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Recommendations for Mustang (10.5"/10 spline) clutches?


cgrey8

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V8 Engine Swap
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Location
Metro Atlanta
Vehicle Year
1989
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
V8
Engine Size
331
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
2WD
My credo
Always Somethin'
When I 1st started this V8 Ranger venture in 2005, I got a lot of used parts off eBay. Standard kinds of parts, I got from AutoZone just because it was convenient, and wasn't likely to be enough different to matter (e.g. hoses, gaskets, etc). For more specialty stuff (e.g. Universal spark plug wire kit, clutch, electric pusher-fans, high flow fuel pump, etc), I went to Summit Racing.

Back then, Summit sold the FMS King Cobra Clutch kit. It promised better than OE performance with a stock pedal feel. I think it was somewhere around $180 and was actually made by Valeo. It even had the Valeo emblem stamped right on the pressure plate. When I swapped in my current 331 in 2013, I used some clutch kit I got off eBay sold by a performance shop that promised it'd be just as good as the FMS/Valeo kit for $140ish IIRC. It's worked, but I don't feel it had quite the holding power the original King Cobra had. Although that could've had more to do with it being bolted to an engine with objectively more torque than the stock Explorer 97 302 the King Cobra was clutching for. Overall it's been fine and is still working as of this post.

The problem right now is the throw out bearing is starting to squeal. It doesn't happen all the time, but it's happening with increasing frequency which can only mean it's trying to let me know to do something about it before it makes that decision for me. If I'm going to take the time to drop the trans, I might as well replace the clutch & rear main seal while I'm in there.

So that brings me to the question of what clutch should I go with? Even with the added torque of the 331, I just don't drive the truck hard the VAST MAJORITY of the time. Thus light pedal pressure, smooth engagement, and reliability are far more important to me than "Stage" level clamping performance. The truck has NEVER seen a prepped drag strip. TBO, an OE replacement clutch kit from Autozone ($115ish) would probably be fine. But if I can find something better for a reasonable price, why not? So I went looking in my typical places.

Looking on eBay, I see a LOT of suspiciously counterfeit Valeo clutches. The listings have Valeo claimed, but the images, I don't think are. But then again, I'm way out of date looking for these kinds of things, so it's entirely possible Valeo has changed their plate and clutch designs. And then there are lots of clutch brands I just don't recognize, like McLeod and Luk. And even if those are good brands, I simply don't know enough about them to know what I'm looking for (on the images or once delivered) to pick out the counterfeits from genuine ones. I found similar frustrations when looking on Amazon.

So I went back to Summit Racing. The FMS clutch I find there is no longer called the King Cobra AND has a MUCH heftier price tag (over $300) and doesn't even include a replacement pilot bearing (the King Cobra kit of yesteryear didn't either). But I did see the McLeod and Luk brands there too along with some others I'd also never heard of before. If Summit is carrying them, I'm guessing they are reputable brands if you get genuine products.

The Summit Racing branded clutch looks fine and is probably perfectly acceptable for how I use the truck. It's certainly got an affordable $125ish price tag and includes the throw out as well as a new pilot (although it's a bronze bushing). My only observation of concern is the plate only has 4 springs vs most plates for these engines (including AutoZone's Duralast) having 5 springs. I have NO CLUE if that's even a valid concern. The reviews on Summit's own website are mixed between people finding the clutch great to one guy showing the clutch material fell apart after a year (he didn't indicate what kind of duty the vehicle saw to cause that).

I do believe Summit uses quality manufacturers for their Summit Racing branded products. I have a Summit-branded ignition box that, based on its construction, I'm pretty sure was made by MSD. Their box has lasted longer than the MSD 6A it replaced. So unless someone has a compelling reason not to use their clutch, I'm perfectly fine picking one of these up.

But before I bought something, I thought, maybe there's others more familiar with today's clutch offerings that could suggest something better for cheaper that I might should consider.

For those interested, the engine is a 331 stroker (10.1:1 CR) with ported and decked GT40p heads, Explorer upper and ported lower, Crane Powermax 2020 cam (truck/RV oriented cam), and FMS Explorer headers. If I had to guess, it's only 250-270hp, so not crazy power numbers, but noticeably more than the stock Explorer 302 it replaced.
 
Last edited:


19Walt93

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Ford Technician
V8 Engine Swap
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Location
Canaan,NH
Vehicle Year
1993
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
V8
Engine Size
351
Transmission
Automatic
2WD / 4WD
2WD
Total Drop
3"
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235/55R16
My credo
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I have a Centerforce Gold clutch in my Mustang and like it. When I was drag racing I ran a Centerforce dual friction clutch but the Gold has less pedal pressure. Do you need the grip of a racing clutch enough to tolerate high pedal pressure? I would insist on a pilot bearing, not a bushing and avoid no name parts unless they're quick and easy to replace if you're disappinted. I don't consider a clutch to be quick and easy enough to make cutting corners worth it. I've had the very best luck with Summit, on the rare occasions when I've had problems they stepped up and took care of it.
 

cgrey8

New Member
V8 Engine Swap
Joined
Nov 28, 2023
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Points
1
Location
Metro Atlanta
Vehicle Year
1989
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
V8
Engine Size
331
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
2WD
My credo
Always Somethin'
I most definitely do NOT need great clamping force. An OEM clutch would probably do just fine for the way I drive and the power output of the engine. Thus a stock like pedal pressure is far more important to me than stage-level clamping force.

As for the bearing, regardless what I go with, I'll be using a needle bearing, not a bushing. I don't fully understand why pilot bushings are even a thing on an OE-replacement clutch. The difference in cost just doesn't make any kinds of sense to me.
 

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