheels”) as well as new old stock items for late model cars. But they also know what new stuff fits on which old stuff, and in the case of the Mustang, they’ve put together a kit to correct the offset on SN-95 cars that includes spacers and new, longer wheel studs to match.
In our particular case, we decided to bring our 2004 Mustang up to date with a set of 18×8-inch 2010 Mustang GT wheels, wrapped in Pirelli 235/50ZR 18 Pzero Nero tires. To make ’em fit right, we also ordered up NTO’s 13mm wheel spacer kit. The kit is comprised of four machined aluminum spacers, ten front studs, and ten rear studs. Follow along as we totally change the look of our ’04 Mustang with these factory wheels and tires, using NTO’s kit.
- Mustang 13mm Wheel Spacer Kit (PN FR3-20015-SPKIT)
- 2010 Mustang GT Wheel and Tire Set – 18×8 5-Spoke w/Pirelli P235/50ZR18 98W Pzero Nero (PN HOL-3834-WT)
Here's what our 2004 Mustang looked like to start with. Stock 5 spoke factory wheels, wrapped in stock Goodyear rubber. While it's not a bad looking car, you'll see ones exactly like it a thousand times a day here in SoCal.
To update our car, we turned to New Take Off for a set of factory 2010 Mustang GT wheels and Pirelli tires.
Compared side by side, the difference bewteen the 16-inch factory wheels and tires and the new 18-inch rollers is dramatic. Without lowering the car, we'll be able to fill some of the fender gap and give the car a whole new look. One caveat - because the rollout will be higher for the new wheels and tires, you'll need to use a flash tuner to adjust your speedometer and odometer to compensate.
Because the S197 chassis has more offset built in to the hubs than the SN-95, New Take Off offers a 13mm spacer kit that includes longer studs to put the 2010 wheels in the right position.
The spacers are machined from billet aluminum, and maintain the hub-centric factory setup.
New Take Off supplies two different kinds of studs for the front and back hubs, since they require different spline configurations. ProTip: Don't take them all out of the clearly-marked bags for photography before marking them to remember which is which...
Switching the studs out is easier than you might expect. After detaching the brake caliper and hanging it off to the side to allow you to take the rotor off, you can use a stud puller to force the old ones out through the back of the hub.
Don't have a stud puller, or can't borrow/rent one? No worries - the kinetic tool (AKA BFH) will also work if used carefully.
The new studs are just long enough to add the extra reach needed to compensate for the spacers.
To install the new studs, all you'll need are a pair of washers, a spare open-ended lug nut, and a wrench.
We used the lug nut and double-washer arrangement to draw the new studs into the hubs.
With all the studs in place, we put the rotors and calipers back on, and installed the spacers. They simply slip over the studs and locate precisely on the hub flange.
The new 2010 Mustang wheels and tires look great, and really help fill out the wheel wells. Thanks to the NTO spacer kit, they don't rub, even at full suspension travel and steering lock.
In an afternoon, we got our swap done, and the new 2010 GT factory wheels and tires totally transform the look of our 2004 Mustang. Now, not only does it stand out from the herd of other silver Mustangs, but we got a subtle custom look and 18’s without giving up anything in terms of ride quality. Though these wheels and tires are significantly larger than the ones that came on the car, because they’re 50-series instead of rubber-band thin sidewalls, the car’s comfort is actually improved somewhat. It shouldn’t be surprising considering the package was originally intended for showroom-stock S197’s.
Handling is as you would expect from a factory-spec wheel and tire package, balancing ride comfort and grip without being biased too far in either direction. One thing we can say about the Pirellis is that they are forgiving compared to a max-grip summer-only tire – they will let you know when you are approaching their limits without doing anything particularly nasty or unexpected. Overall, we are very pleased with every aspect of this swap, and enjoy the double takes from people knowledgeable about Mustangs when they see the current-gen wheels on our 2004 Mustang.
NTO has several stock take-off wheel and tire packages for late model Mustangs, as well as bare wheels if you want to roll your own rubber or need to replace a pranged stock hoop. A wheel and tire package, along with the spacer kit, is a cost-effective way to update your SN-95 Mustang to brand new rolling stock, and you get the benefit of OEM quality from Ford and no-headaches fitment thanks to New Take Off.