Living in southern California I tend to run into a lot of car people, whether its an enthusiast on the street or someone who works in the automotive industry. Over the years, Ive built up a relationship with several friends who are die-hard Ford fans. I had the opportunity to chat with Jared Chavez, owner of a 2004 Saleen Mustang and who now works at Whiteline Performance Suspension.
Jared is pretty active in the industry and particularly with working on Ford Mustangs. He’s held several high profile positions at very recognizable companies including a spot at Saleen. Jared recently made a jump to Whiteline, a maker of high quality performance suspension parts, I asked him to share a little bit about about the company and his new role. Below is the email exchange with Jared.
Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions, why don’t we start by taking a moment and tell our readers about yourself?
My name is Jared Chavez, I have been working in the automotive industry for just over six years now. I grew up a Ford guy, my Grandma used to have a green 66 Mustang, growing up my Mom had a F100 Custom and we always had at least 1 Ford truck! I got my first automotive job at Saleen SpeedLab working sales and I gained a lot of great experience and met tons of great people in the Mustang world, from the install and speed shops, other manufacturers and all the great Ford owners in the community. Other notables I have worked for were American Hot Rods with Duane Mayer (everyone’s favorite shop foreman from the series of the same name at Hotrods by Boyd), and more recently Shelby Distribution / Superformance.
Recently you made a career change, now you’re working at Whiteline, what is Whiteline?
Yes I did! Last June I had the pleasure of meeting some of the management at Whiteline USA and we started a working relationship on Mustang product. Whiteline is a globally recognized leader in suspension components including bushings and alignment correction. Last July Whiteline USA was founded to bring the product here to the US and make our mark, so far I think we’ve done a pretty fantastic job of making people aware of the brand prior to the release of some of our new product lines.
Where is Whiteline based out of?
We are headquartered in Australia and have branches in the UK and the US, which is invaluable because it allows us to develop parts regionally that are market specific, and in many cases give us a head start on product before the reach other countries. Aside from our branches we have heavy distribution world-wide which is fantastic for Ford owners globally as they should have no problem getting their hands on our parts, regardless of where they are located!
What makes Whiteline different than other suspension component companies?
First and foremost, Whiteline is a bushing manufacturer. Our products really showcase our unique synthetic elastomer bushings which we engineer specific for each application. When we design a bushing we look at what the function of that bushing is, what it does, how it moves and what might cause it to fail. We also always look for ways to add alignment correction if beneficial to the vehicle.
You won’t see us just take a stock bushing and make a mold out of it and use our material. Since many bushing move in their own unique way we develop bushings that are designed to articulate which results in a bushing that not only does its’ job better, but also won’t bind and fail.
Just like our bushings we pride ourselves in using the best possible materials for the application. The Mustang product specifically is a starting point for the next generation of Whiteline products where we have really stepped up our game on the quality of metalwork and design and it is representative of the quality we will have moving forward.
What’s the big misconception about suspension bushings?
Well first off I think we should clarify that people have a perception of Polyurethane bushings found in the American market. Poly has very specific characteristics that we have grown accustomed to; they squeak, they transfer a lot of NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness), they require maintenance and ultimately they have a life span and will eventually fail and need to be replaced. These are things that we just accept as a trade-off for a performance upgrade.
What we offer with our Synthetic Elastomer bushings is a product that challenges those perceptions the market has and introduces a new market standard; a bushing that out performs polyurethane, requires zero maintenance, does not squeak, and does not create excessive NVH. And as far as the life of our bushings is considered, we just announced at SEMA last year that our bushing kits come with a limited lifetime warranty, we stand behind the product.
So what’s the secret sauce in your bushings?
The secret is years of engineering and doing our best to continually evolve the market. This really can be separated into 2 key points: material and design. Our bushing compound was initially designed to replace brass bushings in hill climb vehicles; we then refined it to create different durometers (stiffness ratings). We have OE level replacement bushings, street performance, and motorsports level. What that equates to is a bushing that you can really put through the roughest conditions and maintain reliability.
Our engineering allows us to take it a step further, really ENGINEERING product. We make your bushing into a notable performance upgrade by creating a product that does it job better. We have a variety of techniques we use from our pocket knurling grease retention, and articulation features like pin holing and scallop voiding. Our bushings give everyone what they want, the car that handles exceptionally but still has exceptional ride quality.
