Any part bolted to an old car just about begs to be replaced. Of those bolt-ons, intermediate Chrysler products have the Holy Grail: a platform that serves as the mooring for the engine and most of the front suspension components. The aftermarket just couldn't wait any longer to make something to replace Ma Mopar's K-member.
In their defense, it had good reason. Though respectable for a part from a mass-produced car, that K-member takes up precious space for headers and high-capacity oil pans. Its rather flat shape and spot-welded construction leave strength on the table, too.
The tubular K-members developed by the aftermarket address those issues but often at a price. By itself, a tubular K-member isn't necessarily expensive; however, most manufacturers design them specifically to work as a package with other special components like control arms, coilover dampers, steering racks, and so on. And those parts add up.
"We looked at the components that people are making for the Mopar market," QA1's Dave Kass says. "What we found is a big void where people want to keep their torsion bars, but want to run a bolt-in K-member and maybe control arms." So the company embarked upon a two-year development program to create a pretty novel system for B- and E-Body Chrysler products (the company also makes counterparts for the A-Body cars but for the purposes of this install we'll concentrate on the intermediates).
Like its competition, QA1 designed its tubular K-member and a series of suspension components for those cars. Only unlike its competition, the company designed each component to interchange with its OEM counterpart. "We based everything off of factory geometry and pickup points," Kass says. "That lets someone start off with, say, a pair of upper or lower control arms or a K-member or our Dynamic Strut Bars. Then they can build as they go in whatever order they want. That's not an option with other kits on the market," he observes. "You have to buy everything at once otherwise the pieces won't work with the others. This way lets someone structure a kit in stepping stones if you will."
Just because the parts interchange with OEM components doesn't mean that QA1 made fancy-looking versions of stock parts though; each one indeed addresses shortcomings. Beyond space and strength, the K-member (PN 52315, MSRP $694.95) accommodates later and potentially stiffer E-Body sway bars. And because the system retains the torsion bars, it doesn't require elaborate accommodations for coilover dampers (another element that dramatically increases cost).
The tubular control arms offer far more structural integrity than the open-channel parts they replace. Urethane bushings in the upper arms (PN 52305, MSRP $349.95) reduce deflection. For reasons explained later, QA1 delivers the lower arms (PN 52308, MSRP $449.95) with rubber bushings; however, they can be retrofitted with urethane.