In 1993, Bill Reilly spent a bunch of time, effort, and money upgrading his 1969 Dodge Dart with bigger torsion bars, 1973-up disc brakes, and a healthy big-block. In his own words: "It was absolutely miserable to drive. It was all over the place. It was so hard to install the big-block—the headers and all that with the stock suspension—and then it drove like crap. It just really pissed me off. I still remember the exact piece of road I was on when I first thought that." A fabricator by trade, Reilly figured he would just fix it himself. It was second nature. "I'm going to rebuild this and make it better," Reilly told himself. Five years later, he was still reading through automotive engineering books trying to get it finished. By that point, he was simply obsessed with making a Mopar suspension work. "I was going to put a rack in the stock K-member, but to do that you end up with a bandage fix that doesn't quite work." One thing led to another, and it turned into a domino effect. There was only one way to do it: Make the whole thing from scratch.

Reilly's single-minded obsession to build a Mopar front suspension that worked well and packaged all the popular engine combinations culminated in what you see here: the AlterKtion K-member with coilover suspension. The fact is, all 40-plus-year-old suspensions have a lot to be desired, but far fewer of them have as many woes as the Mopar's. The concerns are divided into two major camps: powertrain/exhaust/oil pan packaging, and handling/steering.

If we face facts, most Mopar guys care more about power than handling—when they care about performance at all. Under that premise, it's difficult to make even basic upgrades like fitting a big-block engine with headers and a performance oil pan. There just isn't the space to fit pipes and pans around steering linkages, steering boxes, and the omnipresent torsion bars. It's so bad that Chrysler engineers had to move the engine centerline to the right side by as much as 3 inches on some cars. Loyalists who stand by the stock suspension end up either forgoing the horsepower, or resorting to fenderwell headers, cut sheetmetal, and origami-inspired oil pans. But hey, at least they've got the stock suspension, right?

In the other camp are guys who want a great handling Mopar. They are tired of the aimless wandering of a suspension with no caster, the seasickness of a high roll center, the sudden violent steering changes from a long scrub radius, and the dull response of a worn-out steering system with a slow-ratio box.

The thing about Reilly is that he fits into both camps: He wanted big power, he wanted great handling, and he wanted razor sharp steering. Oh, and he wanted it bad enough that he was willing to go to the ends of the earth for it. That's why he created the White Haven, Pennsylvania–based Reilly Motorsports (RMS). Since designing and marketing the AlterKtion, RMS has added the four-link Street Lynx rear suspension to its resume, and begun carrying other parts—such as brake kits and subframe connectors—that dovetail with their mission statement of Mopars without performance handicaps. Besides A-Body, RMS also offers front AlterKtion and rear four-link Street Lynx suspensions in versions for B-Body and E-Body, and for purposes as varied as drag racing and autocrossing. AlterKtion suspensions can also be ordered with a dizzying array of motor mounts, including 273/318, 340/360, 383/400/440 (all regular big-blocks), second-gen Hemi (426 style), third-gen Hemi (5.7/6.1/6.4), and even LS.

In the handling department, the AlterKtion has far better wheel behavior than stock. The roll center has been lowered from 8 inches above ground to a scant 1 inch, a change that manifests itself as a more glued-down feeling with all four tires sharing more of the grip. The caster angle of the AlterKtion improves the OEM spec of ¾-1 degree to 5 degrees or more, giving Mopars a more modern, confidence-inspiring track with improved self-centering instincts. By changing to a Mustang II/Pinto-style spindle, the AlterKtion introduces some much-needed steering inclination angle for better tracking and reduced scrub radius.

And while Mopar faithful might scoff at the use of a Ford part, consider this: The Mustang II/Pinto spindle not only is 8 pounds lighter per side than its Mopar counterpart, it is the most widely supported spindle in the industry when it comes to brake systems. The knockdown punch is the Ford spindle's much improved geometry. It could arguably be a little better like the more expensive C6 spindle, but it is cost-effective, it's well supported, and it's light-years ahead of stock spindles. Reilly put it best: "The spindle was designed by an engineer—a man. Only later did someone else come along and put a brand logo on it. Why punish yourself for that?"

Then there's the steering. While modest gains in the technology and feel of recirculating-ball steering boxes have made them viable choices, the rack-and-pinion design offers superior feel with fewer moving parts, fewer wear items, less mass, and a more compact package. It is de rigeur for modern production performance cars, and they are well supported in the aftermarket. In its AlterKtion systems, RMS uses a quick-ratio Mustang-style rack from AGR, a trusted leader in the steering market. Moreover, the rack-and-pinion design eliminates the massive factory steering linkage and opens up a world of engine choices and oil pan fitments.

At the heart of the AlterKtion is the use of adjustable Viking Warrior coilover shocks. These pieces are at the cutting edge of aftermarket shock design with a twin-tube aluminum body, deflective-disc technology, a PTFE/bronze piston seal, and a wide range of damper tuning via twin compression and rebound controls with 19 positions for each. They are paired with Viking Warrior springs that have a very attractive silver powdercoat look, which you won't mind showing off. As coilovers, they're also adjustable, meaning ride height and corner weight can easily be set. Additionally, RMS says it will swap out your springs at no charge should you want to make a change to your spring rate.

In the spectrum of Mopar handling stuff, you have everything from stock rebuild commodity parts, to bolt-on factory-style parts, to complete chassis that employ none of the benefits of the factory engineering (and yes, stock unibody construction does have its advantages). The AlterKtion is closer in cost to a bolt-on collection of parts consisting of control arms, shocks, springs, steering box, steering rebuild parts, sway bar, and bushings—yet it delivers performance closer to that of a full tube-frame chassis transplant. (At less than $4,500, the AlterKtion is less than a third of the cost of a starter chassis). Heck, after you eBay your old take-off K-member and parts, you might even come out ahead on the cost compared to a mash-up of stock-style aftermarket bolt-ons.

From an installation standpoint—there's no comparison. A chassis transplant can take months or even years as the DIY guy saves the cash, collects the tools, and learns the fabrication chops to pull it off. It took us just four hours to install the AlterKtion—less than the time it takes to swap out a box full of stock-style bolt-ons. It is the right suspension for the right price if you want to accomplish the most good, and you've got limited money and a modest skill set.

And lastly, there is the weight. Depending on your starting point, the AlterKtion front coilover suspension will shave the mass over the nose by anywhere from 75 to 120 pounds. That's a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. We quickly realized we had to try one of these on Project Valiant, our 1968 Plymouth Valiant project car. We took the Valiant to our favorite shop, Outlaw Motorsports (Riverside, California), where proprietor Ron Aschtgen made short work of the AlterKtion on his first time ever seeing one. Just this year, Outlaw finished the two-year buildup of our '68 Nova project, and in that time on that Chevy we never experienced work progress at such a breakneck speed as the RMS AlterKtion. So well-engineered was the RMS K-member coilover system, it practically bolted itself together. See for yourself!

SOURCE
Reilly Motorsports
White Haven
PA  18661
570-443-7440
www.reilymotorsports.com
Viking Performance
21401 Hemlock Ave
Lakeville
MN  55044
800-236-6001
http://www.vi-king.com
Outlaw Motorsports
800-924-1913
www.outlawMS.com
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