With the heated competition between the Mustang & Camaro, it just seems like the standard HP is steadily increasing, does Whiteline have plans to stay ahead of the curve?
Just like our bushings, our products use high quality materials. When we initially started designing product for Mustang we knew that we were going to have to use materials stronger than what was currently market standard. With the new GT500 putting out 650hp stock and those numbers being easily attainable with superchargers on the 5.0 we realized we had to plan for cars with crazy amounts of horsepower. We ended up deciding that chrome-moly was going to be the best material to use.
What sort of products will Whiteline be releasing for the Mustang?
We have a full line of products we just released. We will be offering Rear Lower Control Arms, Relocation Brackets, Upper Control Arm with a Mount and a Panhard Bar. This joins our already available product line of Adjustable sway bars, Chassis Braces, Anti-dive and Roll Center Kits. Following these products we will have Adjustable strut tower bars designed to clear Roush TVS2300 Superchargers and of course our Watts Linkage. All of the items are designed as a premium brand product, Whiteline only wants to make premium tier items and we offer alignment correction and adjustment wherever makes sense. The new Mustang products all utilize a rod end style design for the best mix of adjustment and strength.
The Whiteline products you’ve shown me are all yellow, any plans for other colors?
All of Whiteline’s products are yellow and black. It really just depends on the car which color we use, for the most part we try to stick with the yellow because it’s our identifiable color, however with some cars like Camaros and Challengers we have made the bushings in black. This is mainly because of the work and process involved with disassembly of the cars during installation, we don’t want anyone to go into a dealership and have warranty issues from tearing their cars apart. Not all dealerships are as understanding as Fords!
Any plans on making product for older Mustangs?
We actually already have a full offering for classic Mustang available which includes bushings and 6 different sway bars. Since they have classic Mustangs in Australia these are parts that have been in our offering for a long time with great success. In regards to Fox Body / SN-95 cars nothing has been decided yet, it all depends on what the market demands. It’s something I think we would really like to do if it makes sense, we may start out by offering something like sway bars to test the market. Ultimately the Mustang community will dictate what we build, we like to hear feedback and see what parts people want to buy for their cars.
What makes Whiteline sway bars so special?
Our sway bars are something we are extremely proud of, ask anyone who has used a Whiteline sway bar and you will hear nothing but positive remarks. There are multiple reasons for this, firstly we use a different material than anything you will see from aftermarket bar manufacturers. A lot of sway bars are made out of hollow steel, sometimes it’s even chrome-moly. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to us, because a sway-bar’s job is actually to work as a spring and therefore it needs to rebound. We use a specific spring steel that was pioneered by Henry Ford and used to make the Model-T chassis.
Our bars are also solid, so we can use a smaller bar but actually be stiffer than stock. What you get is an amazing spring rate bar, add in our adjust-ability (4 point front and rear for the new Mustang) and you have everything you could ever want. Our bars also feature our Whiteline lateral locks to keep the bar from moving laterally, Whiteline bushings (again, less squeak, no failure) and heavy duty adjustable endlinks.
Our fans drive more than just Mustangs, can you expand upon your other product offerings for Ford vehicles?
Our offerings for Ford are massive! Like I said before we are a global company and Ford is a big part of our business. The Falcon is obviously the biggest Ford product line we have as it is basically the Mustang of Australia, but we also have an impressive line-up for Focus as well. You can see our offerings on the website but we have bits and pieces for most Ford offerings including Mondeo, Probe and Escort. Going forward I imagine more and more Ford parts readily available as we move into the global chassis era, making it easier for us to design and build parts for enthusiasts all over the world.
When we chatted at the Trufiber open house, you were telling me about the Dakar Rally. Can you briefly recap that story?
In 2011 we made some bushings for the McRae ProDakar Buggy team for all 3 of their vehicles entered in the Rally. Not only did the bushings survive but the team took all 3 podium spots in their class. For the 2012 race we asked them if they required new sets of bushings, but amazingly they ran the same sets for a second round of Dakar again!
To put it into prospective for people out there who don’t know what the Dakar rally is, it is the single most grueling and challenging race on the planet. Teams travel through some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet in extreme heat. For a bushing to go through that sort of challenge not once, but twice, really stands as a testament to how durable our product is.