Mustang Clutch Tech & Review 5.0 (79-95)

Posted 4/3/2015 by Tyler Rodriquez

If you are looking for the right clutch for your 1979-1995 Mustang, check out this 5.0 Mustang clutch tech and review!

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1979-95 Mustang Clutch Guide (5.0)

If your 1979-1995 Mustang is in need of a new clutch, selecting the right kit can be a hassle. Luckily, Late Model Restoration has you covered with our great selection of top name brand clutch assemblies.

This article will guide you through the differences in 1979-1995 Mustang clutches to help you make the right purchasing decision. We will walk you through each stage to help you better understand which kit is right for you. All factory 1979-1995 Mustangs came with 10.5" diameter, 10 spline clutches.

Let’s start out with the “Stages” of clutches. Many of you may have probably asked yourself “I have a bone stock 5.0, should I run a stage 2 or 3 on my car?” This section will go over all of the different stages of clutch assemblies associated with power output and applications for your vehicle.

Stage 0

A Stage 0 clutch is a direct replacement clutch made for stock applications. If you have multiple bolt-on parts or plan on running drag radials or slicks, this is not the clutch for you. These will be designed for the “daily driver”, all stock cars. They will offer perfect drive ability and stock pedal effort for a comfortable feel.

Stage 1

The stage 1 Mustang clutch will have a slightly firmer pedal effort over stock, but not excessive by any means. The friction material will be upgraded and will normally support 400 HP applications. Some chatter may be evident on cars equipped with 2.73 gears. Each Mustang Clutch Kit includes a higher clamp load pressure plate, organic friction disc, Release Bearing, & an alignment tool. It is a warranty requirement to replace or re-surface your flywheel with the installation of a new clutch. The use of an aluminum quadrant with an adjustable clutch cable is highly recommend with these clutch kits. Use of drag radials or drag slicks with this clutch will void the warranty!

Stage 2

If you are regularly running drag radials on your Mustang, regardless of power level, Stage 2 clutch is for you. It offers up to a 500 rear wheel horsepower handling capability without breaking your leg with a hard pedal. Some chatter may be evident in street driving. Each Stage Two Mustang Clutch Kit includes a higher clamp load pressure plate, performance friction disc (either organic/metallic or full cerametallic facing), Release Bearing, & an alignment tool. The use of a billet flywheel is required with these clutch kits. The use of an aluminum quadrant with an adjustable clutch cable is required with these clutch kits. Use of full drag slicks with this clutch will void the warranty!

Stage 3

So, your Mustang sees regular drag strip duty wearing a pair of full on drag slicks. Or, you simply have thrown the book at your engine and are now making up to 600 rear wheel horse power. Maybe it's a combination of the two. The Stage 3 clutch is the benchmark all other single disc clutches are measured by. The clutch disc is lined on both sides with a centered iron friction material that offers a high coefficient of friction while still allowing for some slip for the clutch to engage smoothly. Chatter will be evident in street driving. Each Stage Three Mustang Clutch Kit includes a higher clamp load pressure plate, metallic puck friction disc, Release Bearing, & an alignment tool. The use of a billet flywheel is required with these clutch kits. The use of an aluminum quadrant with an adjustable clutch cable is required with these clutch kits.

Additional Info

With any clutch install, Late Model Restoration always recommends to have your existing flywheel re-surfaced or to purchase a new one. This way you will have a true mating surface for your new clutch to properly mate with. Warranties will require this across the board, and make sure if you have it resurfaced to keep your invoice for your records. Accessories at a minimum included with the 79-95 clutch kits will include a clutch alignment tool, release bearing and in some cases a new pilot bearing.

When doing a clutch install, this is the perfect opportunity to inspect all associated components and hardware with your driveline. Inspect the clutch cable, quadrant, fork and stud while you are in there. The driveshaft and shifter are another area to inspect as well. When checking out all hardware, look for the obvious flaws that may be a concern. Any rounded edges, cracking or signs of cross threading, you will want to replace them. When inspecting your existing flywheel you will want to check for bluing, heat checkmarks, or cracking. Replace if necessary.

For more clutch information or to pick up a new setup for your Mustang check out


About the Video

Fox Body Mustang Clutch Tech Info (Fox 79-93)

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Published on 2014-10-13
Are you stuck deciding which clutch is the right one for you? No worries, we cover just about every detail there is to consider when purchasing a clutch for your Mustang!

In this video we discuss the differences between your 'stock' replacement clutch all the way to a horsepower hungry Stage 3 . A lot of thought goes into purchasing a clutch, so we simplified things to help you make the right decision!

There are a lot of options for an '82 to '95 five liter Mustang clutches, which can lead to a lot of confusion. But we're going to break it down for you stage by stage. That way you can make a better educated decision on what clutch that you need for your Mustang.

