Buying an older musclecar is both a blessing and a curse. You get retro-cool styling, but the same "passage of time" that has made the car a classic has also been busy wearing stuff out. This is the case with our '70 Ford Fairlane. Our car was in great shape aesthetically, but the mechanics were 37 years old, and way past their prime. In particular, the suspension had more creaks and groans than a retirement home, and it was even starting to lean noticeably to the left. We didn't think it was unsafe yet, just worn enough to make cruising much less enjoyable. And after all, this hobby is all about fun.
The good news is that turning back the clock by installing new suspension parts is not rocket science, and Just Suspension makes it even easier by selling complete suspension rebuild kits for many classic musclecars, including our Fairlane. The company has been around for 20 years, and while many of their components look stock, they are actually made far better. In fact, according to Jayme Freitas, president of Just Suspension, they are substantially improved over most replacement parts on the market today. He tells PHR, "We've incorporated positive camber geometry, all spring steel construction, revised roll centers, less friction, and better lubrication in our ball joints and tie rod ends. We've also tuned bushing firmness to maintain alignment when cornering, without creating a harsh ride. These things allow the suspension to travel more smoothly, absorbing road imperfections and keeping the tire contact patch more square to the road. The result is immediately obvious compared to the 35-plus-year-old OEM replacement-style components you'll find at your local parts store."
After doing a survey under the Ford and talking with Just Suspension, we decided to replace all the wear-and-tear parts, since they were, well, worn and torn. We also replaced the coil and leaf springs with fresh units matched to our intended street/strip use. In our case, the rear leaves were custom-made to help minimize the axlewrap we'll have after we put some big power to the ground. In addition, Just Suspension was able to set up the front coils and rear leaves to help the Fairlane keep its killer stance.
Two weeks after our order was placed, a large, heavy box arrived. Follow along as we take the first steps towards rehabilitating the mechanics of our Fairlane 500.
Stuff you'll need:
* Jackstands and jack or lift
* Pole jack (if using a lift)
* Basic wrench and ratchet set
* Lug wrench
* Large prybars
* Bearing grease
* Grease gun
* Penetrating oil (WD-40)
* Ball joint separator (pickle fork)
When Just Suspension says...
When Just Suspension says they provide a complete kit, they mean it. Every wear-and-tear suspension item on the car is covered by "The Works" kit. As shown, with optional sway bars and KYB shocks, it costs $1,850. Considering it includes every serviceable suspension part under the car, that's not a bad deal. Just Suspension can also tailor a kit to fit your specific needs, whether it's drag racing, cornering, or cruising. By our estimation, this kit saves about 15 percent over individually bought parts.
Shocks are among the most...
Shocks are among the most important parts of a suspension; the ability to adjust them can make a huge difference in how the car handles and launches off the line. These VariShocks have the ability to tune for compression and rebound with their Quickset system. The front (PN VAS-14X47-515) and rear (PN VAS-14x44-715) shocks run $478 a pair, while the budget-conscious single-adjustable version runs about $100 less per shock. We will eventually autocross the car, so the extra flexibility of the double-adjustable is worth it.
The old suspension was beat,...
The old suspension was beat, and we bet most of this stuff is original equipment. The rubber parts were deformed, and since none of the original parts had zirc fittings, the 37-year-old grease had long-since departed. For the blow-by-blow on how to remove the old parts, check out the sidebar on page 78.
Step one in rebuilding the...
Step one in rebuilding the front suspension is to assemble the new tie rods. Connect the inner- (long) to the outer- (short) tie rod with the sleeve. To keep the alignment in the ballpark, make the initial length identical to the old part. The inner tie-rod end is a slightly different shape from the factory unit. This is fairly common in aftermarket parts, and has no effect on function.
Attach the new tie-rod assembly...
Attach the new tie-rod assembly to the centerlink, as shown. The centerlink isn't replaced in this application, since it has nothing that wears. Then attach the idler arm (yellow arrow) to the frame, and connect it to the end of the centerlink
Check out the worn upper control...
Check out the worn upper control arm. The Ford's design means that it's an easily rebuilt part, since neither the bushings nor the ball joint is pressed in.