Starting out at the beginning of the spectrum is your state 0 or stock replacement clutch. And it is just that-- a replacement for your stock collection on an entirely stock car. It is not going to handle much of any power routers. It might for a little bit, but it's not going to live a very long life.

The differences in the stock clutch offering revolve around the size as '82 to '85 mustangs came from the factory with a 10-inch clutch. Now besides that overall diameter of 10 inches, you can tell that you've got a 10-inch clutch by the lack of dowel pins in the use of a shoulder bolt like these here allowed to fresh plate to be centered on the flywheel without the use of dowel pins.

It is very common to upgrade those 10-inch clutches to the '86 to '95 style 10.5-inch clutch. Now the 10.5-inch clutch does use your standard pressure plate bolt with a lock washer and three locating dowels to prevent vibration.

Your stock pressure plates are going to maintain an awesome stock-like pedal feel. And the stock replacement disk is going to be fitted with a tense blind hub to make with your factory 10 spline input shaft on your transmission. That's an organic-facing. And the hub is sprung, so you're not going to have any chatter or noise on takeoff.

If you're making more power than stop, step up on up to the stage one. Your stage one clutch is going to give you up to about 400 rear wheel horsepower holding capability. Now that's only on strength tires. This is not the clutch you want to run if you're running drag radials or sticky tires like slicks at the track. This is an excellent upgrade street clutch.

The pressure plate does have a higher clamp load, which means that the pedal effort will be a little bit stiffer than a stock replacement. Your disk is going to be able to be fitted with either a 10 spline or 26 spline hub. That way it'll mate with either stock type transmissions or aftermarket performance transmissions like the Tremec TKO 600 or the Magnum T56.

The hub is sprung, so you're not going to have the chatter. And it does maintain an organic-facing for good engagement capabilities, but the organics are a little bit more aggressive and as part of the extra power handling.

If you're making more than 400 horsepower, or you've run at the strip, where slicks are drag radials on a regular basis, making those hard launches, you need to step on over to the stage two. Stage two clutch bumps you up to about 500 rear wheel horsepower holding capability. Your pressure plate clamp load stays about the same as a stage one, but the friction material on the disk is upgraded.

Now you have two different ways this is done. On some clutches you end up with a dual friction style that has an organic-facing on one side and then a puck disk on the other, which would be the flywheel side. You still have a sprung input hub. That way you minimize the chatter. But the more aggressive friction material is still going to chatter a little bit on takeoff, especially with the higher numerically lower year ratios like 355s, 373s.

The disk is available in either a 10 spline or a 26 spline depending on what transmission you're running. Like the stage one clutch, you are going to have a little bit stiffer pedal effort and that should be expected, but it's still going to be reasonable for such a performance clutch.

With the improved friction material on the disk, this clutch is much more capable of handling those hard loads on full launch, on sticky tires at the drag strip. But let's say you're putting down a little bit more power. Let's move on to the stage three.

As far as single disk diaphragm clutches go, your stage three is going to be the big data of the group. Your pressure plate is going to have an even higher clamp load that the stage one or two, and that equals a much harder pedal. You should expect some pretty nasty pedal effort with a stage three clutch.

Your disc is also changing too as it's not a full faced unit anymore. It's your traditional puck style, and it's going to have metallic or ceramic metallic pucks on both sides. It's still a sprung hub, but it has very limited movement. So you are going to get chatter regardless of the application.

The disk is available in either a 10 spline or a 26 spline depending on what transmission you're running. However, if you're running a 10 spline transmission with a stage three clutch, and you have the power to match, you're going to be upgrading soon anyway.

All this being said, your stage three clutch will handle in excess of 600 rear wheel horsepower. It'll handle just about whatever you can throw at it, boosted, nitrous, naturally aspirated for a nasty street strip car, even a dedicated strip car.

Regardless, on a stage two, or stage three clutch, or any clutch for that matter-- regardless of how they stage it or rate the power handling-- if it has metallic or ceramic metallic putts, you want to run a billets steel or billet aluminum flywheel. These clutches are not compatible with cast iron flywheel. They'll chew them up in short order.

Any time you install a new clutch, regardless of the power handling or stage, you'll either want to start out with a brand new flywheel or have your existing flywheel turned, so you're working with a flat mating surface, and the clutch can brake in the way it needs to.

That moves me on to braking. Sometimes, you'd have people telling you to drive 500 to 1,000 miles street driving-- certain sequences to go through to break in the clutch. Pretty much by the time you get out of your driveway, the clutch is broke in.

But personal preference, I still drive around for about 100 miles in an in-town driving situation with a lot of stop and go. That way I know for sure that the disk has mated well with the flywheel and the pressure plate.

All of your clutch kits are going to include at a minimum a new throwout bearing or clutch release bearing and an alignment tool. Some of them even include a new pilot bearing. To pick up any clutch for your Mustang, you need to check out